BERKELEY (CBS 5) — Learn music under the stars – That’s what about 100,000 young people in the Bay Area have done at summer camp for more than half a century.
Bob Lutt hasn’t played the trombone in years, but he still lives and breathes music.
“Music is everything to me,” Bob says. “Music is my life.”
For more than 50 years, Bob has inspired tens of thousands of young musicians.
“I want them to come away with…having been challenged to play to the top of their abilities,” he explains.
Bob founded the Cazadero Performing Arts Camp in 1957 while he was Berkeley High School’s Director of Bands. He started the two-week summer camp on Berkeley-owned property in the Sonoma Redwoods.
The first year, volunteers from the San Francisco Symphony taught 60 campers, including 16-year-old Tony Kaye with his guitar. Today, Tony is a professional guitarist. He’s thankful to Cazadero and his mentor, Bob.
“He believes in people, bringing out the best in people, particularly kids,” Tony remembers.
Tony says something magical happens, making music under the giant redwoods.
“Maybe it’s because being in the redwood grove is like being in a church or cathedral,” he says. “It’s something larger than we are and inspirational.”
Bob agrees: “It’s the perfect match – music and nature.”
The campers who eat, sleep, and play together forge lasting friendships. Many of Bob’s students make music their careers – in the symphony, opera, ballet, and teaching.
Joan Murray, Executive Director of the San Francisco youth orchestra “Golden Gate Philharmonic” volunteers as a camp teacher. She appreciates the nurturing environment Bob’s created at Cazadero.
“They would take kids that didn’t have much going for them, and they’d let them know they could do something,” Joan says.
At age 81, Bob no longer runs Cazadero himself, but still recruits teachers, helps raise $80,000 a year in camp scholarships, and soaks in the students’ summer concerts.
“They drive up on a Tuesday morning and they put on a quality concert on Saturday or Sunday,” says Bob “And it’s utterly amazing – it’s continues to be a real joy for me.”
So for inspiring excellence in young musicians for more than half a century, this week’s Jefferson Award in the Bay Area goes to Bob Lutt.
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