OPUS Camper News

My Musical World: the Perspective of Camper/Teaching Assistant Brandon J.

Brandon J. playing for an OPUS Exhibit and in an OPUS Chamber Music Camp concert (2nd violin in Brandenburg)

As a composer and orchestrator, the kind of work I receive is anything from singer-songwriter arrangements to symphonic works to editing books for musicals. The knowledge needed to accurately do whatever tasks are at hand is crucial. I have written for many different situations: short films, recording sessions, musicals, and even concertos. Each setting requires a different set of ears and a different set of sounds. This is where learning comes into play. I love to learn new things, or learn more about what interests me. As musicians, we keep learning, but we also HAVE to keep learning and expanding our range. I am what many may call a crossover violinist, or a contemporary violinist. I have played, do play, and absolutely adore classical music, but I also play and listen to many other styles of music, including R&B, Hip-Hop, Rock, Metal, Christian Worship, Gospel, etc. I decided about 4 years ago to take the knowledge I had from writing in all of these styles and applying them on violin. I recently went to the Five Week Summer Immersive Camp at Berklee College of Music in Boston, and I fell in love with the school. I am able to write, learn, and play in just about every genre known to man.

As a performer, this goes deeper than knowledge.While a person is performing, he/she is conveying a message of importance to the listener. If I play every passage of “Winter” by Vivaldi technically correct, but I do not convey anything, then my audience has lost interest. This is why classical music is failing. Too many musicians are not “performing”, but playing. When the band, Metallica, goes to play a show, not only is the music good, but each member is obviously having a lot of fun. This is my goal as a violinist. I play with a bunch of facial expressions and I emote through the music. I move and smile and give faces, nodding my head asthe beat continues. I am constantly thinking about the music being played and the music being transferred from me to the audience.

Brandon J.’s peer campers playing his composition in Arts Connections Showcase in August of 2016

One of the most important compliments I’ve ever gotten was at an Opus Chamber Music Camp Showcase, where I played a piece I wrote for piano and strings. A TA came up to me and asked if I ever wanted to score films, because my music was full of emotion and vision. That compliment 3 years ago changed my career path for good. I soon after pursued composition and learned all I could, landing me a scholarship at the Berklee College of Music for Composition and Film Score.

Brandon J. in his 1st of the four OPUS Chamber Music Camp Final Concerts

Listen to one of Brandon J.’s composition at



OPUS Camper News

A Musical Experience FOR LIFE!

The OPUS camp faculty places students in chamber music, based on submitted audition videos, in small ensembles of two to six players which develops teamwork and draws on the individual strengths of each young musician. Chamber music requires close attention and therefore OPUS has 30 faculty members, which gives a high teacher to students ratio (1 teacher every 3 campers). They are assisted by 20+ teaching assistants and instructors.

The program is not just chamber music and orchestra or handbells, it is a compact mix of many joyful classes, loved by many enthusiastic young artists year after year (up to coming 14 times). Camaraderie, character-building, teamwork, cultural appreciation, music and people skills are just some of the major benefits campers take away with after attending the OPUS camp. New friendships are born and old friendships are rekindled.

Camp applications are due by June 12, 2018. Scholarship applications are due no later than June 5, 2018. Admission is based on electronic auditions. Groupings and music assignments will be decided in early-July, and music will be made available to campers for practice ~3 weeks prior to the Camp.

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The 16th Annual 2018 OPUS Chamber Music Camp Open for Enrollment

  • Come, if you are available July 29-August 4, The camp is in Naperville, IL on the campus of North Central College and the final concert is in Wentz Concert Hall.
  • Come, if you are a violin, viola, cello, double bass, harp, oboe, piano, clarinet or flute student, ages 8-18.
  • Come, if you would want to advance your skills through a team-developed curriculum, designed to challenge and musically-inspire you.
  • Come, if you’d like to expand your musical talents to include composition, electric instruments, music arranging, and videography.

 Come, if you’d like to make friends and have fun playing chamber music!

OPUS Camper News

OPUS Camper Calvin Chu in the News

Spotlight-NAP-101214I am touched by Calvin Chu’s story recently published on the Naperville Sun.  Calvin is a 17 year old student at Waubonsie Valley High School.  He plays the violin, is one of our OPUS campers and has participated in many OPUS organized community concerts. He got into this academic spotlight because he won 1st place of an essay contest.  I am impressed that he organized a benefit concert and how he described how we do things for the right cause:

“Purpose-driven leaders unite individuals with like-minded peers, and set them on the right path by helping them find their own unique strengths, allowing them to fully devote themselves to a unified cause.”

Last year Calvin organized a benefit concert that included various local student musicians, raising funds for the Red Cross following Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines.  He also helped found a UNICEF chapter at Waubonsee to unite students who expressed an interest in “making an impact in the lives of other children around the world.” Read Calvin’s story…

OPUS Camper News

OPUS Campers Participate in Benefit Concert!

Young Musicians - May19 2014 for Taylor Kroma DadBravo! OPUS campers Maxwell Lowery (Viola), Tolya Kuznetsov (cello), and Luc Waked (cello) support their Naperville North High School friend, 17-year-old Taylor Kroma, also an OPUS camper, a junior at Naperville North High School, by performing their music and sharing the music with the patients at Naperville’s Edward Hospital through their Healing Arts Program.  Performing for the underserved, those in pain and/or anxiety, people with physical and/or mental disadvantage, is always a part of the entire OPUS program for young people to increase their awareness and the pleasure of social responsibility.

The Herald had a great article about the event – read it here.

OPUS Camper News

We are Very Proud of Grace NG, a 4 year OPUS camper: Named to the Chicago Tribune Chicago Tribune 2014 All-State Academic Team

2014 May21 Grace Ng Tribune Top 10 SeniorsWhen Grace Ng began her freshman year at Naperville North High School, she felt like a “girl of the background” — one who smiled a lot and worked studiously, but spoke softly and was particularly awkward around boys.

To overcome her insecurity, Ng set lofty goals. She wanted to define herself as a uniquely accomplished person.

Nearly four years later, she is the top-ranked student in her class with a weighted 4.78 GPA on a 4.0 scale. She’s also an accomplished pianist and violinist, a member of the school tennis team, a math team captain and an active volunteer at her church, among many other accomplishments and leadership positions.

Ng is fluent in the Cantonese and Mandarin dialects of Chinese and proficient in Spanish. And she has a green belt in kung fu.

“She fits more into one day than most people do in several days,” said Jennifer Witt, Ng’s counselor at Naperville North.

“It’s obvious that she’s brilliant,” Witt said. But what makes her unique “is her true passion to learn and grow as not just an academic but as a person as well.”

Ng spent the past few years thinking hard about how to define a person’s worth and significance. She sought out family and friends to discuss the question, concluding that “my worth is not dependent on the length of my resume or some arbitrary measure of success, but is justified simply by my position as a friend, a daughter, a student, a citizen of this world.”

“High school is definitely a growing time,” Ng said in an interview this month. “A lot of what changed the way I thought of myself was from the people I got to meet in high school. One of the things that I’ll remember best about high school is the friends and the teachers that I’ve gotten to know.”

Ng will attend Stanford University. She is considering studying bioengineering and piano performance.

By Kim Geiger – Chicago Tribune – View the original article here.

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Take a Look at Pictures From Our 2013 Holiday Concerts!

We posted pictures from our 2013 series of holiday concerts! Take a look – or go to our Video and Image Gallery and view them (and browse through our other videos and image collections while you’re there).