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Kinhaven announces the first semester music school in the nation

The Kinhaven Music School in Weston, Vermont, was founded in 1952 and is the home of a residential summer music camp for chamber music students of all ages.
Rob Davidson
The Kinhaven Music School in Weston, Vermont, was founded in 1952 and is the home of a residential summer music camp for chamber music students of all ages.

Classical Host, James Stewart, speaks with Anthony Mazzocchi, co-executive director of the Kinhaven Music School. Kinhaven is partnering with Burr and Burton Academy to launch the first music-focused semester school in nation, starting in the Fall of 2025.

Anthony Mazzocchi: You know, we need places like Kinhaven more now than perhaps ever before. These students really need a chance to spend some time with each other and engaging in their passion with each other, and I'm really happy to create that space here.

James Stewart: That’s the voice of Anthony Mazzocchi. Antony and his partner, violinist Deborah Buck have been co-executive directors of the Kinhaven Music School since 2011.

Anthony: …and I've been at Kinhaven for 26 years in one way, shape or form.

James: Tell me about Kinhaven. What is it? What does it specialize in and what kind of legacy does it have?

Anthony: Right! So, Kinhaven is a 72 year old institution. It was founded by David and Dorothy Dushkin back in 1952. They were really passionate about a few things which have really held tight all these years; the idea of bringing students into nature with one another with a common passion, so that they could really concentrate on chamber music specifically, and community and nature.

James: Kinhaven’s 31-acre campus in Weston, Vermont is the home of a residential summer music camp for chamber music students of all ages. They come to rehearse, to grow and to perform at the camp and around the region. Just recently, Kinhaven announced a new opportunity for high school students to continue their experience into the school year, starting in the Fall of 2025.

Anthony: Well, about 12 years ago, I learned about one of these local schools here called The Mountain School in Vershire. And I learned that first of all, it was a semester school, which was something very interesting to me, a boarding school just for one semester as opposed to a full-year boarding school. And then I found out that there were about nine of these semester schools around the nation, all themed, but there were no music schools. 

And I was so deeply inspired by this concept. I called the heads of some of these programs and asked them about it. And I became more certain over time that this is something that I really wanted to do. And I thought Kinhaven was pretty well suited for that.

As some time went on, I called our friends at the Burr and Burton Academy and Mark Tashjian, who's the headmaster there. And I said, “Do you think, perhaps we could do something where we share faculty? You know, I might want to do this.” 

And he said, “Why don't instead of me just sending faculty, why don't you send students here and perhaps we'll send students there and we really kind of weave our communities together?” And you know, that really resonated with me so deeply that I said, “Ok, you know what, we might be on the way to do this.” And I’m so thrilled and thankful that the Burr and Burton Academy and everybody there is ready to partner with us on this. And I'm proud that we're going to become the first music-focused semester school in the nation.

James: What will that look like? If I’m a student signing up for this, what would I expect during that semester? What will my days be like?

Anthony: We're gonna truncate our students’ day. So they're gonna show up a little later to BBA and leave a little earlier. They'll come back to Kinhaven. We'll get right into chamber music, private lessons, master classes, private practice, and obviously homework. 

Students will have a chamber music group that they're assigned at the beginning of the week and they'll get coaching five days a week from our instructors. And on the weekend, we will have concerts open to the public, either on Kinhaven's campus or around Southern Vermont in different places, which I'm really excited to do. And then we will have a program where guest artists from around the nation come in, not only work with the students for the week, but also perform with them on the weekends.

So, it's a really busy week, definitely 50/50 academics and music. Which is probably more than they'll ever have, you know, at their home school, especially every day and seven days a week.

James: Sounds like a fantastic opportunity. How many students can be accepted into this inaugural semester?

Anthony: We're looking to enroll 16 students into the inaugural semester. We've already opened applications for faculty and I've been amazed at how many applications from around the nation. We have schools like Juilliard and Ensemble Connect as part of Carnegie Hall's program and the Orchestra of Saint Luke's for artists and instructors and we'll see what happens.

James: Something like this, of course, is not cheap. It’s pretty expensive. And I understand that there’s some efforts to create an equitable environment as part of this program. Tell us a little bit about that initiative.

Anthony: So we at Kinhaven have been very passionate about leveling the playing field, especially for students from underrepresented backgrounds, underrepresented in the field of music, and underserved backgrounds. And we've gone a long way over the past eight years to do that through partnerships with some really interesting organizations around the nation called Pathways Programs. In these programs for middle school and high school students, seek to kind of break down the barriers that exist. There is an umbrella organization called Equity Arc that works with these Pathways Programs and we are happy associated with Equity Arc. We are looking to make sure that this program is equitable, is accessible and is diverse just the way the summer program is and I'm really happy that we'll be able to offer financial aid to anybody who needs it.

James: If I was interested or a student of mine, in my life was interested, where would I go for more information? What’s the next step?

Anthony: Well, you definitely want to visit and click on semester program and you fill out an application or an inquiry form and we'll do the rest.

James: Applications are open now for the inaugural semester of Vermont’s first music-focused semester school in the nation, starting in August of 2025. If you’re a high school student, or there’s a student in your life that could benefit from this unique opportunity, be sure to check out the website for more information.

James Stewart is Vermont Public Classical's afternoon host. As a composer, he is interested in many different genres of music; writing for rock bands, symphony orchestras and everything in between.