Lifelong memories at LMC
Angela Huang’s violin sits in the corner of her bedroom and while the private equity investments attorney doesn’t pick it up as often as she wished, the music she once played on it shaped her life.
Music is still what brings her solace, how she channels energy and where she finds many of her most treasured memories.
She discovered that lifelong passion at Luzerne Music Center. “At such a young age to be immersed in music like that, it solidified my love of violin and music,” said Huang, who is a member of LMC’s board of directors and, with her husband, Geoffrey, recently made a $70,000 matching gift challenge toward the camp’s 2020 Campaign.
Huang was already a passionate violinist when she attended Luzerne Music Center for two summers. A student at West Conservatory, she waited with great anticipation to be 8 so she could go to LMC. “I already loved violin,” she recalled. “But at LMC, we were so surrounded by it for such a concentrated amount of time. If we weren’t practicing or in chamber music or orchestra, we’d be hearing music. It was very inspiring for me, so music just became a permanent part of my life.”
But those sweet days of summer were filled with more than just music.
“I still remember they had these little practice rooms, just little cabins, so amazing, and you go into these wooden buildings and play and it’s echoing among the trees,” she said. “A lot of times, kids just walked in and played among the trees.”
She tells stories of “polar bear mornings,” when campers headed into the crisp, clear waters of
Lake Luzerne with biodegradable soap; a trip
white-water rafting (“in my memory, it was real white water, although I’m sure it wasn’t”); and giggling into the night with new friends in the junior kids’ cabin.
“That’s the really special part of LMC: You have
the music, but they really build it out so it’s a real summer camp experience for children,” Huang
said. “I feel like that was my all-American summer camp-type of experience and it just so happened we were getting this amazing musical experience as well.”
Huang’s family moved to Taiwan in 1990, after her second summer at LMC (her older brother, Andrew, also attended those two summers), and she continued to play seriously. “It became an integral part of my life,” she said.
Today, she is a subscriber to Singapore Orchestra and a classical and jazz aficionado. She continues to introduce her family to a variety of music.
"LMC was only a few weeks, but it was such an integral part of my childhood.
— Angela Huang
“It doesn’t matter if you keep playing violin; what matters is that you love music and appreciate it,” she said. “An appreciation for music, that’s lifelong.”
While attending a board meeting for another nonprofit organization, Huang was introduced to LMC CEO and Artistic Director Elizabeth Pitcairn, who was performing as a gift. “I had never met anyone else who went to LMC,” Huang said.
That chance meeting helped Huang see another side of Luzerne Music Center. “I felt like it was the fates bringing us together and to hear her describing how much they’ve grown,” she said, noting that the caliber of musicians performing at Luzerne Music Festival has increased. “Liz has really elevated the talent that has come to LMC, and now it has become a world-class music festival.”
Huang and her family visited LMC last year for its annual fundraising gala and was transported back in time to the summers of music, nature, carefree fun and young friendship.
“LMC really is that environment to be able to experience one of the best parts of American culture and life: small town and nature,” she said. “LMC was only a few weeks, but it was such an integral part of my childhood.”
LMC connection runs deep
Like the ripples that skim across the surface of Lake Luzerne when a camper jumps into its pristine waters, Glen Inanga’s first summer at Luzerne Music Center in 1988 kicked into motion a reaction that has cascaded from Nigeria to the United States and on to the Cayman Islands, reaching hundreds of young musicians.
“One good deed 30 years ago has evolved into a massive ripple effect,” said Inanga, a pianist, assistant professor at University College Cayman Islands and co-founder of the biennial Cayman Arts Festival. “That is powerful to me. It’s very humbling.”
When Inanga was growing up in Nigeria in the mid-1980s, he was evaluated by an examiner from the United Kingdom, who recognized Inanga’s abilities and mentioned him to Fran Hutson, an American piano teacher living in Nigeria who summered in Brant Lake, New York.
Inanga met Hutson soon after at a luncheon held by influential Nigerian businessmen. She heard him play a Mozart sonata, then offered to teach him.
“She realized as soon as she met me that I was a big fish in a little pond,” Inanga recalled. “I wanted to do more than what the country could do for me. At that time, you were either an engineer, or a doctor or lawyer; no one chose to become a musician.”
Hutson knew about Luzerne Music Center and said it would be “just the right thing” for Inanga. She secured funding for him to attend, including airfare, and he flew halfway around the world to upstate New York.
“It was the most phenomenal four weeks,” Inanga said. “It has been a life-changing moment in my entire life.”
Inanga returned to LMC the following summer, then went on to become a faculty member. Now, Inanga returns to perform as part of the Luzerne Chamber Music Festival.
“The rest is really history,” he said. “It changed my outlook on life in so many ways.”
After solidifying a successful career, Inanga co-founded the Cayman Arts Festival, which includes a
scholarship program for young musicians to attend LMC. For six years, the program funded camp for one child; two years ago, a few children; and last year, six children.
“We plan to send 10 this year," Inanga said (The 2020 season was postponed because of COVID-19, but the students will attend in 2021). “They learn from other kids the way you can never teach them yourself. Being around your peers and seeing them progress inspires you to work harder and put in more time on your instrument.”
He sees parallels between himself as an eager young pianist in Nigeria limited by perception of music as a hobby and the students of the Cayman Islands. But success stories like Inanga’s and those of his students are effecting change.
“I find that because of what (Nigeria) has seen me do, in the generation coming up behind, there has been a huge explosion of young musicians,” he said. “The landscape is way different than it was when I was growing up, and it goes to show that when you really dedicate your life to something, to be very passionate and committed to it, it does have a great effect on those behind you.”
The impact of what he has created in the Cayman Islands is something Inanga never dreamed would come of piano lessons with his early mentor.
“I’m already beginning to see the effect LMC had on me, with history
repeating itself,” he said. “Now people are thinking, ‘I can do this as a career, I can be world-class, performing to high, high standards,’ and it’s shifting the landscape of professional musicians around the world.”
As Inanga sees improvements in the Cayman Islands Youth Orchestra, he marvels at how a trip to one camp in the Adirondacks has been felt around the world.
“Look at what LMC did for one person — myself; if you do it for
10, 12, 15, the effect is absolutely huge,” he said. “Long term, it’ll definitely shape a lot of the community values; it’s challenging parents to realize what is possible, what is meaningful and what society needs. That’s something I’m very proud of.”
The reach of the scholarship program extends beyond students and affects the entire community. “It has really gone to the heart of where the greatest need is, challenging the status quo in a positive way and it can only grow,” Inanga said.
All of it started at Luzerne Music Center, he said. “LMC has been a force in my development,” he said. “Everything has come full circle; it gives meaning to what has happened in past and what is happening in present. It’s the cycle of life.”
"(LMC) has been a life-changing moment in my entire life."
— Glen Inanga
The Ahn Piano Trio
Zlatomir Fung, The Juilliard School under
the tutelage of Richard Aaron and
Beth Graham, horn, Baltimore Symphony,
Jennifer Haas, first violin,
The Philadelphia Orchestra
Sylvia Kim, principal second,
Christopher Pell, principal clarinet,
Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra
Elizabeth Pitcairn, violin soloist
Gareth Zehngut, viola, Minnesota Orchestra
Glen Inanga, pianist,
Cayman Arts Festival co-founder