Being a camper in the Museum’s “Anthropologists in the Making” Summer Camp comes with plenty of perks. Campers go for informative gallery tours with their counselors; they make spectacular arts & craft projects based on ancient cultures of the world; sometimes, they even get to dig for artifacts in our inner gardens (in sandboxes, that is). But once every summer, a special treat comes their way in the form of a concert performance, presented by members of the Penn Band Summer Music Camp. It’s become something of an annual tradition, as the Penn Band Campers have been coming here to put on this performance every summer for the last seven years.
This year’s performance, presented in the Museum’s Egypt (Mummies) Gallery, featured a special guest performer—Katie Schreckengast of Palmyra, Pa., who was recently crowned Miss Pennsylvania 2017! Ms. Schreckengast, an undergraduate at Penn State University, plays alto saxophone in PSU’s Blue Band, making her a welcome addition to this year’s performance by the Penn Band Campers.
Members of the Penn Band Camp had arrived at the Museum around 10:00 and set up around the feet of the gallery’s seated statue of Ramesses II, with their special guest arriving shortly thereafter. The Museum campers—kids between ages 7 and 13—arrived just before 10:30, and the performance was ready to begin.
The Penn Band Camp’s conductor for the day was Dr. Kushol Gupta, Assistant Director of The University of Pennsylvania Band. Fun fact about Dr. Gupta—you won’t find his name among the faculty of Music Department here at Penn. While he is very much musically inclined (a member of the Penn Band during his own undergraduate career, and director of the Penn Band Camp program for the last 14 years), his day job is as a Research Assistant Professor of Biochemistry and Biophysics in the Perelman School of Medicine here at the University of Pennsylvania. Dr. Gupta introduced the band’s special performer for the day, and the concert was soon underway.
The concert featured skillful, inspired performances of a variety of songs, from “Come Sail Away” by the group STYX to Stevie Wonder’s “Sir Duke.” Also on the setlist was the jazz classic “Misty,” the song that Ms. Schreckengast played on alto saxophone in her successful bid to win “Miss Pennsylvania’s Outstanding Teen” back in 2013. She took center stage as she and the Penn Band Campers performed a beautiful rendition of the song.
Midway through the performance, the musicians took a brief intermission from playing while Ms. Schreckengast took some time to meet the Penn Museum summer campers. She spoke with them about her career as a musician and as a titleholder, before answering all kinds of questions that were on the minds of the campers—from her favorite foods, to her pets at home. She also spoke with them about her personal platform, “Building Families Through Adoption,” and her own experience with adoption as a child.
After performing a few more songs, the concert came to a conclusion—but not before Ms. Schreckengast posed for a few photos with the Penn Band Campers after their fantastic performance.
After the crowd dispersed, Ms. Schreckengast met Kevin Schott, Training Manager in the Museum’s Learning Programs Department. Kevin brought her along for a wide-reaching tour of the Museum’s galleries—exploring artifacts from ancient Egypt, China, Greece, and more.
Special thanks to the Penn Band Camp, Dr. Kushol Gupta, and Katie Schreckengast (Miss Pennsylvania) for making this year’s concert for the Penn Museum summer campers so unforgettable!
All photos by Tom Stanley.