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Park District Dish: From summer music camp to Carnegie Hall

Music is such an integral part of our lives. It can lift our spirits when we’re feeling down, get us on our feet and feeling energized, or take us back in time to a long-ago memory.

Those who play an instrument have a greater appreciation for the melodies and harmonies that make up a song. Many start learning to play as children and hone their skills throughout their lifetime. For most, it takes many years of practice to learn the intricacies of an instrument.

And then there are the Dixon Anderson’s of the world.

Two summers ago, Anderson’s music teachers at Rotolo Middle School suggested he participate in the Batavia Park District’s Encore Summer Music Camp. His parents, Dan and Irene, also encouraged him to join. He had played the piano for several years, as well as the saxophone, in his school band, but Anderson began thinking about playing a string instrument in the Encore Orchestra.

“I really liked the sound of the strings and the orchestra,” Anderson said. “My friend was a violinist, and I thought it would be fun to be able to play with a group of friends.”

Anderson initially leaned toward the violin, as well, but the Encore teachers mentioned that they needed a cellist. He tried several instruments and eventually settled on the cello.

It has been two years since Anderson began playing the cello in the Encore Summer Music Camp, and this summer will be his third year playing. He also has taken up lessons and plays with the Rotolo Middle School Orchestra. Anderson recently won second place in the Fox River Youth Symphony Orchestra concerto competition and will be a featured soloist in the FRYSO spring concert.

In addition, five Batavia orchestra students recently were selected to play Carnegie Hall this summer as part of the 2014 Middle School Honors Performance Series. A total of 80 students from the United States and Canada were chosen. A Rotolo Middle School teacher nominated several students, and after a lengthy selection process that included an audition tape submission, Anderson was selected, along with four other students.

“Dixon has always been musical, even as a baby,” said his mother, Irene. “As his brother August says, the minute Dixon started playing cello it was as though gold flowed through his fingertips. Dixon has improved at an unheard of pace, and we are all beyond thrilled with his accomplishments.”

Anderson grew up surrounded by music. His dad, Dan, is a musician and often practices at home. His brother also has a love of music and plays a variety of instruments.

“I was very excited to be chosen to play at Carnegie Hall this summer,” he said. “I have always been around music and enjoy performing.”

This summer, Anderson will proudly represent Batavia as he spends four days at Carnegie Hall in New York City, taking master classes and performing on stage. Then he will return to once again participate in the Encore Summer Music Camp. The Encore Orchestra will perform at the Riverwalk on July 24, so the entire community will be able to share in Anderson’s talent.

“The camp is such a great way for the kids to stay connected with friends while playing music,” Irene Anderson said. “I love how the program culminates in a concert at the Riverwalk.”

For information about the Encore Summer Music Camp, contact the Batavia Park District at 630-879-5235 or visit

• Kari Miller is director of marketing and public relations for the Batavia Park District. Contact her at

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