If anyone remembers taking music lessons when they were young, they remember the butterfly stomach waiting to go on stage to perform for family and friends at the annual recital. The name of the event has changed over the years but for many students the butterflies remain.

At the Venice Symphony summer music camp concert, the experience level of the musicians varied from those who perform in their high school programs to the youngsters who held an instrument in their hands for the first time at the beginning of the second week of camp.

Thanks to camp director Gayle Heskett and her troupe of teachers, the campers filled the Venice Performing Arts Center with music and a joyful noise. A testimony to the program is the number of students who return as teachers and mentors. One of the gifts the teachers give the campers is the gift of music and a lifelong passion.

Just looking at the Venice Symphony musicians and the Venice Concert Band, the audience sees musicians who started out just like the summer campers.

Bravo Gayle Heskett and company.

Venice Musicale

Each month during the winter season, the Venice Musicale sponsors a free concert and asks for donations for their scholarship program. This year, the concerts included high school musicians such as the harp ensemble from Pine View School founded by Charlotte Murphy.

Concerts also featured musicians from the string quartet and Michael Gutierrez, principal tubist with the Sarasota Philharmonic and the 2018 Florida All-State Concert Band.

The audience enjoyed the fruits of their donations, welcoming scholarship recipients Luca Stine Daniel Solowey and Andrew Bailey. Everyone connected with these programs can take a bow.

Happy New Year

Three cheers to our teachers and students as they celebrate the beginning of a new school year.

One Of Our Best

The special person of this week is Gayle Heskett, director of the Venice Symphony Music summer camp for more than 25 years. Gayle also plays the bassoon with the Venice Symphony and teaches elementary school music.

Gayle’s message is, “It’s all about the kids.” The music camps keep growing with new programs, returning teachers and students. Gayle’s love of music inspires her children and grandchildren who are musicians. Her kind, welcoming spirit makes everyone feel like they too can take center stage and perform.

Gayle Heskett is one of the women who makes Venice a great place to live.

Fran Valencic is the social columnist for the Venice Gondolier Sun. She welcomes your tips and ideas. Contact her at franvalencic@


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