Reflections on the 2023 Walden/JCC Alumni Reunion

From Noah Mlotek, Director of Development and Alumni Relations

Over the weekend of August 4 to 6, 2023, The Walden School hosted a weekend of events to celebrate Walden’s 50th anniversary and the 70th anniversary of the Junior Conservatory Camp (JCC), Walden’s predecessor program. Dozens of Walden alumni and their families gathered in the Monadnock region to reconnect with friends, make new connections, and experience a bit of the Walden/JCC magic once again.

On Friday, alumni began arriving on the campus of the Dublin School, Walden’s summer home for the last 40 years. We enjoyed an outdoor reception and barbeque dinner, workshops by veteran Walden faculty and alumni Caroline Mallonee (“Composing with Scordatura”) and Ted Moore (“Introduction to Modular Synthesis Using VCV Rack”), and Evening Music led by YMP faculty members and alumni Francesca Hellerman and Theo Trevisan. The evening concluded with Goodnight Music and a reception in Gillespie Hall.

On Saturday, alumni had the option of hiking Mt. Monadnock or Gap Mountain, swimming in Dublin Pond, or exploring nearby Keene or Peterborough. More musical workshops were offered: Chorus, led by former YMP choral director Sarah Riskind, and Musicianship, led by Walden faculty member and CMR alumnus Lukáš Janata. Saturday evening brought a wonderfully festive 50th-anniversary dinner, with balloons and cake for Walden’s big birthday. We then enjoyed a breathtaking solo piano recital by Mackenzie Melemed, a YMP alumnus, who inaugurated the beautiful historic Steinway piano recently donated to Walden by Dublin resident and Walden supporter Tuck Crocker, who was profiled in the September edition of InterNetzo. After gathering in our final Goodnight Music circle of the reunion, alumni were treated to a special photo show filled with cherished memories from 70 years of Walden and JCC history.

On Sunday, we watched a video prepared by former JCC faculty member Ron Nelson with priceless photos and footage from the history of JCC, enlivened with commentary from Bob Weaver, the “dean” of the reunion, who first attended JCC in 1956. We also heard an update on the amazing successes of Walden at 50 from Executive Director Seth Brenzel. The reunion concluded with a Composers Forum moderated by veteran Walden faculty members Lukáš Janata and Tamar Bloch, featuring nine compositions by alumni of CMR and YMP, and incredible performances by our reunion guest artists: David Friend (piano), Thea Mesirow (cello), Laura Cocks (flutes) and Ellery Trafford (percussion) of TAK Ensemble, and Joshua Rubin (clarinets) of the International Contemporary Ensemble (clarinets). Four of these five visiting artists are past performers at Walden.

From Sanctus to Black Socks, from Earth Goddess to My Old Brown Earth, from Jumala siunaa to sol-sol-la-sol-ti-do, from “come let us sing” to “we won’t be singing till then,” it was a rich celebration of Walden and JCC and 50 and 70: a shared ethos, community, musical language, and spirit of open-mindedness that is as strong as ever. In words by the poet Wendell Berry that will be familiar to many alumni: “Again, again we come and go, changed, changing. . . . Only music keeps us here.”

Thank you to all the alumni and family members who made the trip from near and far for this special reunion. And a huge thank you to the hard-working reunion staff, led by Director of Operations Sammi Stone, and the workshop leaders who made it such a fun and memorable occasion.

. . . till then . . .



Noah Mlotek
Director of Development and Alumni Relations

This item was originally published in the November 2023 edition of InterNetzo, Walden’s online newsletter.