…who I have been associated with the past 8 plus years. In spite of the news about the disparity in quality in education in Minnesota, and the fact the U.S. has fallen so far behind other developed countries in the world in education, there is a group of very gifted and tough teens that are terrific!

Last evening, we were entertained at Orchestra Hall in Minneapolis by the orchestras of the Minnesota Youth Symphonies. This is a conglomeration of a couple hundred or so of the most talented and gifted kids in Minnesota. If you sit back in your seat and close your eyes and just enjoy the beautiful music being produced by these kids, you’d swear you were in the audience of a professional orchestra. That’s how good these kids are. There are actually four orchestras, the String Orchestra, the Philharmonic, the Repertory, and the Symphony Orchestra. Experience and talent move the kids along to the top, the Symphony. Last night, we enjoyed a long cello solo piece by Maple Grove High School junior, John Belk. He soloed in the Dvorak Cello Concerto in B minor. He was stellar! In his bio, he has worked with the same coach for 8 years and HAS NOT missed one single day of practice in those eight years. True dedication to his craft. He, like many of these kids, have bright futures ahead of them, and that’s what really jazz’s all of us parents of these young people.

My son Michael, a gifted cellist in his own right, played his last performance as first chair in the repertory Orchestra. He starts with the Symphony Orchestra this week! He should have been with Symphony the whole year, even his directors have told him this, but last summer he didn’t practice as he should have and had a bad audition for Symphony. These teachers and directors are very tough, but they produce great musicians and that’s what it’s all about! Now Micheal will be taking his cello and talent to college for the next level. He’s applied to six schools, and has heard from two of them so far. Miraculously, he was accepted at the University of Minnesota, now considered the most difficult college in the upper Midwest to gain admittance. He also has been accepted at Concordia in Moorhead, MN, a great smaller liberal arts school with a terrific music department. He has been offered a huge scholarship to Concordia as well! He travels to Drake University in Iowa in a couple of weeks his audition there. To his otherwise credit, Michael gets excellent grades and this fall nailed the ACT, so college admittance shouldn’t be an issue, except for the “U”, but he already got that one! His preference is still Lawrence University and Conservatory in Appleton, Wisconsin.

Michael is also quite the stage actor. He has been starring in productions since 6th grade and really has a gift. His director at Irondale says he’s natural. She commented she wouldn’t be at all surprised if one day he isn’t on Saturday Night Live! He is right now working on directing his cast for a production of a play he wrote. That will be in performance in about three weeks. He loves writing for the stage. I watched him in rehearsal one day last week, he’s quite a stern director as well! He has been such an inspiration for me too! I auditioned for and got a part in my college production of Chekhov’s The Seagull. This is literally the first thing I have ever auditioned for in my life! Don’t ever believe our kids don’t influence us!

We followed daughter Katy’s gymnastics career from age 3 to her finally retiring at the ripe old age of 18. She worked her way up from a little toddler to a Level 9 gymnast, the second highest level to attain short of “elite”, which comprises less than a couple percent of all gymnasts. Most collegiate gymnasts are Level 9 and 10’s. When she started competing at about age 8, that meant being in the gym 5 days a week, 50 weeks a year. A brutal schedule for anyone! We took her and dropped her off for all those years. We watched her and her teammates work through countless injuries and mental anguish. I don’t think there is a more brutal and intense sport than gymnastics. These kids showed me a side of toughness that many of the best traditional sports athletes would not even be close to. In the end, the 50 weeks of practice a year, the travel, and the accumulating effects of countless soft tissue injuries, finally brought Katy to retirement. It taught Katy a toughness that I know few people to have, my father comes to mind, and a heart and compassion for others that is amazing. She will be going into the field of nursing, which is perfect for her, she’s just trying to figure out which area to focus on.

That’s my take based on my experience with some of the best and brightest kids coming up in our society today. With their talent, intelligence, toughness, and compassion, my hope is the country will be left in good hands with this group forming the core of our country’s future leaders. Karen and I are so proud that we have two of those gifted future leaders as our kids. Parents, make the sacrifices for your gifted kids. Nurture them and support them as they grow in their particular area of talent. the rewards will be huge, not to mention college scholarships, which never hurt to get!

Thanks for today’s read.
Cam Obert



  1. Bob Says:

    My son played in the greater minnesota youth symphony for 3 years. Got to play one concert with the Mpls symphony

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