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      Music invades shores of Little Lake

      Twenty of the best high school string players from across the Upper Peninsula and beyond are in Little Lake this week for the Superior String Alliance Advanced Camp.

      Music from the Pirates of the Caribbean movie series is part of what the string orchestra is preparing for their final performance this Friday night, according to cellist Petra Rantanen.

      "It's movie music so it's all really dramatic and it's a medley of all the main songs in Pirates, but we're also doing some arrangements of some famous pieces like the Barber of Seville," said Rantanen.

      This is Rantanen's fourth summer at the camp. The high school senior comes all the way from Champaign, Illinois.

      Violinist Gabe Clement is in his own backyard. It is the Marquette eight grader's eighth summer at an S.S.A. camp.

      "You get one-on-one experience, and you get to experience it with everyone else because usually people just play solos and sometimes they don't learn because they don't play with a full orchestra," said Clement.

      "The campers play their instruments for five hours a day, and this dedication makes for a unique performance," said orchestra director Danielle Simandl.

      "There's a very specific energy that comes from a camp orchestra, where everyone's been spending so much time together for the past week, there's just this very palpable energy in the room," she said.

      "I like how we can meet new friends and just play together, something we all like to do, and that's why we're coming here," Clement said.

      The campers are being guided by several local college students and recent graduates who are pursuing music as a profession. Simandl is a Marquette native who is getting her master's degree in violin performance from DePaul University.

      "It's such a great environment for everybody, because not only are the kids learning their music and doing their thing that they came out here to do, but for us it's a really good opportunity to become better teachers, and everyone just takes stuff from each other on how to learn to be better musicians," said Simandl.

      The orchestra's final concert is this Friday at 7 p.m. at the Page Center off highway M-35 in Little Lake. Admission to the performance is free.