For the love of music, local woman shares her passion with youth

For the love of music, local woman shares her passion with youth
Cellists in a technique class, taught by Linda Minke

Music is Jeanne Jones Majors’ life. It’s her vocation, her pass-ion and, not having had children of her own, the Prelude Chamber Music Camp is her baby.

The Ortega resident “gave birth” to the local camp in 2002; this year the 15-year-old camp and festival provided a week-long opportunity for 68 children from Jacksonville and out of state to drown themselves in music theory, composition and technique.

Jeanne Majors, founder and director of Prelude Chamber Music Camp

Jeanne Majors, founder and director of Prelude Chamber Music Camp

Majors credits her own young start in music as the seed for the yearly camp. “I started on piano at age three, but began violin lessons in the fourth grade at Ortega Elementary School,” she said. Majors still lives in the Ortega home she grew up in. Her father, Jasper Jones, sold insurance and, as a young man, taught many residents how to swim at the Florida Yacht Club. Her mother, Minna, was an elementary school music teacher for nearly four decades.

During the summer Majors would study at the Brevard Music Camp, in Brevard, North Carolina, eventually serving on the faculty there. “I had a wonderful summer study with wonderful teachers; this stayed in my mind a little bit and that’s why I ‘Prelude,’” she said.

While a freshman at Jacksonville University in 1965, Majors auditioned with the Jacksonville Symphony, conducted by John Canarina, and was accepted.

“Back when I was growing up, the conductor was James Christian Pfohl, whose wife, Carolyn Day Pfohl, was the county music supervisor,” Majors said. “James founded the Brevard Music Center [formerly Transylvania Music Camp], which is where I received my base of learning technique from George Orner [founder of the Jacksonville Symphony].”

Except for a two-year break while she earned her Master’s in music at the University of Cincinnati, Majors has been playing violin with the Jacksonville Symphony Orchestra for 50 years. A recent widow, she was married for nearly 32 years to saxophone player Brent Majors.

Just as Majors went from camper to teacher at Brevard, early students at Prelude are now instructors, including Joseph Henderson, who taught violin, Victor Huls, a cello coach in the Intensive Track, Hannah Barrow, who also serves on the camp’s Board of Directors, and Selah Welton, a UNF freshman who brought her own students to the camp, held at Riverside Park United Methodist Church. Some of the instructors are fellow symphony musicians.

Prospective campers audition in April for one of three tracks – Primary, Prelude and Intensive – with one teacher for every four students, ages 7 to 18. Approximately 50-60 percent are returning students.

“They are all eager to learn,” said Majors. “Whatever track they are in, they do get down to business with the teachers.”

Ensembles from the Prelude and Intensive tracks performed in the camp’s finale performance at Friday Musicale with the Vega String Quartet.

By Kate A. Hallock
Resident Community News

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