Kinhaven is the legacy and life work of David Dushkin (1898-1986) and Dorothy Smith Dushkin (1903-1992). They met in Paris, where both of them studied composition with Nadia Boulanger. Their backgrounds were very different: Dorothy Dushkin was a graduate of Smith College, while David Dushkin was born in Russian Poland, one of thirteen children. David’s family emigrated to New York when he was a small child (his brother Samuel toured with Stravinsky and premiered the Stravinsky Violin Concerto). Dorothy Dushkin, like David, came from a musical family. Choral singing was especially important.
In 1952, the Dushkin’s opened Kinhaven Music School in Weston, Vermont with 13 students. David Dushkin, the Director, emphasized chamber music and Dorothy Dushkin encouraged singing and began the tradition of closing the summer session with group singing–usually a Bach cantata. From the beginning, Kinhaven’s central purpose has been the sharing of music through chamber music and singing.
Kinhaven grew in the 1950s and 1960s. Its core program, called Senior Session today, was its only summer session, and it eventually served 90 student musicians. Jerry Bidlack arrived as conductor in 1967 and became Kinhaven’s Executive Director in 1981. Kinhaven soon followed the senior session with a two-week adult chamber music session, which featured a mix of typical chamber music as well as recorder ensemble music. Nancy Bidlack, who had served on the faculty since 1970, was named Director of Admissions. In 1990, Nancy’s dream program,a two-week session for middle school musicians finally came into being. She was named Director of Junior Session, and the program flourished.
In the early 1990s, Mary Watt, a long-time Senior Session faculty member, established the Chamber Music Workshop while Leander Bien, also a long-time faculty member, founded the Piano Workshop. Both programs, designed for college-age and adult musicians, employed the theme of Kinhaven’s core mission: to present musicians with an opportunity to focus on high level music making in a supportive and nurturing environment.
In 2004, Jerry Bidlack retired as Director of Senior Session, and Nancy Bidlack became the director of both Junior and Senior Sessions. 2010 marked Nancy’s final year as Director of both sessions, and the Board of Trustees chose long-time faculty members Deborah Buck and Anthony Mazzocchi to serve as Executive Directors of Kinhaven Music School, Inc., and to lead Senior Session. Sandy Dennis and Marty Knieriem, faculty members since the inception of Junior Session in 1990, were chosen to become its new Directors.
David Dushkin remembers [Written circa 1971]:
Starting a music camp limited to summer session was an adventure for us with all sorts of unknowns and no assurance we could make a go of it. We remodeled our old barn into a few studios and living quarters for thirteen children for the first summer of 1952, hoping they would prove the validity of our dream that children of similar musical interests, removed for seven weeks from the compromises and conflicts undermining their gifts, can actually live with music and greatly profit thereby. Using the barn and the main house we launched the camp, which my wife had the inspiration to call Kinhaven…
From the second year onward the camp grew much beyond anything we had anticipated… We accumulated more land and buildings, a larger library and a more expert staff of professional musicians as well as general counselors. Our age level went up by several years and musical competence increased enormously. The outlines of today’s Kinhaven emerged.
Dorothy and David Dushkin with students from the 1966 Season. Left Front: Diane Raffman, Flute, 1966-67; Back Row (left to right): Dorothy Dushkin, Debbie Freedman, Viola, 1965-66; Elliot Fine, Violin/Viola 1963-68 Becky Kapell, Flute/Piano, 1966-67; Addie Schwartz, Flute, 1966-67 and Chris Cambell, Violin 1966; Right Front: David Dushkin