SIDNEY — Most people have heard the music of clarinetist Jon Manasse, though they might not realize it.

Manasse, who will perform locally twice this month, has played his instrument for the soundtracks of films including Disney’s “Pocahontas,” “Hunchback of Notre Dame” and “Aladdin.”

This week, Manasse, 48, is teaching during a one-week residency at the New England Music Camp, where he will perform Wednesday night and Sunday afternoon.

Manasse first attended the summer music camp in 1977, when he was 12. The residency is a homecoming to a place that still feels magical, he said.

“It’s hard to describe,” Manasse said. “What you see in anybody that has come here or attended, there’s a glow in their countenance when they talk about the New England Music Camp.”

Manasse said the camp has an air of authenticity, helped by the remote forest setting, camp rules against cellphones and other electronic devices and long-standing traditions involving four generations of the Wiggin family, who have run the camp since 1937.

For the past seven years, the camp has invited former students back to work with current campers.

Camp co-director Kim Wiggin said Manasse, whose 15-year-old son, Alec, has been a student at the camp for the past three years, was a natural choice for the residency because of his success as a professional musician.

He has played in some of the world’s most prestigious orchestras and venues, including Carnegie Hall, the American Ballet Theater Orchestra, the New York Chamber Symphony, the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra, and the New York Philharmonic. He is also a faculty member at The Juilliard School of dance, drama and music in New York City.

Manasse and his son will perform a jazz duet Wednesday during a performance that begins at 8 p.m. in the camp’s Alumni Hall.

At 3 p.m. Sunday, when Manasse performs with the student symphony orchestra during a concert at the Bowl-in-the-Pines, the performance will have a special meaning for him. He is playing Mozart’s clarinet concerto, a piece he first learned as a student more than 30 years ago at the camp, when his performance netted him first place in a concerto competition.

“Then, I was a student performing it with the faculty orchestra,” he said. “Now, as a guest coming back and as an alumnus, I will be playing it with the student orchestra.”

The events are part of a larger summer schedule that, beginning the last week of June, typically includes public performances by the camp’s students and faculty every Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday.

Manasse said he first took clarinet lessons when he was 11, after a music store owner on Long Island suggested the instrument would be a good match for him.

While Manasse and his wife, a cellist, are both dedicated to music, they aren’t making any assumptions about the career choices of Alec and their other two children.

“We’ll see how it goes for them,” he said. “I don’t think music is anything that should be rammed down someone’s throat.”

Manasse said playing music is a strange blend of self and community.

“Practicing is a very peaceful and magical time of solitude,” he said. “You have a chance to really be fully present and alive and witness this growth in yourself.”

But the solitary hours are done in the service of live performances, he said, where performers feel “the joy of fully releasing and expressing what you’ve spent so much time refining while you’re alone.”

The New England Music Camp, he said, maintains an atmosphere that is particularly rewarding for music-lovers.

“The whole community is designed around this infectious love for music,” he said.

He said residents of the area should consider attending the performances, even if they don’t think of themselves as fans of classical music.

“Stop thinking about it in terms of classical music, or jazz or rock,” he said. “It’s all music. It needs to be experienced.”

 

Matt Hongoltz-Hetling can be contacted at 861-9287 or at:

mhhetling@centralmaine.com