Camille Denman

Camille Denman will perform with Loveland Orchestra this weekend. The high school senior won the orchestra’s Young Artist Competition in 2020 to earn her solo spot. (Photo courtesy of Melissa Plantz)

Telluride High School senior Camille Denman was born into a family of musicians and has played the violin since she was five years old.  

"I was always connected with music, and I always loved the violin," said Camille Denman.

In March of 2020, Camille Denman won the Loveland Orchestra's Young Artist Competition. She earned first place, besting 21 high school contestants who played all instruments. Every year, the competition attracts young musicians from around the country. It offers the winner a $1,000 cash prize, and the rare opportunity to perform a solo with the well-renown adult orchestra.

Sydney Denman, Camille's mother, will accompany her to this weekend's performance. She is excited that her daughter has the chance to play with the orchestra.

“The Loveland Orchestra is a high-quality orchestra. It's a particularly sought out competition because of the opportunity to play with the orchestra. For an adult orchestra to host a young musician and then allow that person to play with the orchestra's just rare,” she said.

According to an article in the Loveland-Reporter Herald from Sept. 3, “The Loveland Orchestra consists of over 60 musicians, amateur and professional, from Loveland and the surrounding area.”

Over a year after winning the competition, Camille Denman will finally perform her chosen piece, "Dvorak Violin Concerto," accompanied by the orchestra.

She chose the piece after hearing her friend play it on the violin at summer camp.  

“I already knew and loved it (the Dvorak Violin Concerto)," Camille said. “Then my friend played it, and that helped me to love it even more.”

She has been working on the piece since March of this year. In the summer, she practiced five to six hours a day, seven days a week. However, during the school year, that number has gone down to three hours a day.

Camille won the competition in late March of 2020, right before the pandemic all but wiped away live performances. Throughout the past year, Camille Denman found it “tricky to stay motivated” when practicing without a live performance in sight.

“There are some days where you're just more inspired artistically to practice more. It was good because I had more time. Of course, there were some days where it was harder to practice when you didn't have a performance that you were looking forward to. But I had the lessons on Zoom every week. I had smaller goals that I was able to think about while practicing. That helped a lot," Camille said.

“My favorite thing about violin and music is how emotional it is and how deep the music can be," she said. “I like focusing on connecting phrases in the music with human emotions and things. It's really special to see how they're both connected.”

For the Denman family, music has always been a source of connection. When Camille and her younger sister, Juliet, were little, they played violin in Shakespeare in the Park at Telluride's Town Park. The pair also would perform impromptu street performances on Colorado Avenue.  

Both the Telluride community and the music community here have been essential parts of Camille Denman's life.

“Within Telluride, a lot of people have watched her grow up," said Sydney Denman about her oldest daughter. "She went to Rainbow Preschool and has been a part of the Alpine Ski Team. Then she has this very high-level playing community. They're very different."

Camille has traveled all around Colorado, connecting with musicians from across the globe. Currently, she travels to Denver to study violin with Eugenia Alikhanova, a former violinist for the Moscow String Quartet in Russia. Despite her frequent travels, Camille will always call Telluride home.

“Telluride is a small valley,” said Sydney. “When you go somewhere else, you always want to come back.”

Camille plans to spend the competition's $1,000 cash prize on her craft. Not the typical high schooler, she said the money "will go towards my violin lessons, or my summer music festival expenses. Really the prize will go back into the violin."