Tally-Ho Music Camp was founded in 1948 by Fred I. Bradley and his wife, Dorotha Bradley, at their extensive rural property in Richmond Mills, in the Bristol Hills area near the towns of Livonia and Honeoye, NY. As shown on the copy below of the cover of the Camp’s 1949 brochure, their stated founding vision was “to make a significant positive influence” on young musician-students. Mr. and Mrs. B wanted to offer to young people of the area an opportunity to live together in a rural environment, to develop their talents, and to share a musical experience. They expressed a “desire that we may help contribute to the moral, mental and physical development of these young people.”
Their thesis was, “To learn, ‘live and let live’, together.”
During 6-week summer seasons from 1948 through 1965, talented young musicians rehearsed daily and performed under noted college and high school music directors. Senior counselors, many former campers themselves, were college students – often enrolled toward music degrees. In 1952, an orchestra program was added to the camp’s initial band program, and in 1963 vocalists were admitted and musical productions first performed. All campers participated in a choral program. Weekly, each of the instrumentalists took individual lessons, often with faculty members from the Eastman School of Music who would drive from nearby Rochester to the camp.
Each Sunday parents and friends would join the campers for picnics, followed by an evening concert open to the public. The respective band, orchestra and chorus played from within a lighted bandshell that was located at the bottom of a south-sloping hill. Up and across the hill, the audience relaxed upon blankets or lawn chairs they had brought, their senses enjoying a combination of the music, bucolic views across the region’s hills, fading twilight and, ultimately, sunset. It is said that no concert was ever “completely” cancelled due to rain, but old-timers recall a number of close calls. Altogether, 107 Sunday-evening concerts were presented during Tally-Ho Music Camp’s 18 seasons.
It was a tradition (seen above) that, just before concert intermissions, the entire trumpet/cornet section of the band would march from the bandshell to the flagpole and play the “Lowering of The Colors”.
Living in dorms at the camp, Tally-Ho campers enjoyed more than music, also participating in recreational activities and teen-age relaxation. Each morning before ensemble rehearsals, groups completed various assigned chores, referred to as “details”. Rumor has it that girls assigned to the House Detail might have short-sheeted beds of Mr. and Mrs. B (more than once!).
As seen above, group meals were held in a former carriage shed (the house, a former stagecoach stop between Canandaigua and Buffalo, was constructed in 1816-and was still a private residence in 2008, when this overview was written). The two black-&-white pictures of the house were taken one fall during the 1960’s.
Often in sectional rehearsals, but usually on their own, campers daily set music stands under trees or in nearby open fields to practice. Motorists passing by on the country road, often surprised upon hearing the pure musical tones, would smile as they unknowingly experienced displays of what were parts of poignant lyrics in the Tally-Ho Camp Song — “We all practice and play every day, to improve on our horns as we may,” and, “As the hills resound with echoes, Welcome to Tally-Ho Camp!” (see Recordings)
The annual six-week summer seasons were attended by as many as 90 musicians. Campers were primarily from New York State and Pennsylvania, nearby New Jersey and Ohio, also further points such as Louisiana, California, Texas and Canada. Many of the campers went on to professional musical careers, involving performing and teaching, including professorships. Many others have had significant careers in a wide variety of professions — business, medicine, scientific research, service areas, and also teaching in fields other than music.
Altogether, 720 talented young musicians attended Tally-Ho Music Camp through the years, accumulating almost 1300 summers as campers. Because of shared mutual interests in performing music, and also having lived and played closely together during important formative teen-age years, many strong friendships were made… with some lasting for decades. About ten couples who met at Tally-Ho are known to have eventually married.
Starting in 2004, a number of former Tally-Ho campers once again began communicating, benefiting from search/research tools of the Internet age. Two years later, contact-information regarding almost half of the long-ago camper group was being shared among an ever-expanding group. Some found pictures that had been saved from way-back-when, and many of those not included in this website now can be viewed (and downloaded) from a free password-protected interactive Tally-Ho Music Camp picture and message-exchange website available only to former campers.
Frequent encouragement that there be an All-Years Tally-Ho Music Camp Reunion led to a successful three-day event in a href=”/reunions/06reunion/introduction”>2006.
On July 1, 2006, a group of by-then middle-aged adults, about 125 of the total of 700+ musicians who had attended Tally-Ho Music Camp sometime during its eighteen summers, celebrated being together again for a music-filled, memory-filled and fun-filled weekend. Defying Thomas Wolfe, the group enjoyed a range of events throughout that weekend and most agreed that they did “go home again” during that happy reunion.
The powerful and positive significance of the many experiences and friendships that they enjoyed as young musicians at Tally-Ho was especially evident late one afternoon during the reunion when everyone visited the former camp-property. With champagne glasses held high in respect to the important vision of Fred and Dorotha Bradley, that group of “still kids” was wonderfully and emotionally moved when unannounced, a former-camper quietly raised his horn. Without a word being spoken, while producing a perfect blending of soft-yet-strong bugle tones, he played an incredibly sensitive “Taps” in salute to Mr. and Mrs. B — there was nary a dry eye anywhere.