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In 1945, University of the Pacific president Robert Burns, in keeping with the school's basic philosophy of "pioneer or perish," initiated the concept of using the University and Conservatory of Music as the site of a summer music program for pre-college music students.  He felt that making the total facilities of a university available to teenagers would serve as an inspirational foretaste of life and learning on a college campus.

Pacific Music Camp was founded in 1946 by David T. Lawson.  Lawson, a music teacher in Topeka, Kansas at the time, was persuaded to move to Stockton by John Elliot, Dean of the Conservatory of Music, and J. Marc Jantzen, Dean of the Pacific Summer Sessions. 

The intent of the camp was to bring in world-class musicians to work with local high school students and music teachers. Percy Grainger, Ferde Grofe, William Revelli, Arthur Fiedler and Frederick Fennell head a list of distinguished guest conductors that have worked at PMC over the years.

Pacific Music Camp is one of the oldest music camps in California. The first camp opened in 1946 with an enrollment of 125 high school students.  In 2011, we served approximately 450 junior and senior high schools students from 280 different schools in 150 cities in 10 states.

Alumni include Cornelius Bumpus of the Doobie Brothers and Phil Lesh of the Grateful Dead. Arthur Fielder, who conducted the Boston Pops Orchestra for 50 years, was a guest conductor in the 1960's. 

Camp structure has varied over the past 64 years.  Currently, Pacific Music Camp includes 3 one-week sessions with instruction in band, orchestra, choir, jazz, piano, and includes over 70 faculty & staff.


  • 1946 - Band, Orchestra and Choir offered over a 6-week period.
  • 1968 - Piano Camp added.
  • 1986-95 - Pacific Jazz Experience featuring alumni of the Stan Kenton Band.
  • 2003 - Jazz Camp added.
  • 2003 - Choir and Piano Camps reinstated after a 10-year absence.
  • 2007 – New computer lab enables Music Composition elective class to be offered.
  • 2007 – Pacific Music Camp Endowed Fund established.
  • 2009 – New Recording Studio enables Recording Studio Techniques class to be offered.
  • 2009 - PMC reaches an all-time enrollment record for a one-week period with 250 students served.
  • 2011 - Pacific Music Camp receives a $10,000 grant from the National Endowment for the Arts.
  • 2013 - Music Business Camp added.
  • 2017 - Pacific Music Camp receives a $10,000 grant from the National Endowment for the Arts.