Birch Creek Music Performance Center in Egg Harbor opens its 34th season on Thursday, June 25 at 7:30 pm with its 80-piece Birch Creek Symphony Orchestra.
Twenty-nine evening performances and one additional STARZ concert will be held on campus during the 2009 season, with the symphony portion of the season being followed by concerts in percussion and steel band, and big band jazz. In addition to evening concerts, the Town of Egg Harbor will be the sponsor for four free Saturday afternoon family concerts on July 4, July 18, August 1, and August 15. In addition, Birch Creek faculty and students perform in the outdoor “Concerts in the Park” series that are held in the villages of Egg Harbor, Fish Creek, Sister Bay, Jacksonport, and Ellison Bay.
James N. and Frances Dutton founded Birch Creek in Egg Harbor in 1976. The first (and only) concert that year, percussion and guitar, was held in the Dutton’s summer home. The teachers were Jim’s colleagues, some from the American Conservatory of Music in Chicago where Jim chaired the percussion department, and there were 12 students.
The following year, the Duttons purchased a 40-acre, 100-year-old farmstead on County E across from their A-frame and began creating a summer music performance school. The granary was renovated for use as a student dorm, and the barn for concerts. Students and faculty ate meals together and performed together, a pattern that continues today. By 1978, student enrollment had reached 53, with 11 concerts over a five-week season. By 1980, 22 concerts were offered and included 4 free concerts for the community. Concert attendance has grown steadily, reaching 3,950 in the early 1980s and stabilizing during recent years around 7,000.
Approximately 200 students enroll in Birch Creek each summer, and nearly 100 faculty members teach classes. Since the 1990s, capital projects, including a current $3 million capital campaign, have grown the original farmstead from 3 to 12 buildings, adding essential rehearsal space, storage areas, classrooms, and student and faculty sleeping rooms.
Birch Creek’s 165-member volunteer organization, The Associates, greets concertgoers, distributes posters, and raises funds through special events and the sale of concessions on concert evenings.
For more information about Birch Creek’s 2009 schedule or how to get tickets, call 920.868.3763 or visit http://www.birchcreek.org.