Birch Creek Receives Les Paul Foundation Grant

Birch Creek Music Performance Center’s jazz guitar instruction is built on mentorship and live performance, and this successful educational model was recognized for the third consecutive year with a grant from the Les Paul Foundation.

Rick Haydon, professor of music at Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville, leads guitar instruction at Birch Creek. Haydon has studied and performed with guitar masters including Johnny Smith, Howard Roberts and Bucky Pizzarelli. Pizzarelli introduced Haydon to Les Paul at a concert in New York City, and Haydon remembers Paul defining the “new generation of guitar musician” who would become involved in the sound and technology of music. “I am that musician,” Haydon said. He designed, built and manages the SIUE recording studio and is head of the guitar program there. At Birch Creek, Haydon and fellow guitar faculty member, Larry Brown, introduce students to many of Les Paul’s performing and recording innovations.

Executive Director of the Les Paul Foundation, Michael Braunstein, announced spring 2015 grant awards in April. Those organizations that receive Les Paul Foundation grants encourage young people to pursue their curiosity and innovation about music, sound and engineering.

On June 18, Birch Creek will launch its 40th anniversary year. The Percussion & Steel Band session’s Opening Night Concert “Celebrating Four Decades of Hits in the Barn,” is an apt beginning to eight weeks of academic sessions and accompanying public concerts in jazz, percussion & steel band, and symphony. For more information visit