Birch Creek’s Symphony Series Features Violinist Hanford

Robert Hanford, Concertmaster with the Lyric Opera, ascends the stage in the Dutton Concert Barn at Birch Creek for his eleventh season as Concertmaster of the Birch Creek Symphony Orchestra. Hanford will be the featured soloist in Bruch’s Scottish Fantasy, a composition for violin and orchestra. Completed in 1880, the work is a four-movement fantasy on Scottish folk melodies. Birch Creek’s Symphony sessions wrap up July 4.

“The melodies are beautiful Scottish folk tunes,” Hanford says about the music. “The introduction is reminiscent of a bard telling a story of ancient times while gazing at a ruined castle.”

Hanford’s description of the introduction sets the scene of 18th-Century Scotland. Bruch’s composition continues with ancient Scottish melodies woven throughout, including “Hey Tuttie Tatie,” the folk melody for the national anthem “Scots Wha Hae.” The anthem was written in 1793 in the form of a speech for Robert I, King of the Scots, which, as legend has it, was delivered to his troops before going into battle.

Together with Birch Creek’s other 31 symphony faculty members and teaching assistants, Hanford instructs, rehearses, and performs alongside 50 Birch Creek symphony students to assure concertgoers of excellent performances.

Birch Creek students have the rare opportunity of having Hanford as an instructor. The Lyric Opera, with as many as 96 performances a season, consumes a good portion of Hanford’s time, and his position on the faculty of Northwestern University takes most of the rest. His responsibilities allow him to take on only a few private students. Birch Creek students, though, are not only taught by but play alongside Hanford in concert.

Symphony concerts occur on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights through July 4. The concerts are at 8 pm, with student ensembles performing in the campus Gazebo or in Juniper Hall at 7:30 pm. A special Pops Concert is planned on July 4 at 6:30 pm, with a pie and ice-cream social at 5:30 pm. On July 4 all children 11-years-old and younger will be admitted for free. Birch Creek’s Percussion and Steel Band concerts begin on July 9 with “Percussion a la Carte.” Adult ticket prices are $29, with tickets for young adults ages 12-20 and college students $10. Children 11 and under are admitted for $6.

For more information, call 920.868.3763 or visit