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Warren Gerds/Critic at Large: Birch Creek performances start June 19

Evening concert series draw thousands of listeners.

GREEN BAY, Wis. (WFRV) – Birch Creek Music Performance Center is gearing up for its 2014 season of summer concerts in its unique performance hall – a converted barn (a larger complex than it sounds) – east of Egg Harbor in Door County. Information is at www.birchcreek.org.

The center, a teaching facility that offers popular public concerts, presents four sets of concerts (two in one category). It is estimated that Birch Creek will serve more than 11,000 people in Door County with performances and educational programs in 2014.

From press releases, here is an outline of the overall season, which runs from June 19 to Aug. 9:

- The Percussion and Steel Band session under program director Ben Wahlund kicks off the season June 19. Concerts highlight the styles of jazz, rock, Afro-Cuban, Caribbean and Brazilian and Indian cultures. The “Drumming Grooves and Dance Moves” concert June 21 includes Latin dance instruction by Orlando Cotto, and the “Hot Nights/Cool Jazz” concert June 25 is followed by “Night Sky Viewing” with the Door Peninsula Astronomical Society.

- Concerts for the Symphony session, under program director Ricardo Castañeda, start July 3 and unite students with the faculty into an 80-piece orchestra. The July 4 concert, which is free for children ages 6 to 11, includes the annual pie and ice cream social starting at 5:30pm. Renée-Paule Gauthier, violin, is featured in Corigliano’s “The Red Violin” during the “Rocky No. 2” concert July 10. Jodie DeSalvo is featured in Gershwin’s “Rhapsody in Blue” during the “Boléro in Blue” concert July 11. The 2013 Burton Concerto Award winners Naomi Black, trombone, and Andrew Reed, violin, share the spotlight in the “Painting with Sounds” concerts July 3 and 5.

- Big Band Jazz I and II concerts are scheduled with a newly revised lineup from program director Jeff Campbell. Featured faculty artists include Mike Lee, tenor sax, July 19; Tom Garling, trombone, July 24; Joey Tartell, trumpet, July 25; Scott Burns, alto sax, July 26; David Bixler, alto sax, Aug. 2; Doug Stone, tenor sax, Aug. 6; Reggie Thomas, piano, Aug. 7. The annual Dutton Memorial Concert, honoring founder Jim Dutton, is Aug. 9.

Four evening public concerts featuring the Janice Borla Vocal Jazz Camp faculty artists will run Tuesday through Friday, Aug. 12-15, with a fifth concert on Saturday, Aug. 16, showcasing all camp participants performing with the faculty rhythm section.

Ticket prices are $29 adults, $10 students and $6 children (11 and younger). New this year is a reserved section, which is comprised of the first few rows in the center section of the 500-seat Dutton Concert Barn. All reserved section seats are $34. Group rates are available for parties of 20 or more.

All concerts start at 8 p.m., with the exception of the July 4 concert, which starts at 6:30 p.m. Prelude concerts are held at the courtyard gazebo or in Juniper Hall 30 to 45 minutes prior to the main concert.

Earlier this year, Birch Creek received a grant of $13,090 from the Wisconsin Arts Board. The grant, awarded through the Creation & Presentation Program, supports Birch Creek’s mission of providing intensive, performance-based instruction to promising young musicians.

Students in all five Door County public schools benefit from Birch Creek’s annual “Artists in the Schools” outreach program, which has served more than 3,000 students since its inception in 2001-2002. “Artists in the Schools” engages youth in learning a wide variety of music from Birch Creek’s professional faculty members, and in the ethnic and social history of big band jazz, percussion & steel band, and symphony.

You may email me at warren.gerds@wearegreenbay.com. Watch for my on-air features on WFRV between 6 and 8 a.m. Sundays.

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