LAKESHORE REGIONAL NEWS: Door County, Kewaunee County, Manitowoc County, and Sheboygan County

Warren Gerds/Critic at Large: Coronavirus: Door County music center cancels summer concerts


Birch Creek Music Performance Center

A band camp performance at Birch Creek Music Performance Center in Door County. (Center photo)


The coronavirus COVID-19 is taking down another source of summer entertainment in Door County.

Canceled are Birch Creek Music Performance Center activities to Aug. 10.

Affected are 30 public concerts that are a popular draw. The concerts span percussion, symphonic and big band music.

According to the website:

The center’s board of trustees and executive director voted to cancel the center’s 2020 summer season, including all events, programs, sessions and performances from June 1 through Aug. 10.

A complication is the center attracts students and faculty from many parts of the country to its sessions of teaching and performing. Additionally, Door County attracts visitors from widespread areas. Travel advisories are in a gray area at present, and there is no way to predict their coming status.

The center has been in operation for 44 years.

A message on the website says, “Birch Creek administrative staff, and the board members who guide them, have always had at the heart of their decision making the safety of the students who study there, the communities who visit their campus, attend concerts, teach, work, and volunteer there.

“The health and safety of those who live on Birch Creek’s campus and those from the larger community of music lovers who join them each summer was the board’s highest priority when making this difficult decision to close. In any given summer, talented students, staff, and faculty from across the nation convene on the Egg Harbor campus in the heart of Door County to collaborate in a life-changing teaching-learning environment. Birch Creek offers 30 concerts in eight weeks, plus numerous free outreach performances off-campus throughout Door County. In all, Birch Creek reached over 17,000 people between paid and free concerts last year.

“The impact of a Birch Creek summer academy cancellation in the Door County community is profound. ‘We are heartbroken,’ said executive director Mona Christensen.

“In 2019, Birch Creek enrolled 173 students from eight states and six countries; employed 87 summer faculty from 15 states; and hired 20 interns and counselors from around the Midwest. Students and faculty travel to Birch Creek from across the U.S. and abroad. The massive speed and spread of COVID-19 has caused the music academy to rethink the efficacy of long-distance travel, residential living accommodations, and bringing large audiences together.

“Even with the most stringent health and safety protocols in place, the organization cannot fully mitigate risk. These safety issues, together with widespread concern facing Birch Creek’s constituencies of older populations and the families of students, point to significant challenges in maintaining the high-quality programming for which Birch Creek is known.”

Under development is a virtual learning program to be announced by June 1.

Ahead are plans for adult programs that include Adult Band Camp, Aug. 13-16, and Chamber Music Retreat, Aug. 19-22.

A fall concert series still is planned by this schedule: Sept. 5, Double Keyboard Piano; Sept. 12, Lawrence University Jazz Faculty Combo; Sept. 19, Tom Garling Sextet; Oct. 10, The Associates’ fall fundraiser with percussion and steel band faculty: Dan Moore, Rodrigo Villanueva and Wesley Morgan; Dec. 5, “Christmas at Birch Creek.”

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