About Birch Creek Music Performance Center

James and Frances Dutton founded Birch Creek in Egg Harbor in 1976 to pair professionals in the music industry with promising young music students. The first (and only) concert that year, percussion & 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, 79-year-old farmstead across the road from their summer home for their music performance school. The granary was renovated for use as a student dorm, the farmhouse as a dining hall and the barn for concerts. During the day, students were involved in rehearsals, classes and seminars. At night, they joined the faculty in large and small ensembles to perform concerts for the public in the barn. Students and faculty ate meals 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 four free concerts for the community; the season had expanded to eight weeks, and the two-week sessions included not only percussion but also symphony and jazz. In 2018, 30 concerts were offered over an eight-week season with an additional 30 free outreach concerts for the community; 175 students enrolled and were taught by a faculty of 90.

In the winter of 1992, Birch Creek was sold to a reorganized board of trustees. The barn was dedicated the James N. Dutton Concert Barn, and the Box Office was later named for Fran. Throughout that decade, structural improvements continued on the farmstead and new construction added administrative, kitchen/dining, and dormitory buildings. A $3M capital campaign in 2008 resulted in the construction of three new year-round facilities, nearly doubling Birch Creek’s footprint and creating the nine-building campus that is in use today.

The Executive Director position was created in 1998 and for two decades, Birch Creek has had just three individuals in this leadership role, resulting in fully developed summer education programs and concerts. The current Executive Director has expanded student recruitment efforts, streamlined staff positions, deepened constituents’ access to services through online portals, and worked in a leadership capacity with the Board of Trustees to update campus telecommunications and infrastructure.

Birch Creek now serves students and the local community in an ever-growing capacity with expanded and winterized facilities. The new buildings directly address student and faculty needs during the summer, and provide opportunities for us to add post-season concerts, expand educational offerings for teachers, and offer rental space to other area nonprofit organizations. Thus, Birch Creek begins its 44th year positioned to grow as a major force for music education and cultural enrichment in Wisconsin.

Our Mission

To provide intensive, performance-based instruction to promising young musicians by immersing them in a professional, mentoring environment.

AUDIO & VIDEO   •   COMMUNITY OUTREACH   •   BOARD & STAFF

Office Hours:  9:00 AM – 4:00 PM, Monday – Friday