Birch Creek
Symphony Program

Birch Creek’s program is unique in symphony and chamber music education in that it incorporates a student/mentor approach in virtually every aspect of training. Students rehearse and perform alongside their teachers, receiving an abundance of personal attention. In such a nurturing environment, students progress at an amazing rate. Seven public performances of four completely different orchestral programs are given over the two-week session. Consequently, students develop excellent practice habits and rehearsal skills.

Symphony Academy Session

June 28 – July 11, 2020  |  Tuition: $2,100

Need-based and merit scholarships are available.

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Detailed admissions information, can be found in the Application Instructions on the Apply Now page.
$100 Application Fee due upon registration, applied to tuition.

Areas of Study

Repertoire – Standard orchestral literature is rehearsed and performed.  2020 repertoire will include:

    • Gustave Mahler’s Symphony No. 1 in D Major “The Titan”
    • Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s Symphony No. 40 in G minor “The Great g minor”
    • Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky’s Romeo and Juliet Suite

Additional 2020 repertoire will be posted on this page when confirmed.

Suggested Playing Levels (PDF)

Orchestra Rehearsals – 2-4 hours daily depending on performance schedule and repertoire

Sectionals – 1 hour daily. In classes of like instruments, students learn from experienced faculty how to prepare difficult orchestral passages in a short time for the next rehearsal or concert.

Chamber Ensembles – 1 hour daily. Students experience another facet of the professional musician’s life with performance opportunities during concert preludes and intermissions.

Daily Techniques – 2 hours daily. Technique and seminars on topics pertinent to the music profession round out the weekly schedule.

For detailed admissions information, including AUDITION RECORDING REQUIREMENTS, go to the Apply Now page.

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Nimrod Variation from Variations on an Original Theme, Op. 36

Composer: Sir Edward Elgar
Conductor: Brian Groner
Play length: 3:53

At Birch Creek, students combine with the faculty to form the 80 member Birch Creek Symphony Orchestra. They perform 6 concerts (4 entirely different programs) during their 2-week residency, plus have numerous opportunities to perform in their chamber ensembles.

Ricardo Castañeda
Symphony Program Director | Oboe

Oak Park, IL

2019 marks Ricardo Castañeda’s 22nd year at Birch Creek. Ricardo Castañeda received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in music performance from Northwestern University, where he was a student of Ray Still, former Principal Oboist of The Chicago Symphony. Mr. Castañeda is a winner of the Northwestern University Concerto Competition and a recipient of the Wade Fetzer award for excellence in performance. Having made his solo debut with the National Symphony of El Salvador at age fifteen, he has since appeared as a soloist in Latin America, Europe and the United States. Mr. Castañeda is currently Principal Oboist with the Lake Forest Symphony Orchestra and Chicago Sinfonietta, and solo English Horn with The Illinois Philharmonic Orchestra. Mr. Castañeda is also a member of the Chicago Ensemble and Barossa Woodwind Quintet. Previous positions include Principal Oboist with the South Bend Symphony Orchestra, Elgin Symphony Orchestra and solo English Horn with the Mexico City Philharmonic. An active freelance musician, Mr. Castañeda enjoys performing all genres of music. He has played with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Lyric Opera Orchestra, Grant Park Symphony, Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra, Chicago Opera Theater and has been principal oboist for orchestras for The Bolshoi Ballet, American Ballet Theater, and Joffrey Ballet as well as numerous Broadway in Chicago shows.

Website: www.niu.edu/music/faculty/jrcastaneda.shtml

Jodie DeSalvo
Piano

Naples, FL

Jodie DeSalvo is a frequent soloist with the Naples Philharmonic Orchestra. She has toured extensively as a piano soloist appearing with the orchestras of Chicago, Geneva, Lucerne, San Francisco, Hartford and Chautauqua. DeSalvo also has a recital/lecture series at the Artis-Naples and has numerous CDs to her credit. In recent years, she has added the comedy of Victor Borge to her repertoire, with interpretations of his skits, including Phonetic Punctuation and Inflationary Language, as well as writing her own original material. 2019 will mark her 23rd year as a Birch Creek faculty member.

Barbara Drapcho
Clarinet

Chicago, IL

Barbara Drapcho holds both Bachelors and Masters Degrees from Northwestern University. As a member of Quintet Attacca, she has performed on New York City’s Schneider Concert Series, Chamber Music Society of Detroit, and numerous Chicagoland series. Drapcho is also a member of New Philharmonic, has performed as a soloist with Chicago Arts Orchestra, and is a former member of the Civic Orchestra of Chicago. She is on faculty at the Music Institute of Chicago and North Park
University.

Robert Everson
Percussion

Oak Park, IL

Robert Everson is the timpanist with several orchestras in the Chicago area, including the Chicago Philharmonic, the Elgin Symphony Orchestra, the Ravinia Festival Orchestra, the Lake Forest Symphony, the Chicago Sinfonietta, and the Joffrey Ballet Orchestra. He earned his Bachelor and Master degrees in Percussion Performance from DePaul University, and is the percussion instructor at Concordia University Chicago in River Forest, Illinois.

Website: www.cuchicago.edu/faculty/music/robert-everson/

 

Shannon Finney
Flute/Piccolo

Kansas City, MO

Shannon Finney is Associate Principal Flute with the Kansas City Symphony. She is also a member of the Kansas City-based chamber music ensemble, Summerfest. Finney has been with Birch Creek for 15 years.

Website: www.kcsymphony.org/ContentCtl/ViewAct/Musician/46

John Gaudette
Bassoon

Chicago, IL

John Gaudette studied at the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia, PA. He played in the Dallas Symphony, CBC Radio Orchestra, and was assistant principal in the Vancouver Symphony. Gaudette freelances in the Chicago area with the Chicago Symphony and Philharmonic, Lyric Opera of Chicago, Music of the Baroque, and Fulcrum Point. He currently teaches at Northern Illinois University and the University of Illinois in Chicago.

Renée-Paule Gauthier
Concertmaster

Chicago, IL

Renée-Paule Gauthier is a passionate performer and teacher whose career has taken her across the United States and Canada as a soloist, recitalist, chamber musician, orchestral leader, and clinician. Dr. Gauthier joins the Chicago Lyric Opera Orchestra for the 2018-2019 season, and she performs with some of Chicago’s finest ensembles, including the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Joffrey Ballet, Elgin Symphony, and Chicago Philharmonic. She is the String Area Coordinator, Co-director of the Chamber Music Program, and Violin Instructor at North Park University. Dr. Gauthier blogs about creating a meaningful practice at her website, Mind Over Finger, and hosts The Mind Over Finger podcast. The podcast offers discussions on mindful music-making, efficient practice, and building a purposeful career with the performers, pedagogues, and innovators who are shaping the classical music world today.

Website: www.mindoverfinger.com/

Ann Griffin
Cello

Wheaton, IL

Ann Griffin is a founding member of the Chicago Sinfonietta and in 1992 was appointed to the position of principal cello by Maestro Paul Freeman. She has performed in many of the great concert halls of Europe, including Frankfurt, Stuttgart, Cologne, Leipzig, Zurich, Basel, Geneva, Bonn, Vienna, and the Canary Islands, also performing on two tours to the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. Griffin completed her Bachelor of Music and Masters of Music in Cello Performance at Roosevelt University as a student of Karl Fruh.

Amanda Grimm
Viola

Chicago, IL

Amanda Grimm enjoys a versatile career as a freelance artist in the greater Chicago area. A graduate of the Oberlin Conservatory and Carnegie Mellon University, she has performed as a soloist, recitalist, and concertmaster in both the United States and abroad. Grimm is an active orchestral musician andis Principal Viola of both the Elgin Symphony and Orchestra Iowa and is Assistant Principal of the Illinois Philharmonic. A passionate chamber musician, she is also a member of the KAIA String Quartet, a Chicago-based ensemble that advocates for the music of Latin America.

Brian Groner
Symphony Conductor

Glenwood, IL

2019 marks Brian Groner’s 26th season as conductor of the Birch Creek Symphony Orchestra. This past season marked the end of his successful 23-year tenure with the Fox Valley Symphony in Appleton, WI. He is the Music Director of the Fox Valley Orchestra in Illinois and is the Artistic Director for the Midwest Mozart Festival. As a guest conductor, he has appeared on the podium for many notable ensembles including the Shenzhen Symphony (China), The San Diego Symphony, The Czech National Symphony Orchestra (Prague), and The Indianapolis Chamber Orchestra. Maestro Groner’s concerts have been broadcasted via satellite by National Public Radio in over 50 major cities across the United States. He has also conducted the world premiers of over twenty substantial new American compositions.. Website: http://www.briangroner.com/live/

Piero Guimaraes
Percussion

Associate Faculty, Providence, RI

Piero Guimaraes stands at the forefront of a new generation of international performers specializing in orchestral and contemporary music. A native of Brazil, Guimaraes presented the Brazilian premiere of several pivotal works by influential composers including Iannis Xenakis, Steve Reich and Peter Eotvos. He holds a Doctor of Musical Arts degree from Stony Brook University in New York. Guimaraes is on faculty at the Rhode Island Philharmonic School of Music and is a member of Iktus Percussion.

EmmaLee Holmes-Hicks
Violin

Associate Faculty, Providence, RI

Armed with a performance degree from the Cleveland Institute of Music and a doctorate from SUNY Stony Brook, EmmaLee Holmes-Hicks serves on the faculty at the University of Massachusetts-Dartmouth and as principal second violinist with the New Bedford Symphony. She co-directs Rhode Island’s Newport String Project, an innovative program that combines chamber music performance with music education for underserved children.

Matthew Lee
Trumpet

Elmhurst, IL

Matt Lee performs with the Illinois Philharmonic Orchestra, the Chicago Sinfonietta and the Chicago Brass Quintet. He teaches at DePaul University and Elmhurst College. Lee also performs with the Joffrey Ballet Orchestra and substitutes with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. This is his 25th year at Birch Creek.

Website: music.depaul.edu/FacultyAndStaff/L/mlee.asp

Betty Lewis
Violin

Wilmette, IL

Betty Lewis is a violinist and violist in the Chicago area, performing with groups ranging from the Chicago Symphony Orchestra to Broadway shows. Lewis is also a member of the Peninsula Music Festival Orchestra in Door County and teaches violin and viola at the Francis Parker School in Chicago. This is Lewis’ 26th year at Birch Creek.

Marcia Henry Liebenow
Violin

Peoria, IL

Marcia Henry Liebenow is Concertmaster of the Peoria Symphony Orchestra and Professor of Violin, Viola and Chamber Music at Bradley University. She leads a multi-faceted career as a recitalist, chamber musician, and soloist in Europe and the US. In addition to Birch Creek, she is a faculty artist at the Red Lodge Music Festival in Montana, and has performed and taught at festivals in Italy, Alaska, Vermont, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, and Nebraska. She is a founding member of the Concordia String Trio and Peoria Lunaire new music ensemble, and has released several CDs on the Centaur label. 2019 marks Ms. Henry Liebenow’s 21st year at Birch Creek.

Website: www.marciahenry.com

Dan O'Connell
French Horn

Naperville, IL

Mr. O’Connell is the horn instructor at North Central College, The Merit School of Music, and maintains a private studio. As a performer, he has played with most of the Chicago area’s great orchestras and ensembles. O’Connell received a BM from The New England Conservatory and an MM from DePaul University.

David Scholl
String Bass

Madison, WI

David Scholl currently serves as Principal Bass for the Madison, Quad City, and Dubuque Symphonies. Scholl is the instructor of double bass at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Having earned his BM and MM from Indiana University, he continued studies as principal bass of the Civic Orchestra of Chicago and at the Aspen Music Festival.

 

 

Charles Schuchat
Tuba

Chicago, IL

Charles Schuchat is a performer with the Elgin Symphony, Chicago Sinfonietta, Tower Brass and Joffrey Ballet. He is head of brass at the Chicago College of Performing Arts of Roosevelt University. This year will be Schuchat’s seventh year on the faculty at Birch Creek.

Faye Seeman
Harp

Palatine, IL

Ms. Seeman, principal harpist of the Chicago Sinfonietta and Joffrey Ballet orchestras, is adjunct professor of harp studies at Wheaton College, Northern Illinois University, College of DuPage and Northeastern Illinois University. 2019 marks Seeman’s 29th year as a Birch Creek faculty member.

Website: www.fayeseeman.com/about.html

Tom Stark
Trombone, Low Brass

Schaumburg, IL

Tom Stark performs with the Illinois Philharmonic Orchestra, New Philharmonic Orchestra, Northwest Indiana Symphony, and Elmhurst Symphony Orchestra.  Stark is also adjunct instructor at Concordia University, Elmhurst College, Wheaton College and Harper College. This is his 16th year at Birch Creek.

Alan Steiner
String Bass

(Symphony Week 1)
Buffalo Grove, IL

Alan Steiner is a former member of the Jerusalem Symphony Orchestra, L’Orchestre Symphonique de Quebec and the Canadian Opera Company. He was a soloist in the world premiere of Likht un Shotn with the Park Ridge Civic Orchestra. He maintains a private studio and teaches at A.E. Stevenson High School in Lincolnshire, IL. Steiner has been with Birch Creek for 19 seasons.

Jim Westhoff
Bassoon

Associate Faculty, Ann Arbor, MI

Mr. Westhoff holds degrees in music performance and theory/composition from the Peabody Conservatory and Wichita State University. He has held positions with the Annapolis, Wichita, and Kenosha Symphonies, as well as the Civic Orchestra of Chicago. Westhoff currently plays with the Jackson and Adrian Symphonies. As an educator, he teaches bassoon at Concordia University and the Plymouth-Canton, Saline, Chelsea, and Tecumseh school districts in southeast Michigan.

Website: www.jimwesthoff.com

Ricardo Castañeda
Symphony Program Director | Oboe
Jodie DeSalvo
Piano
Barbara Drapcho
Clarinet
Robert Everson
Percussion
Shannon Finney
Flute/Piccolo
John Gaudette
Bassoon
Renée-Paule Gauthier
Concertmaster
Ann Griffin
Cello
Amanda Grimm
Viola
Brian Groner
Symphony Conductor
Piero Guimaraes
Percussion
EmmaLee Holmes-Hicks
Violin
Matthew Lee
Trumpet
Betty Lewis
Violin
Marcia Henry Liebenow
Violin
Dan O'Connell
French Horn
David Scholl
String Bass
Charles Schuchat
Tuba
Faye Seeman
Harp
Tom Stark
Trombone, Low Brass
Alan Steiner
String Bass
Jim Westhoff
Bassoon

Faculty subject to change.

VIEW ALL SUMMER MUSIC ACADEMY FACULTY BIOS

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Symphony Concert Repertoire

Repertoire for 2020 will be listed here when available.
All repertoire is subject to change. Listed order is not necessarily performance order.