Birch Creek Symphony

Registration for the 2023 Symphony Session opens December 1, 2022.

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 develop excellent practice habits, rehearsal skills and progress at an amazing rate. Seven public performances of four different orchestral programs are given over the two-week session.

Please note: Birch Creek will be following CDC and local public health guidelines at the time of programming. Programs are subject to change. Students must be fully vaccinated (as described by the CDC) at the start of the session. A negative test is required within 48 hours of arrival. This website will provide current updates so please check the COVID-19 page for the latest news.

Symphony Academy Session

July 2 – July 15, 2023 | Tuition: $2,300

A two-week session for students entering grade seven through graduating grade 12.

Need-based and merit scholarships are available.

Areas of Study

Repertoire Standard orchestral literature is rehearsed and performed during the two-week session. Past repertoire includes 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” and Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky’s Romeo and Juliet Suite. 2022 repertoire will be posted on the Birch Creek website when confirmed. Please review application instructions for suggested audition repertoire levels.

Orchestra Rehearsals Two to four hours daily depending on performance schedule and repertoire.

Sectionals One hour of rehearsal by section every day. Students work with experienced faculty preparing the repertoire for general rehearsals.

Chamber Ensembles One hour every day. Students read and rehearse chamber music under the guidance of a coach. The product of these chamber music rehearsals is performed during Prelude Concert (before the Orchestra Concert) and during intermission.

Techniques One hour every day. Classes of like instruments meet once a day for instruction on instrument specific technical and musical aspects.

Seminars Two or three seminars, on topics pertinent to the music profession, are presented to the students every summer. Past topics included preparing for auditions, careers in music and avoiding injuries.

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Symphony Concert Repertoire

Dvořák, “Festival March, Op. 54” Saint-Saëns, “Introduction and Rondo Capriccioso, Op. 28” Lalo, “Symphonie espagnole in D minor, Op. 21” Schumann, “Symphony No. 1 in B-flat major, Op. 38” Weber, “Der Freischütz Overture, Op. 77” Grieg, “Holberg Suite, Op. 40” Sibelius, “Symphony No. 1 in E minor, Op. 39”

Puccini, “Preludio Sinfonico in A major, SC 32” Tchaikovsky, “Swan Lake Ballet, Op. 20” Rachmaninov, “Piano Concerto No. 2 in C minor, Op. 18Wagner, “Tannhäuser Overture” Bruch, “Romanze for Viola, Op. 85” Mahler, “Symphony No. 1 in D major” Larsen, “De Trois”

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.

Symphony Faculty

Subject to change

Ricardo Castañeda
Symphony Program Director | Oboe & Chamber Music Retreat Program Director

Oak Park, IL

2022 marks Ricardo Castañeda’s 25th year at Birch Creek and his 22nd year as Symphony Session Program Director. Castañeda received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in music performance from Northwestern University. He is a winner of the Northwestern University Concerto Competition and a recipient of the Wade Fetzer award for excellence in performance. He has appeared as a soloist in Latin America, Europe, the United States and more recently Japan. Castañeda is currently Principal Oboist with The Chicago Sinfonietta, and solo English Horn with The Illinois Philharmonic Orchestra. He is also a member of the Chicago Ensemble and Barossa Woodwind Quintet. An active freelance musician, 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. Castañeda is on the faculty at University of Illinois at Chicago and Northeastern Illinois University. Ricardo is integral to the development and oversight of Symphony session programming.

Website: Chicago Sinfonietta – Ricardo Castañeda

Jeremy Attanaseo
String Bass

Elgin, IL

Jeremy Attanaseo is the assistant principal bass of the Elgin Symphony Orchestra. He performs often with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Lyric Opera of Chicago, and the Chicago Philharmonic Orchestra. He is also principal bass of International Chamber Artists, and previously principal bass of the Dubuque Symphony Orchestra, assistant principal bass of the Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra.

Jeremy teaches applied lessons and bass pedagogy at DePaul University and Northern Illinois University. He has taught bassists of all ages and levels for almost 25 years and enjoys helping students reach far beyond their goals.

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. 2022 marks her 26th year as a Birch Creek faculty member.

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 Chicago Sinfonietta, and the Joffrey Ballet Orchestra. He earned his Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Percussion Performance from DePaul University, and is the percussion instructor at Concordia University Chicago in River Forest, Illinois. 2022 is Everson’s 22nd year as a Birch Creek faculty member.

www.cuchicago.edu/faculty/college-of-theology-arts–humanities/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 18 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 at Chicago. John has been a Birch Creek faculty member for 16 years.

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 and is 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.

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

Providence, RI

EmmaLee Holmes-Hicks is a freelance musician and educator, passionate about chamber music, orchestral playing, traditional music and improvisation. Dr. Holmes-Hicks is on faculty at the University of Massachusetts at Dartmouth, serves as principal second violinist of the New Bedford Symphony Orchestra, is a member of the Cape Symphony and performs regularly on the South Coast Chamber series and with Verdant Vibes New Music Collective. This is Holmes-Hicks 18th year on the Birch Creek faculty.

Katherine Kohler
Clarinet

Nashville, TN

Katherine Kohler joined the Nashville Symphony Orchestra in the fall of 2018 as Assistant Principal and E-flat Clarinet. From 2016-2018 Katherine was the second clarinetist of the Phoenix Symphony, and previous to that she spent three years with the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra. She has also performed with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, the Florida Orchestra, and since 2011, the Santa Fe Opera Orchestra.

During the summer of 2015, Katherine participated in the Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival, performing under Alan Gilbert as a clarinetist on Mozart’s Gran Partita and E-flat clarinetist on Messiaen’s Des Canyons Aux Étoiles, the latter of which was released in 2016 on the Koch Label. As a chamber musician, Katherine has also performed with the Gateway Chamber Orchestra, Downtown Chamber Series, Chamber Music Milwaukee, and with the Roma Trio.

She started her orchestral training in the Chicago Youth Symphony Orchestra and the Encore Chamber Orchestra. At the age of seven, Katherine began her clarinet studies with David Boyd, followed by studies with Todd Levy from 2005-13. She graduated from the Peck School of the Arts, University of Wisconsin/Milwaukee. Katherine is a Selmer Artist, performing on Selmer Signature Clarinets.

Matthew Lee
Trumpet

Elmhurst, IL

Matthew Lee, trumpet, is an active freelance musician and teacher in the Chicago area. In addition to performing with the Chicago Sinfonietta, Mr. Lee is also Principal Trumpet of the Illinois Philharmonic Orchestra, a member of the Chicago Brass Quintet, the Millar Brass Ensemble and Tower Brass of Chicago. He is a regular substitute and extra musician with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and Lyric Opera of Chicago.

Holding a BA in Music Education from Western Illinois University and a MM degree in Trumpet Performance from Northwestern University, his primary teachers have included William DeJong, Vincent Cichowicz and Adolph Herseth. As a soloist, Mr. Lee was the winner of the Civic Orchestra of Chicago Concerto Competition and was a semi-finalist in both the Concert Artists Guild of New York City and Maurice Andre International Competition in Paris.

Mr. Lee is on the faculty of the Music Institute of Chicago. He is both a teacher and mentor for the Chicago Musical Pathways Initiative and the SEED program through Chicago Sinfonietta, serving musicians from traditionally underrepresented backgrounds. During the summer, for the past 28 years, Mr. Lee has served on the faculty of the Birch Creek Music Academy in Door County, WI.

He has performed on two Grammy Award-winning recordings with the Chicago Symphony, as well as a Billboard Magazine top classical crossover CD with the Millar Brass Ensemble. Other CDs include those with the Chicago Brass Quintet, Tower Brass of Chicago, the Elgin (IL) Symphony, Chicago Opera Theatre, Chicago Sinfonietta and Sones de Mexico.

Betty Lewis
Violin

Wilmette, IL

Betty Lewis received her B.M. from Chicago Musical College at Roosevelt University as a student of Elaine Skorodin. She is an active violinist and violist in the Chicago area performing with groups as diverse as Broadway in Chicago and as an extra with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. Lewis teaches violin, viola and piano and conducts the high school orchestra at Francis W. Parker School in Chicago. She is also the violin teacher at the Chicago School of Violin Making. In the summer, Lewis is a member of the Peninsula Music Festival, also in Door County, Wisconsin. 2022 is Lewis’ 28th year at Birch Creek.

Marcia Henry Liebenow
Concertmaster

Peoria, IL

Marcia Henry Liebenow is Concertmaster of the Peoria Symphony Orchestra and teaches violin, viola and chamber music at Bradley University. She leads a multi-faceted career as a teacher, recitalist, chamber musician, and soloist across the U.S. and abroad. She is a member of the Concordia String Trio and Peoria Lunaire, a new music ensemble. In the summer, in addition to Birch Creek, Marcia is a faculty artist at the Red Lodge Music Festival in Montana, and has performed and taught at festivals in Italy, Alaska, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, Nebraska, and Vermont. She has three CDs on the Centaur label – the Grieg Violin Sonatas with internationally acclaimed pianist Antonio Pompa-Baldi, and two Concordia String Trio CDs — American Vistas and Viennese String Trios. Her work has been recognized with the Outstanding Studio Teacher Award from Illinois ASTA, and she was named a Distinguished Alumni of Ohio University School of Music. Marcia earned degrees in Violin Performance from the New England Conservatory of Music and Ohio University. 2022 marks her 24th year at Birch Creek.

Website: www.marciahenry.com

Emily Mantell
Cello

Orland Park, IL

Emily Lewis Mantell is a busy freelance cellist in and around Chicago. She is a member of the Illinois Philharmonic Orchestra and the Chicago Sinfonietta. She teaches adjunctly at local colleges and from her home studio in Orland Park, IL. Mantell has been a Birch Creek faculty member for 27 years, and she is delighted that her daughter, Sonia, a Birch Creek alumna and now a cellist in the Minnesota Orchestra, will be returning as cello TA at Birch Creek this summer.

Taka Matsunaga
Symphony Guest Conductor

Elmhurst, IL

As the recipient of the 2021 Conductor of the Year granted by the Illinois Council of Orchestras as well as the third-place winner of the 2020 and 2021 American Prize in Orchestral Conducting, Taka Matsunaga is currently the Director of Orchestras and Assistant Professor of Music at Elmhurst University, where he conducts the University Orchestra. He is also a Founder and Music Director of the Midwest Philharmonic Orchestra in Schaumburg, IL. Matsunaga is also on the faculty at Birch Creek Music Performance Center in Door County Wisconsin, where he serves as a Symphony Guest Conductor. 

Matsunaga came to the United States in 1998 to pursue his violin studies with David Taylor, Joseph Golan and Robert Chen while attending Roosevelt University and Northeastern Illinois University, where he received his master’s degree in music. 

From 1999-2001, Matsunaga was a regular member of the Civic Orchestra of Chicago, a training orchestra of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. In March 2000, he performed at Carnegie Hall under the baton of Maestro Daniel Barenboim. While playing in the Civic Orchestra, Matsunaga has played with world-renowned conductors including Neeme Järvi, Christoph Eschenbach, Osmo Vänskä, Pierre Boulez and Pinchas Zukerman, to name just a few. He has also studied at the National Orchestral Institute at the University of Maryland. Matsunaga then went on to join the Illinois Symphony Orchestra, South Bend Symphony Orchestra and the Southwest Michigan Symphony Orchestra, where he served as an Acting Assistant Concertmaster. 

As a conductor, Matsunaga made his debut at Carnegie Hall in New York in 2018 with the Midwest Philharmonic Orchestra. He has conducted in Vienna, Salzburg, Detroit and at Orchestra Hall at Symphony Center in Chicago. Matsunaga presented his conducting workshop for young conductors at the Illinois Music Education Conference virtually in April 2021 and also in January 2022 in Peoria, Illinois. He is an active guest conductor and clinician for workshops and festivals throughout the country. 

Matsunaga is a member of the College Orchestra Directors Association (CODA), National Association for Music Education (NAfME), Illinois Music Education Association (ILMEA), and American String Teachers Association (ASTA). 

Dan O'Connell
French Horn

Chicago, IL

Dan O’Connell is the horn instructor at North Central College 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. 2022 is Dan’s eighth year on the Birch Creek Symphony faculty.

Charles Schuchat
Tuba

Chicago, IL

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

Faye Seeman
Harp

Palatine, IL

Faye 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. 2020 marks Seeman’s 30th year as a Birch Creek faculty member.

Website: www.fayeseeman.com/about.html

Alan Snow
Concertmaster

Alan Snow was appointed 2nd Associate Concertmaster of the Omaha Symphony in July of 2021. Since his performance with the Oistrakh Symphony Orchestra at age 13, Alan has performed solo and chamber works internationally, including appearances at Chicago’s Symphony Center, London Symphony Orchestra St. Luke’s, la Sala Manuel M. Ponce in Mexico City, and others. Previous concertmaster appointments include the Evansville Philharmonic, Columbus Indiana Philharmonic, Terre Haute Symphony Orchestra, Festival Napa Valley Music Academy, Britten-Pears Young Artists Program, Indiana University’s top orchestras, Carmel Symphony and Music Academy of the West. Alan has worked closely with esteemed concertmasters Glenn Dicterow, Alexander Kerr, and Jorja Fleezanis and has performed under the baton of conductors and leaders such as John Williams, Sir Simon Rattle, Joshua Bell, Nicholas McGegan, JoAnn Falletta, James Gaffigan, Edward Gardner, Stéphane Denève, and Gustavo Dudamel.

Alan has won several competitions as soloist and chamber musician, including being a semifinalist at Windsor Festival International Strings Competition, grand prizes at the Walgreens National Concerto Competition, the LAMC Recording Competition, the Saint Paul String Quartet Competition, the Discover Chamber Music Competition, second prize at the Rembrandt Chamber Players and honorable mention at the Fischoff National Chamber Music Competition. As a winner of the Keston MAX Fellowship, Alan played under Sir Simon Rattle and the London Symphony Orchestra in 2019. Previous chamber collaborations include performances with Rachel Barton-Pine, James Buswell, Martin Chalifour, Mindy Kaufman, Desmond Hoebig, Jorja Fleezanis, Robert Vernon, Steve Wyrczynski, and Eric Kim.

An avid chamber player, Alan studied closely under the Pacifica Quartet and the Takács Quartet and has recorded two chamber music albums, one as a member of the Chicago Panamerican Ensemble called, “Voices of Mexico’s Past and Present” and one with pianist, Joanne Chang called, “Dialogos.” Both albums explore the rich landscape of classical music in Mexico. Alan also served as First Violin of the Eykamp String Quartet from 2018-2021. This past 20-21 season, the Eykamp String Quartet spearheaded a series called, “Connect and Celebrate: New Traditions,” which featured over a dozen composers of color and women composers over the course of 9 recitals in Indiana. Additionally, Alan is an active chamber music coach and teacher, having served on faculty at the Anchorage Chamber Music Festival, the University of Evansville Music Department, and the Evansville Philharmonic Youth Orchestra.

Recent and upcoming solo engagements include performing Piazzolla’s Four Seasons and the Brahms Double Concerto as soloist with the Evansville Philharmonic Orchestra, performances at the New Harmony Music Festival, a radio broadcast on Chicago WFMT Radio, solo and chamber recitals at the University of Evansville, guest appearing at the Chicago Latin Music Festival, and performances at the Omaha Chamber Music Society and Anchorage Chamber Music Festival.

A Chicago native, Alan participated at Midwest Young Artists for nine years, where he received intensive orchestral and chamber music training. He studied with Gerardo Ribeiro at Northwestern University before receiving his Bachelor of Music degree from Indiana University under Sibbi Bernhardsson of the Pacifica Quartet and Alexander Kerr, concertmaster of the Dallas Symphony Orchestra. Alan was a student at Birch Creek in 2010 and a winner of Birch Creek’s concerto competition.

Tom Stark
Trombone, Low Brass

Schaumburg, IL

Tom Stark performs with the Illinois Philharmonic Orchestra and Northwest Indiana Symphony. Stark is also trombone instructor at Concordia University, Elmhurst University and Harper College. This is his 17th year at Birch Creek.

Jim Westhoff
Bassoon

Associate Faculty, Ann Arbor, MI

Jim 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, and the Civic Orchestra of Chicago. Jim currently plays with the Jackson and Adrian Symphonies, and teaches bassoon at Concordia University and the Plymouth-Canton, Saline, and Tecumseh school districts in southeast Michigan.

Website: www.jimwesthoff.com

Elizabeth York
Violin

Saint Paul, MN

Violinist Elizabeth York is Associate Concertmaster and Personnel Manager of South Dakota Symphony Orchestra, and performs on baroque violin with Lyra Baroque Orchestra. She teaches at the College of St. Benedict/St. John’s University and St. Cloud State University. York holds a Doctorate of Musical Arts in violin and viola performance from Stony Brook University in New York. 2021 is her eighth year at Birch Creek.

Ricardo Castañeda
Symphony Program Director | Oboe & Chamber Music Retreat Program Director
Jeremy Attanaseo
String Bass
Jodie DeSalvo
Piano
Robert Everson
Percussion
Shannon Finney
Flute/Piccolo
John Gaudette
Bassoon
Amanda Grimm
Viola
Piero Guimaraes
Percussion
EmmaLee Holmes-Hicks
Violin
Katherine Kohler
Clarinet
Matthew Lee
Trumpet
Betty Lewis
Violin
Marcia Henry Liebenow
Concertmaster
Emily Mantell
Cello
Taka Matsunaga
Symphony Guest Conductor
Dan O'Connell
French Horn
Charles Schuchat
Tuba
Faye Seeman
Harp
Alan Snow
Concertmaster
Tom Stark
Trombone, Low Brass
Jim Westhoff
Bassoon
Elizabeth York
Violin

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