Western Springs drummer studies in Door County
Updated: August 27, 2012 10:21AM
WESTERN SPRINGS — Sean Thomas, a young musician from Western Springs, spent two weeks this summer studying percussion and steelpan at Birch Creek Music Performance Center in Door County, Wis. Thomas, a student at Lyons Township High School, studies percussion with Mark Dahl. He was among only 26 young musicians selected from throughout the country to attend the Percussion & Steel Band session at the prestigious school, whose unique mission is to provide intensive, performance-based instruction to promising young musicians age 13-18 by immersing them in a professional, mentoring environment.
Founded in 1976, Birch Creek features a student-faculty ratio of approximately two-to-one. This provides students with an abundance of personal attention from their faculty mentors, who represent top music educators and performers from around the country. Students are given the opportunity to hone their technical skills and learn firsthand about all aspects of the life of a professional musician. During their two-week residency this summer, students attending the Birch Creek Percussion session performed nine joint concerts with their teachers before paying concertgoers.
The director of the Birch Creek Percussion and Steel Band program is Robert Chappell, head of percussion studies at Northern Illinois University. The Steel Band Director is Al O’Connor, who is the founder of Birch Creek’s Steel Band program and a retired professor of music from Northern Illinois University, where he also founded the Percussion & Steel Band program. Birch Creek’s steelpan Artist-in-Residence is Liam Teague. Teague, a native of Trinidad and Tobago, has performed as a steelpan soloist throughout the world, and is on the faculty at NIU.