Costa Rica Represented in Birch Creek’s Percussion & Steel Band Session

Each summer, approximately 200 advanced young musicians from around the country travel to Door County to attend a summer study session at Birch Creek.

The Birch Creek Steel Band performs for an audience in the Dutton Concert Barn

Although international students have attended Birch Creek in the past, it is still rare and exciting to host a student from a different country and culture altogether and to share musical and life experiences with one another.

Luis Eladio Herrera-Albertazzi, a 17-year-old student percussionist from San José, Costa Rica, will be attending Birch Creek’s Percussion & Steel Band session this summer. Luis is like many American kids. He enjoys sports, (especially soccer), loves playing his favorite instrument, the marimba, and is a member of San José’s youth symphony, Orquesta Sinfónica Juvenil de Costa Rica.

One question that is always asked of Birch Creek students is how they found out about Birch Creek, to which many reply, “I heard about it from my private teacher,” or band director. Luis’ answer is no different. Birch Creek Percussion & Steel Band program director Robert Chappell attends percussion festivals throughout the year in several countries, most recently in Costa Rica. Chappell met Luis while in Costa Rica, spoke with him about Birch Creek, and Luis decided to attend because he thinks it is a wonderful opportunity to gain musical knowledge and to experiment with new learning methods. This will be Luis’ first time in the United States.

Due to his numerous experiences drumming with people of different cultures, Chappell understands the importance of cultural diversity, unconditional acceptance, and what he calls “rhythmic union.”

“Anyone can relate to rhythm and get into it even if they don’t understand [the music’s technicalities],” says Chappell in a recent interview. This concept is one key aspect of the Percussion & Steel Band curriculum at Birch Creek.

Additionally, Birch Creek steelpan Artist-in-Residence Liam Teague will be on campus for the first week of the Percussion & Steel Band session and will be featured in concerts July 7 through July 9. Now in his 16th season, Teague brings cultural awareness and inspiration from his home country, Trinidad, to the faculty and students at Birch Creek each summer.

Chappell, Teague, Luis, and all of the other faculty members and students can be heard in Percussion & Steel Band concerts beginning Thursday, July 7 with a concert entitled “United in Rhythm.” An original composition by Chappell called “Unidos en Ritmo,” (United in Rhythm), will be performed at the July 7 concert. July 8’s concert, “Steel on Wheels,” will include steelpan music and a tropical shirt theme, where audience members are encouraged to wear a tropical or brightly-colored shirt that evening. Hot music from the Caribbean will be featured on the July 9 concert, “Fire Down Below.” The floor will be open for salsa dancing during the July 9 concert as well. Percussion & Steel Band concerts run through July 16.

Birch Creek Music Performance Center, Door County’s unique concert venue, is located at 3821 Cty Hwy E, Egg Harbor. All concerts begin at 8:00 p.m. with pre-concert music beginning at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $29 for adults, $10 for young adults age 12-20 and college students, and $6 for children 11 and under. For complete information or to reserve tickets, call 920.868.3763. Also check for additional information.

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