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St. Charles teen attends Birch Creek music program

Published: Friday, July 12, 2013 5:30 a.m. CDT
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(Photo provided)
Abigail Hughes of St. Charles recently participated in a two-week Birch Creek Music Performance Center program in Egg Harbor, Wis. Hughes, 18, has been playing the harp for five years and plans to study the instrument in college.

ST. CHARLES – St. Charles resident Abigail Hughes said she’s loved the sound of the harp since she was a little girl.

She got a chance to start playing the instrument about five years ago after finding a trade-in program that allowed her to try it for six months before buying it.

“I started taking lessons and I loved it,” she said. “I didn’t want to stop. I just continued with it.”

Hughes, 18, was selected as one of 51 young musicians across the country to participate in the symphony session at Birch Creek Music Performance Center in Door County, Wis., a highly selective program geared toward young musicians.

The two-week program concluded Saturday, and Hughes said it was a “wonderful experience.”

“It was fun experimenting with sounds,” she said. “When you think of the harp, you think of flowery music. But it can do so much more.”

Hughes, who was home-schooled, said she just finished her senior year and plans to take a short break before starting her college search. But when she attends college, she said there’s no doubt she’ll be studying the harp.

Cathy Knipfer, director of marketing and public relations for Birch Creek, said the two-week music program typically recruits young musicians between the ages of 13 and 19.

After completing a stringent audition process, musicians are able to attend the program and work to develop their technical skills. She said about 200 students are on campus throughout the summer, and about 100 faculty members teach.

Hughes said they practiced eight hours a day, sometimes more. She said she liked being immersed in an atmosphere surrounded by professional musicians and said teachers touched on musical structure, composition, ear training and site reading.

She said if she has the chance, she would participate in the program next year.

“My brain was stretched,” Hughes said. “They did a really good job of not stressing everyone out, but they did push it to the limit and challenge you.”

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