Elizabeth Pitcairn Brings Star Power to Luzerne
Elizabeth Pitcairn is a world class violin soloist and a summer camp director. That’s not as discordant a combination of vocations as it may sound, since the summer camp is the Luzerne Music Center, where members of the Philadelphia Orchestra teach the campers and where one of upstate New York’s finest classical music festivals takes place every year.
A camper herself at Luzerne for two summers in the late 1980s, Pitcairn was named Artistic Director in 2011 and President and CEO earlier this year.
“The two careers fit together nicely,” said Pitcairn. “My solo career takes me around the world, but I’m always promoting the Luzerne Music Center. People everywhere have heard of it and appreciate it. If you look at the people who have taught here and performed here over the past thirty-two years, you’ll find it staggering.”
Conversely, Pitcairn said, “When I’m on tour, I’m making contacts with musicians who I hope will become involved with the Luzerne Music Center.”
Pitcairn will return to the Adirondacks next June to oversee the camp, its campers and weekly concert series.
She’ll also be a visible presence on Lake George, where her great-uncle, Harold Pitcairn, purchased Cooper Point (known today as Green Harbor) in 1934 and where Pitcairns summered for decades.
Several benefits organized by the newly-organized
Friends of the Luzerne Music Center will be held, including some where Pitcairn will introduce a screening of “The Red Violin.” That 1998 film was reportedly inspired by her own violin, a 1720 Stradivarius that disappeared for approximately 200 years.
“The benefits provide an opportunity to introduce the Luzerne Music Center to a new audience,” said Pitcairn.
“However well-known the Luzerne Music Center is in the world of classical music, in the Adirondacks, we’re a hidden gem,” said Pitcairn. “We’re trying to bring more attention to it.”
As head of the Luzerne Music Center, “I’m focused on education; it’s all about the students,” said Pitcairn.
She knows from her own years as a camper how valuable the Luzerne experience can be.
“The camp is a low-pressure, non-competitive, warm environment where everyone is encouraged to fulfill their potential. You can accomplish a year’s worth of work in one two-week session,” said Pitcairn.
But as the Luzerne Music Center’s President and CEO, Pitcairn is not only responsible for the students’ education; she must also ensure that the facilities are equal to the needs of the students and faculty.
“This is a hundred-year-old camp for boys, which Bert Phillips and Toby Blumenthal bought from the Catholic Archdiocese of Albany in 1980,” said Pitcairn. “It’s a dated facility.”
Pitcairn has announced that the Luzerne Music Center’s Board of Directors is in the process of planning a capital campaign.
“I’d like to see us with first class facilities,” said Pitcairn. “We need a new performing arts center, a new dining hall and proper housing for faculty.”
Pitcairn acknowledges that she has a lot of fund raising to do within the next few years.
In the mean time, she has a music center to run.