Lubec summer music camp garners state tourism award

Posted Feb. 20, 2009, at 8:20 p.m.

LUBEC, Maine — The founder of an adult music camp held here each summer was honored by the Maine Office of Tourism and the Maine Tourism Commission earlier this month.

Bruce Potterton, founder of SummerKeys, which promotes classical and jazz music, received the Commitment to Innovation and Creativity Award at the Governor’s Conference on Tourism dinner held Feb. 10 at the Marriott Sable Oaks in South Portland.

“The Commitment to Innovation and Creativity Award was given during the ceremony honoring those in the tourism industry who lead by example and demonstrate commitment to Maine as a world-class tourist destination,” the Maine Tourism Commission said in a press release.

Powered by a dream and some good luck, Potterton, who winters in New York, opened the doors at his summer house to his program in the summer of 1992 with 50 students and three pianos. Now there are five houses, 17 pianos and 18 practice rooms.

Since then, musicians from all over the world have summered in this idyllic seaside community to study their art and absorb the beauty of their surroundings. The program has expanded to offer a variety of weeklong courses that attract beginner students and professional musicians from across the country and beyond. There are lessons in cello, violin, guitar and flute, as well as voice.

“Up to 250 students arrive in Lubec each summer between June and the first week of September. Bed-and-breakfasts have opened to help accommodate the steady flow of visitors, local restaurants have enjoyed their business, and a summer-resident artist was even inspired to begin a ‘Summer Brushes’ art program,” Pat Eltman, director of the Maine Office of Tourism, said in the release.

Town Administrator Maureen Glidden said Friday that Potterton and his adult summer music camp are a great asset to the town.

“It brings a diverse crowd of people here, for one thing,” she said. “He provides a lot of money in the economy with accommodations, and they eat out.”

In addition, Potterton holds free concerts each week with a diverse group of musicians and music.

The Mary Potterton Memorial Piano Concerts are dedicated to the memory of his mother, who helped him start the project. Faculty members of SummerKeys as well as Potterton’s colleagues from New York perform in the concerts, which are free to the public. The performances are usually given to standing-room-only crowds.

The bonus for people at the town office, Glidden said, is listening to rehearsals. Artists stay in a nearby house.

A tradition at the town office is for the staff to have lunch together every Thursday, she said. “One Thursday afternoon it was really nice outside and we had the [town office] door open, and this fellow was standing on the front porch of this house over here practicing on his violin. So when he got done we all started clapping and he was bowing to us,” she said with a laugh. They asked for an encore.

Five awards were presented at the dinner to: the SummerKeys program for commitment to innovation and creativity; Maine Port Authority’s CruiseMaineUSA for commitment to tourism growth; the Bayview of Bar Harbor for commitment to customer service; the American Folk Festival of Bangor for commitment to commu-nity; and the Convention and Visitors Bureau of Greater Portland received the Governor’s Award for Tourism Excellence.

The Governor’s Conference on Tourism is an opportunity for Maine’s tourism industry to gather for professional development and to recognize those whose service and dedication are commendable.

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