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By Russ Warren / Thursday, June 23, 2016 09:25 am
Midsummer’s Music Festival Goes Downton Style
EBM 2014 57

SISTER BAY, WI (June 23, 2016) – Door County’s Midsummer’s Music Festival is bringing music of the Downton Abbey period to three concerts that feature three English composers from the turn of the 20th Century. The pieces are ones that may have been played in places like Highclere Castle, the setting of the Downton Abbey PBS series.

Charles Villiers Stanford was one of two pillars of English music in the late nineteenth century who helped re-establish his country’s reputation as a source of compositional excellence. Fantasy No. 1 in G Minor is a serious, big-boned work; yet it has light, transparent textures.

Ralph Vaughan Williams’ Piano Quintet in C Minor dates from 1903, but that is just the beginning of its odyssey. Vaughan Williams not only rewrote the quintet in 1904, but he had another go at it again in 1905. It was performed as late as 1918, but then it disappeared from the concert stage until 1999 when it was revived at the Royal College of Music in London.

The Piano Quintet in A Minor, Op. 84, by Edward Elgar – the other pillar of English music – is big chamber music that was influenced by the quiet and peaceful surroundings in Sussex, England. It comes from the middle of his creative period and is one of three works written in a flurry of chamber music activity in 1918. The others are the Sonata for Violin and Piano, Op. 82, and the String Quartet in E Minor, Op. 83. The Piano Quintet is the largest in scope of the three works.

The first of the three concerts will be at 7:00 pm July 1 at the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship in Ephraim with a “Downton Abbey Affair” theme, where attendees are invited to dress in their finest Edwardian, World War I, and Roaring Twenties outfits. Costumes are optional. Concertgoers are invited to a pre-concert open house at the Hillside Inn of Ephraim from 4:30 to 6:30, where Diane Taillon’s collection of Downton Abbey memorabilia will be on display. Diane is the Arbor Crowne Properties owner/broker and new owner of the Hillside Inn. Two restored 1920s cars will be on display – one at the Hillside Inn and one at the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship, compliments of Dr. Mike McCutcheon and Frank Heidler, respectively. Nick Freimuth of DoorCountyDailyNews.com will air a live broadcast in the UUF parking lot prior to the concert.

The concert will play again on at 7:00 pm July 2 at Bjorklunden in Baileys Harbor and at 7:00 pm July 5 at St. Luke’s Episcopal Church in Sister Bay. Receptions with wine and hors d’oeuvres follow all three concerts, where attendees can mix and mingle with new and old friends, as well as the musicians. 

Tickets for all three performances are $29 for adults and $10 for students. Youth 12 and under are free.

The entire concert season includes nine unique programs in 33 concerts spanning a seven-week period. As is Midsummer’s tradition, programming aims to incorporate a mix of well-known composers alongside others who are less familiar but justifiably worth knowing for an unforgettable, thoroughly enjoyable experience. 

Midsummer’s Music Festival was co-founded in 1990 by Jim and Jean Berkenstock, long-time Door County summer residents and principal orchestral players with the Lyric Opera of Chicago. The Festival has drawn on the extraordinary talent of professional musicians and artist/faculty of universities throughout the Midwest.

Offering chamber music for winds, strings, and piano performed in intimate and unique settings throughout Door County, venues include art galleries, churches, and private homes. From the masters such as Mozart, Schubert, and Dvořák to some lesser-known but very accomplished composers, each concert is an unforgettable musical experience.

The 2016 season runs June 17 – July 23 and August 23 – September 5.

10568 Country Walk Ln , Sister Bay, WI
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