Door County’s Midsummer’s Music continues its emphasis on radically appealing concerts for the 2017 Festival season, with exciting opportunities to experience powerful music in unique settings throughout the county.
Midsummer’s Music is once again collaborating with poets from Write On, Door County to write poems for 10 concerts. The partnership proved to be incredibly popular in the 2016 Festival, and those who attended the Labor Day Benefit received a limited-edition booklet of the poems. The poets base their inspiration on music being performed during the concerts.
At the four concerts at Woodwalk Gallery in Egg Harbor, owners Jillaine and Andrew invite attendees to bring a picnic and arrive at the gallery starting at 5:00 pm. For two hours, people can enjoy their food and relax with new and old friends while exploring the gallery and beautifully landscaped gardens. At the beginning of each concert, a Woodwalk artist will introduce a piece that was created specifically for the concert, based on music being performed that night.
The entire Festival season includes nine unique programs in 34 concerts spanning a seven-week period. As is the Midsummer’s Music tradition, programming incorporates a mix of well-known composers alongside others who are less familiar for an unforgettable, thoroughly enjoyable experience. Receptions, often with wine and hors d’oeuvres, follow most concerts, where attendees can mix and mingle with new and old friends, as well as the musicians.
The German Spirit program features pieces by Anton Eberl, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, and Joachim Raff. Eberl’s Quintet in G Minor, Op. 41, takes its impetus from Mozart’s Piano Quartet, K. 478. Mozart wrote, “I myself consider it the best thing I have written in my life” of his Quintet in E-Flat Major, K. 614. Quartet in G Major, Op. 202, No. 1, is considered Raff’s penultimate piece of chamber music. Midsummer’s Music begins its 2017 Festival with this program at the Opening Night Gala at Birch Creek on June 16. Special guests that evening include former Lieutenant Governor and long-time Midsummer’s Music fan Barbara Lawton. The concert can be heard also at the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship on June 18, St. Luke’s Episcopal Church on June 21, and Prince of Peace Church on June 23.
The second program, entitled From the Heart, focuses on classical masters Wilhelm Braun, Ernst Naumann, and Antonín Dvořák. Braun, who composed Adagio for oboe and string quartet, studied oboe under his father, Johann Friedrich Braun, and became a member of the Berlin court orchestra at the age of 13. Serenade in A Major, Op. 10, is by Naumann, who is best known now as an arranger and editor of the music of J.S. Bach, Mozart and Mendelssohn. Sextet in A Minor, Op. 94, is the first of four Dvořák pieces being performed by Midsummer’s Music this season. The concerts for this program play June 24 at Sister Bay Moravian Church, June 25 at Woodwalk Gallery, June 27 at Fish Creek’s Old Gibraltar Town Hall, and June 28 at Björklunden.
The Indomitable Spirits program comprises three female composers who lived between 1804 and 1944. Melanie “Mel” Bonis, who wrote Suite in E Minor, Op. 59, was a prolific French classical composer. She wrote more than 300 compositions, including works for piano solo and four hands, organ pieces, chamber music, mélodies, choral music, a mass, and works for orchestra. The combination of instruments – flute, oboe, clarinet, bassoon, horn, and piano – in Louise Farrenc’s Sextet in C Minor, Op. 40, had never been done when she composed the piece in 1851-2. Amy Cheney Beach wrote Quintet in C Minor, Op. 52. A child prodigy, she began composing music at age four and performing publicly at age seven. The program begins June 30 at the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship and continues July 1 at Björklunden, July 7 at St. Luke’s Episcopal Church, and July 8 at a matinee performance at The Clearing Folk School.
Midsummer’s Music explores unusual instrumentation in the Ethereal Sounds program. Antonín Dvořák’s Bagatelles, Op. 47, includes the unique tones of a harmonium with two violins and cello. Adagio and Rondo in C Major, K. 617, by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart unites the sound of a glass harmonica with flute, oboe, viola and cello. Rounding out the program are Antonín Dvořák’s String Quartet in F Minor, Op. 9, and Michael Haydn’s Quartet in D Major, P.11, for English horn, violin, cello, and double bass. The Ethereal Sounds concerts are July 2 at Woodwalk Gallery, July 5 at Björklunden, July 9 at a salon/home concert in Sturgeon Bay, and July 17 at a dinner concert at the Fireside Restaurant in Ellison Bay.
The fifth program of the 2017 Festival is Danish, Russian, French Airs and includes pieces by Johan Amberg, Camille Saint-Saëns, and Gabriel Fauré. Amberg’s Suite dates from 1905 and is a very appealing work in three movements for flute, oboe, clarinet, and piano. Caprice on Danish and Russian Airs, Op. 79, by Saint-Saëns is the unlikely pairing of national sources resulting from the marriage of the Czar of Russia to a Danish princess. Despite its key, Fauré’s Quartet in C Minor, Op. 15, which he composed from 1876 to 1879, is full of warmth and optimism. He re-wrote the finale movement in 1883. The program plays four times: July 12 at Prince of Peace Church, July 14 at the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship, July 15 at Björklunden, and July 18 at a salon/home concert in Sister Bay. The July 14 concert is a Bastille Day celebration in honor of the two French composers in this program.
The Dangerous Waters program includes four pieces that either directly – through the composition name – or indirectly – through undulating movements – evoke thoughts and emotions related to rolling seas. Wisconsin native Jacob Beranek, Midsummer’s first composer-in-residence, wrote Death’s Door for the 2017 Festival. Named for the passage between Gills Rock and Washington Island, instrumentation is clarinet, horn, violin, cello, and piano. Island Suite is a combination of string quartet and trio from American composer Arthur Foote and eccentric Norwegian violinist Ole Bull. Franz Schrecker’s Der Wind was written in 1908-9 and was put aside. In 1958, Austrian musicologist Gösta Neuwirth rediscovered the piece in the cellars of a publishing house, and it finally received its first performance in 1980. Quartet in G Minor, Op. 25, by Johannes Brahms is representative of changes to chamber music as the genre transitioned from private homes to concert halls and is considered symphonic, compared to earlier chamber music. The first two concerts are July 19 at Woodwalk Gallery and July 22 at the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship. Those wishing to experience the Death’s Door passage may join Midsummer’s Music on an Alexander’s-catered voyage aboard the Island Clipper on July 23 for an early evening concert at Trueblood Performing Arts Center on Washington Island.
Composer-in-residence Jacob Beranek returns for The Czech Spirit program, with Sempre nella luce, a piece that was recently selected as a winner of the Dolce Suonno Ensemble’s Young Composers contest. Widely regarded in his homeland as the father of Czech music, Bedrich Smetana composed Trio in G Minor, Op. 15, for violin, cello, and piano as a tribute to his daughter who died of scarlet fever at the age of four. The third Antonín Dvořák piece of the 2017 Festival is Trio in B-Flat Minor, Op. 21, a piece that is often overlooked, yet it clearly demonstrates his gifts for lyricism, color and vivid contrast within a fresh, natural style. The Czech Spirit concerts are July 20 at a salon/home concert in Fish Creek, and during the Labor Day series of concerts on August 25 at the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship, and August 26 at Björklunden.
The season continues with the Northern Strings program, with three northern European composers. The Sextet in E-Flat Major is by Niels Gade, who was born in Copenhagen and became the director of the Leipzig Conservatory and conductor of the Leipzig Gewandhaus orchestra. Czech composer Antonín Dvořák’s Terzetto in C Major, Op. 74, was completed in only one week in January 1887 and was intended to be a Hausmusik piece for him to play with a couple of friends. What will certainly be a thrill for audiences is Norwegian Johan Svendsen’s Octet in A Major, Op. 3, for four violins, two violas, and two cellos, which was awarded the Leipzig Conservatory’s first prize in composition in 1866. The Northern Strings program will be performed five times: August 27 at Woodwalk Gallery, August 28 at a salon/home concert in Fish Creek, August 29 at the Old Gibraltar Town Hall, August 30 at Björklunden, and September 3 at Prince of Peace Church.
The final program of the 2017 season is Eastern European Passion. Sergei Sergeyevich Prokofiev, a Russian composer who emerged as one of the truly original musical voices of the twentieth century, wrote Quintet in G Minor, Op. 39, which is closely related to his ballet, Trapèze. The Quartet in D Minor, Op. 11, was composed by Pyotr Illyich Tchaikovsky specifically for a very successful concert he did to supplement his income from the Moscow Conservatory. Although most of Juliusz Zarebski’s works were for piano, his Quintet in G Minor, Op. 34, for piano and strings is considered one of his very best and most important pieces. See this concert August 31 at Birch Creek, September 2 at The Clearing Folk School, and September 4 at Gordon Lodge as part of a joint fundraiser with Door Shakespeare.
Most concerts are $29 for adults, $10 for students, and children 12 and under are free. Premium prices apply toward salon/home concerts, dinner concerts and other special events. Subscriptions consisting of four concert tickets and flex-packs of six or eight tickets are available. Tickets, subscriptions and flex-packs can be ordered online at midsummersmusic.com or by phone at 920.854.7088.
Midsummer’s Music 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 such masters as Mozart, Schubert, and Dvořák to some lesser-known but very accomplished composers, each concert is an unforgettable musical experience.