German, African American, and modern-day composers on one program!
Sister Bay, Wis. – July 1, 2021 – Midsummer’s Music, whose concerts are called “exciting, pulse-pounding, and riveting,” is actively committed to accessibility and intentional inclusivity in all aspects of its work and performances. The upcoming Kreutzer Connotations program exemplifies this part of the organization’s official mission statement by presenting pieces by a famous German composer, a highly successful African American composer, and a thriving, modern-day composer from New York.
Ludwig van Beethoven, the program’s German composer, faced a major turning point in 1802 and 1803, which was a topic of Midsummer’s Creative Crisis program earlier in July. He wrote his Violin Sonata, Op. 30, No. 1, in 1801 and 1802 but then shelved it briefly before deciding to give it its rightful place as the finale of a commanding piece. Originally written for his friend, violinist George Bridgetower, who first performed it, Beethoven re-dedicated the composition to one of the most famous violinists of the time, Rudolphe Kreutzer, after Beethoven and Bridgetower had a falling-out. Kreutzer did not like Beethoven’s music and never played the piece, but the Kreutzer Sonata in A Major has become one of the most famous violin sonatas ever written.
William Grant Still, the program’s African American composer, lived from the late 19th century to 1978 and was deemed by the Library of Congress to be the “Dean of Afro-American Composers.” Still paved the way for subsequent generations of fellow composers of color. He was the first African American composer to have a symphony performed by a major symphony orchestra, the Rochester Symphony, followed by the New York Philharmonic at Carnegie Hall. His Danzas de Panama from 1948 draws on the rich heritage of Central American traditions, including a movement based on a Tamborito, a Panamanian dance dating back at least to the 17th century.
Following four splendid and productive years with Jacob Beranek serving as Midsummer’s first Composer-in-Residence, New York-based Will Healy – the program’s thriving, modern-day composer – was selected in an intense competition as Midsummer’s 2021 Composer-in-Residence. As a part of the Kreutzer Connotations program, Midsummer’s Music will perform the world premiere of Healy’s Transit. Transit is the result of Healy’s near-total isolation due to the COVID-19 pandemic and his observation in July 2020 of the International Space Station flying over his parents’ house in New Jersey, a sight he describes as, “… stunning … a bright, shining dot appearing out of the darkness, zooming from one end of the horizon to the other in under a minute.” He and his family watched a livestream of the astronauts on the space station and could see on camera the outline of the east coast, where he was watching from the ground. After six months of pandemic confinement, he was moved by the beauty of the moment and felt in communion with all those who had looked up in wonder at the sky that night.
Mikaela Bennet, an internationally renowned Canadian soprano, will be featured in Healy’s Transit. In researching text for Transit, he came across celestial poetry by Sara Teasdale that evoked some of the wonder, loneliness, and comfort he felt in the moment last July. “Given the opportunity to write for Mikaela Bennet, a singer with a voice that sounds as if it were delivered directly from the heavens,” Healy added that Teasdale’s night poems were the perfect medium for his piece.
The thread of connotations weaving through this program link Beethoven’s life and struggles, Still’s challenges as an early African American composer, and Healy’s state of mind during pandemic confinement. Midsummer’s Music excels at presenting well-known composers alongside lesser-known composers, and this program promises to be thrilling, thought-provoking, and moving.
The program plays July 9 at 7:00pm at the Kress Pavilion in Egg Harbor; July 10 at 7:00pm at the Old Gibraltar Town Hall in Fish Creek; and July 11 at 4:00pm at Woodwalk Gallery in Egg Harbor. In addition to Ms. Bennett, musicians include David Perry and Ann Palen, violins, Allyson Fleck, viola, and Ryan Louie and James Waldo, cellos.
Coffee Talks – free, informal presentations on music topics by Midsummer’s Music musicians and friends – continue with Will Healy speaking at the Kress Pavilion in Egg Harbor at 10:00am on July 10 and 2021 Composer-in-Residence Fellow Paul Frucht presenting Writing Music for Our Time at SWY231 in Sturgeon Bay at 10:00am on July 17.
Reservations for all concerts and Coffee Talks must be made in advance. Before making plans or purchasing tickets, concertgoers should review Midsummer’s COVID-19 policy at midsummersmusic.com.
Tickets for all concerts are $30 for adults and can be ordered at www.midsummersmusic.com or by phone at 920-854-7088. Call the office for youth ticket prices. All programs are subject to change.
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. What began as two concerts among friends has become one of the Midwest’s most anticipated chamber music series, bringing thousands of chamber music enthusiasts from around the globe to the magical Door County Peninsula and reaching thousands more each year through virtual programming.