Sister Bay, Wis. (February 21, 2022) – Midsummer’s Music’s resident string quartet, the Griffon String Quartet, received a generous grant from Project: Music Heals Us for 2022 to support its work with marginalized residents in Door County. The award targets those who may not have access to live performances due to their home life, health care needs, economic needs, or physical location. Midsummer’s Music is fortunate to have partnered several times in the past with the Good Samaritan Society’s Scandia Village in Sister Bay. Drawing from the quartet’s B Double Sharp program—where the ensemble presents miniconcerts for the aging or disabled, as well as their caregivers—the Griffon is adapting for this new outreach opportunity. The quartet plans to add additional partners as the concerts progress throughout the year.
Griffon presentations for Scandia Village patients are conducted virtually, allowing for a 2-way video that provides the musicians and viewers the opportunity to interact. Beginning in January, the weekly concerts—featuring a solo musician and, so far, up to eight residents—range from 30 to 90 minutes. The musicians have reported positive results, with violist Blakeley Menghini commenting that, during the second concert, a patient experiencing weather-related pains said how much the music brightened and improved her day. Patients clapped, sung, and smiled during the performances.
Midsummer’s Music Executive Director Allyson Fleck said, “The Griffon’s mission is ‘Captivating every generation, bringing music to our complete community, and to educate, enrich, and excite.’ So, this exemplifies our mission that it’s every generation. Yes, we do focus on the young, but we also focus on our seniors. Music is important at any stage of life, and we’re finding that Covid makes it hard in our rural communities for patients to experience art and culture one-on-one. On the first day, a Scandia program director was so enthralled that she told violinist Vini that the miniconcerts will change the residents’ lives.”
Fleck added, “The caregivers are excited, because it inspires them with a new, fresh idea concept that gives their clients time not to think about their medicine or their doctor. The patients are engaged, and they are talking to our quartet members, who say to themselves that they’re having a wonderful time. The Griffon musicians are young professionals, and here they are working with seniors, and that connection brings the best to both generations. Studies show that music is not only the first ‘latch-on’ in our lives, but it’s also one of the last. Music is a very cognitive, functional way to communicate, so when somebody’s language is no longer there, they can still sing a tune or hum it. Research says this is exactly the right approach not only for seniors but also for shut-ins.”
Project: Music Heals Us is a nonprofit organization that exists to provide encouragement, education, and healing through bringing high-quality live music performances and interactive programming to marginalized communities with limited ability to access it themselves—with a focus on the elderly, disabled, rehabilitating, incarcerated, and homeless populations. Now in its eighth season, Project: Music Heals Us has presented over 1,000 free concerts and workshops in hospitals, nursing homes, hospice centers, retirement homes, food pantries, centers for individuals with disabilities, correctional facilities, homeless shelters and refugee centers.
One of the most vibrant and engaging quartets of their generation, the Griffon String Quartet was formed in the fall of 2018 as a collaboration led by Midsummer’s Music. The quartet is a groundbreaking project to enrich the lives of children and adults throughout Northeast Wisconsin through concerts, workshops, and music education outreach. Members of the Quartet include violinists Ji-Yeon Lee and Vinicius Sant’Ana, violist Blakeley Menghini, and cellist Ryan Louie. Extraordinary musicians who have performed with orchestras and ensembles around the globe in the finest halls from Carnegie Hall and Brazil’s Teatro Municipal de São Paulo to Ukraine’s Lviv Philharmonic Hall, and won prestigious music competitions and awards, they are equally dedicated to music education and inspiring the next generation of music lovers. Each member of the Griffon String Quartet has advanced degrees and significant professional experience, both as educators and performers, and the ensemble has been recognized for “their youthful vigor, which is absolutely infectious!”
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.