This colorful concert combines music by two African American composers and a German master.
Sister Bay, Wis. (March 6, 2023) – Midsummer’s Music’s resident string quartet, the Griffon String Quartet, will perform two colorful March concerts featuring an intriguing combination of music by two contemporary composers of color alongside a piece by a German classical master.
During Midsummer’s 2020 virtual season, it first presented a piece by Florence Beatrice Price, who calls most explicitly on her African American background in gospel music, folk and work song, and the blues. Since then, the Griffon String Quartet has also performed works by Price. Price’s String Quartet in G Major is one of her most beloved pieces, and Midsummer’s enjoys introducing this incredible composer to new audiences.
Released in 1999, At the Octoroon Balls is Wynton Marsalis’ first string quartet. It is based on traditional Creole music that surrounded the composer while growing up in New Orleans. The octoroon balls were held for white Creole men to choose their Octoroon (one-eighth Black ancestry, with one Black great-grandparent) mistresses. Divided into seven movements, the piece includes fiddle reels, hoe downs, jug stomps, and marching bands—even a somber tone poem.
Felix Mendelssohn held the Quartet in D Major, Op. 44, No. 1, in high regard. Premiered in February 1839, it was the first of the three Opus 44 numbers to be published, but it was the last to be written. “I have just finished my Quartet in D,” he wrote to the violinist Ferdinand David, a close friend and concertmaster of the Gewandhaus Orchestra. “I like it very much. I hope it may please you as well. I rather think it will, since it is more spirited and seems to me likely to be more grateful to the players than the others.”
Concerts will be at 3:00pm, March 18, at the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship in Green Bay, and at 3:00pm, March 19, at the Donald & Carol Kress Pavilion in Egg Harbor. Admission is free to both concerts, and tickets can be reserved at midsummersmusic.com or by calling 920-854-7088. Donations will be accepted at the door. Griffon String Quartet musicians will be Roy Meyer, violin, Henry Zheng, violin, Erin Rafferty, viola, and Jesse Nummelin, cello.
Support comes from NEA Challenge America, the Bader Foundation, and the Wisconsin Arts Board.
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.