Sister Bay, Wis. (May 16, 2022) – On Sunday, May 29, at 3:00pm at the Donald & Carol Kress Pavilion in Egg Harbor, the Griffon String Quartet presents its inaugural gala, a public fundraiser to support the quartet’s important, ongoing mission of being actively embedded in the northeast Wisconsin community and engaging every generation through music. Program highlights feature the quartet playing Beethoven’s String Quartet No. 12 in E-flat Major, Op. 127, a piece that the musicians particularly enjoy. Several of the ensemble’s current students will be on hand to share their stories about how much the strings lessons program mean to their lives.
Fundraising items include lesson scholarships, instruments, music, private Griffon performances, concert sponsorships, Green Bay Chamber Music Society memberships, two autographed Griffon posters, and more! Jim & Jean Berkenstock are the Platinum Sponsor for the event, and NEW Music of Sturgeon Bay is the Gold Sponsor and media partner. Additional sponsorship opportunities are available.
Since 2018, the Griffon String Quartet, the resident string quartet of Midsummer’s Music, has industriously engaged with communities in northeast Wisconsin to provide essential educational outreach programs and music lessons for youth through its Einstein Series; vital mini concerts for seniors and people with Alzheimer’s and dementia and their caregivers through its B Double Sharp programming; and all-inclusive, community-embedded, family-centered programs to strengthen the area’s musical infrastructure. Much of the quartet’s work has generously been underwritten by private donations and grants, including funds from the Green Bay Packers Foundation and the Greater Green Bay Community Foundation.
The celebration includes a heartfelt farewell to the Griffon’s current professional musicians, Ji-Yeon Lee, violin, Vinicius Sant’Ana, violin, Blakeley Menghini, viola, and Ryan Louie, cello, who depart to take the next steps in their blossoming careers. As with all musical ensembles – from quartets to symphonies – staffing changes are inevitable, and this is not the first time the Griffon String Quartet has changed. Midsummer’s Music is especially grateful for Vini, Blakeley, and Ryan, three of the original quartet musicians who were instrumental in launching the program – and inventively keeping it going with virtual programs during lockdown stages of the pandemic – as well as Ji-Yeon, who came on board in 2021 to replace violinist Roy Meyer after he resigned to pursue new opportunities.
Cellist James Waldo and violinist Maynie Bradley are the first of the new musicians to be named to the Griffon String Quartet. James is a familiar face to Midsummer’s Music audiences, having played during the summer concert series seasons since 2018. He is an adjunct instructor of cello for the University of Wisconsin–Madison, where he recently completed his Doctor of Musical Arts Degree. In addition to Midsummer’s Music, James performs with the LunART Festival, the Madison New Music Festival, and the Edgewood College Chamber Orchestra, where he was guest soloist this past season. He served as principal cellist of the Cecilia Chorus of NY from 2015-2019 and subbed with the New York Pops. James was a founding member of Le Strange Viols, and he performs regularly with the Madison Bach Musicians.
Maynie, also a graduate of UW–Madison with a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Music Performance and Psychology, started her violin studies at age three with the Suzuki Strings of Madison and later studied with Eugene Purdue from ages 12 to 18. She studied under Midsummer’s Music and Pro Arte Quartet violinist David Perry. She played with the Quartet Biolina, under the guidance of Parry Karp, cellist of the Pro Arte Quartet, and she performed with the University of Wisconsin Symphony Orchestra. Maynie also performed at the Vienna Summer Music Festival, the Northern Lights Chamber Music Institute, and as an Emerging Artist at the Garth Newel Music Festival and the Mimir Chamber Music Festival. She currently plays with the Madison Symphony Orchestra and works with Achieving Collaborative Treatment, where she provides music therapy services for individuals with autism. She says her personal mission as a musician is “to exchange vitality, depth, joy, and intellectual stimulation with others through music.”
James and Maynie, who are passionate about the Griffon’s mission, will partner to select the Griffon’s new violist and additional violinist. In the meantime, guest musicians, some of whom may be candidates for the open positions, will be brought in to complete the quartet for performances and educational outreach. They are grateful for the Midsummer’s Music board’s enduring confidence and for the generous support from 2021/2022 Griffon season sponsors Laurey and Phil Clampitt.
Gala tickets are $75 and are available through the Midsummer’s Music website – midsummersmusic.com – or by calling 920-854-7088 during business hours. Kim Jensen/Mojo Enterprises III will cater the event with hearty hors d’oeuvres, desserts, and beverages.
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 who will be performing at the May 29 Gala 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.