Sister Bay, Wis. (January 17, 2022) – The Griffon String Quartet—hailed for “superb playing, palpable chemistry, spirit, and emotional connection”—visited the prestigious Lunenburg Academy of Music Performance in Nova Scotia to focus on its musicianship, provide youth outreach, and perform its international debut.
During the summer of 2021, Griffon members Vinicius Sant’Ana (violin), Blakeley Menghini (viola), and Ryan Louie (cello) performed with Oberlin College-based Verona Quartet violinists John Ong and Dorothy Ro at New York’s Caroga Lake Music Festival, where, with additional musicians from around the country, they played Osvaldo Golijov’s string octet. Cellist Ryan Louie explained the Lunenburg connection: “We had a great time and bonded over string quartet life. In October, we received a message from Dorothy, asking if we would be interested in attending the Lunenburg Academy of Music Performance to work with them. We could not resist the chance to attend!”
Joined by the fourth member of the quartet, violinist Ji-Yeon Lee, the Griffon’s typical day began with individual practice early in the morning, followed by extensive rehearsal throughout the remainder of the day, providing the group sanctuary to focus on quartet nuances and details. With ample time to concentrate individually and collectively, the quartet rehearsed intensely and efficiently. The Verona Quartet then provided feedback sessions in a masterclass setting that ranged from 90 to 120 minutes. On Fridays, the Griffon exercised its youth outreach mission by performing for children in elementary and middle school. During the second week at the academy, the Griffon held its international debut for a sold-out concert. Ryan credits the Verona Quartet with the work and knowledge its members generously shared for making the Griffon’s debut performance especially exhilarating.
Speaking on the highlights of the trip, Ryan said, “The whole trip seemed like a highlight, but working with the Verona definitely was the reason why we were there. Their knowledge and experience as a world-class string quartet was so inspiring. They really helped shape our time in Lunenburg. At one of the concerts, we had the opportunity to perform the Mendelssohn Octet with the Verona Quartet and that was an experience we’ll never forget. They are all such brilliant musicians who have such fun personalities! Other highlights were both of the Verona Quartet concerts we attended. Their concerts were some of the absolute best music making we have ever experienced.”
The Griffon members feel the trip was a rewarding, inspiring experience that helped the group appreciate its strengths while identifying areas for growth. Ryan says that, given the opportunity, the musicians would love to make the trip and work with the Verona Quartet again.
One of the most vibrant and engaging quartets of their generation, the Griffon String Quartet—Midsummer’s Music’s resident ensemble—was formed in 2018 to enrich the lives of children and adults throughout northeast Wisconsin through concerts, workshops, and music education outreach. Extraordinary musicians who have performed with orchestras and ensembles around the globe in the finest halls from the Millennium Stage at the Kennedy Center 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.
For more information visit www.midsummersmusic.com.