By David Perry
When Allyson Fleck and the Midsummer’s Music Board asked me to write to you, I was glad for the opportunity. In July, Jim surprised me with a certificate for 20 summers of performing at Midsummer’s. (I knew the years were adding up, but not the decades!) Had I been less stunned I might have articulated some of the following. Also, during our last Labor Day series I very much missed playing for you all due to a hand injury, and I’m happy to report that even though I’m traditionally a bad patient, my recovery is going well. My goal is to be back to at least 100% by June.
Why June? Well, Midsummer’s is always the highlight of my year when I can be simply a violinist and musician, free of travel fatigue and the rancor and tedium that comes with academia. I look forward to it all year, and even more so to this coming 30th Anniversary season. Since my early teens, I have experienced dozens of summer music festivals, some at their inception, many at their zenith, and a few during their declining years. What is remarkable about Midsummer’s is that it has grown steadily for 30 years now with no end in sight. Wittingly or unwittingly, Jim and Jean Berkenstock have created something about which most musicians only fantasize … the perfect summer festival. Here’s the criteria, and least from my perspective:
Celebrate the best possible music with the greatest possible colleagues. From day one, Jim and Jean have surrounded themselves with not only wonderful musicians, but thoughtful, friendly team players. The kind you would invite if you lived on an island. There is no greater joy than rehearsing and performing the great chamber music classics alongside completely unknown gems unearthed by archeologist/musicological super-sleuth Jim Berkenstock with such great colleagues, all in the intimate settings for which this music was intended.
Great audiences. None of the above can exist in a vacuum. I have long held the belief that the synergy and listening intensity of the Midsummer’s audience is second to none. And I can’t even tell you how inspiring it is to us when we see familiar faces returning multiple times to the same program. At the very least, we feel like we’re doing something right!
Oh right, beautiful setting. But if you’re reading this, you either visit or live in northeast Wisconsin and already know how gorgeous Door County is. Honestly, the Rockies, Smokies and Cascades start to look alike after a while and don’t hold a candle to the variety of land/waterscapes of Door County.
An active and engaged board. Let’s just say that at larger, more corporate festivals board members are rarely seen at concerts, much less hosting receptions, moving furniture, etc. But in addition to enthusiastically celebrating music with us, the Midsummer’s board members do so much more, with generous financial support and assistance of all kinds. And, with the Griffon Quartet expanding Midsummer’s outreach to all of Northeastern Wisconsin year-round, we are brightening and ensuring our relevance to future generations.
Now, your role has become even more powerful. I recently learned of an anonymous donor who will match all gifts up to $50,000. Since we have a goal for our year-end campaign of $100,000, we are halfway there – IF – you will join me in helping us meet this challenge. I am so grateful to be able to perform for you each summer. Please help keep this wonderful adventure thriving and full of excitement, and let’s take advantage of every cent this challenge offers.
Warmest regards for the holidays, and I hope to see all of you at the opening concert of our 30th season.