Midsummer’s Music executive director and associate director teach the History of Western Music at Northeast Wisconsin Technical College.
Sister Bay, Wis. (March 4, 2022) – Midsummer’s Music’s Executive Director Allyson Fleck, DMA, and Associate Director Noah Schaffrick led 26 adult students in the History of Western Music course at Northeast Wisconsin Technical College in Sturgeon Bay. The sold-out class ran weekly for three sessions starting February 8, 2022.
Fleck and Shaffrick structured the course to be packed with captivating musical examples, providing familiarity with different periods of music: Early Music, Middle Ages, Renaissance, and Baroque; Classical and Romantic; and Romanticism and the 20th Century—and Beyond.
The Early Music to Baroque session focused on ancient Greece, sacred and secular music, troubadours and trouvères, the development of music, and composers Thomas Tallis, Claudio Monteverdi, Giovanni Gabrielli, Johann Sebastian Bach, Georg PhilippTelemann, and George Frideric Handel. Fleck and Shaffrick spotlighted works from the Bach family, Franz Joseph Haydn, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, and Ludwig van Beethoven during the Classical and Romantic session. The final class on Romanticism and the 20th Century—and Beyond covered pieces by Franz Schubert, Niccolo Paganini, Hector Berlioz, Felix Mendelssohn, Robert and Clara Schumann, Johannes Brahms, Richard Wagner, national styles, and modern-day composers from Igor Stravinsky to Midsummer’s own Jacob Beranek, Will Healy, Quinn Mason, and Paul Frucht.
Well-crafted and comprehensive PowerPoint presentations documented such topics as the elements of music, the role of the church, types of instruments, the development of music notation, and musical modes and overtones. Cleverly embedded links within the presentations provided many interactive opportunities for students to hear examples from a remarkably wide range of periods, styles, and composers. The ample video links included Midsummer’s Music performances with violinists David Perry and Ann Palen, violists Sally Chisholm and Allyson Fleck, and cellist Greg Sauer.
When asked for her assessment of the course, Fleck described her experience saying, “No matter what age, you are never too young or too old to learn. Teaching gives me a gift of many returns. This class is inspirational, challenging, and fun! While class questions can be simply about a composer’s dates or symphony titles, they can quickly change to what exactly influenced the musical style, or how do musicians describe timbre? What economic traits affected performing arts? And so on. I am grateful for the opportunity to present and to be challenged. A highlight for me was performing a mirror duet with Noah. This is a composition in which the music is written left to right and top to bottom. When flipped upside down (or read on the opposite side of a table) it is a perfect duet. To find out how that is possible, I encourage anyone interested to enroll the next time we teach this class.”
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.