The Well-Tempered Ear

Classical music preview: Wisconsin’s Door County will host a week-long Labor Day festival of chamber music from Sept. 1 to Sept. 6

August 18, 2010

By Jacob Stockinger

I received this wrap-up up the Midsummer’s Music Festival in Door County —Wisconsin’s nationally renowned vacation spot. The colorful festival will take place from Sept. 1 through Sept. 6 and has a local angle in that it features famous and historic Door County venues and local Madison musicians including the UW’s Pro Arte String Quartet and Wisconsin Public Radio host Anders Yocom.

I am running it now to give time to make travel places and reservations, if you are so inclined to hear great music in such a scenic location.

Here is the edited press release:

“Festival Continues its Tradition of Bringing Carnegie Hall Performances to Door County”

Sister Bay, WI – Door County’s Midsummer’s Music Festival has much in store for classical music lovers this September.

Wisconsin’s premier chamber music ensemble will end its 20th anniversary season with special concerts designed to celebrate historical connections to Door County and also a celebratory series that will feature some of the most inspiring performances over the festival’s 20-year history.

The concerts run September 1 – 6 and take place in various towns and locations around Door County.  Each concert venue is unique and full of history and charm.

World-class musicians from organizations such as the Lyric Opera of Chicago, Pro Arte Quartet of UW-Madison (below in a photo by Katrin Talbot), Aspen Music Festival, and artist faculty from major universities, make up Wisconsin’s premiere chamber music ensemble — Midsummer’s Music Festival.

The festival has had a long history of bringing Carnegie Hall quality performances to Door County.  While the Midsummer’s Music Festival began 20 years ago, the Labor Day series was started in 2002 when violist Walter Preucil and pianist William Koehler were scheduled for a concert in New York’s prestigious Carnegie Hall that October.

Festival founders Jim and Jean Berkenstock invited them to do a preview in Door County.  The concerts were very successful and became a permanent part of the festival.  The Carnegie Hall tradition continues as members of the festival ensemble just performed at Carnegie Hall in May of 2010.

The Labor Day series consists of two programs – each offered three different times at three different venues.

The first program is called “Historic Connections.” This program will include works by Edward Collins, Edvard Grieg and Franz Josef Haydn.

The first connection revolves around the first piece by Edward Collins, a composer who was born in Joliet, educated in Europe, lived in Chicago, and had close ties to the Chicago Symphony Orchestra.  Collins also had a summer place in Door County and did much of his composing there during a certain period of his life. He died in 1951.

The other connection is around the piece by Edvard Grieg.  Grieg is Norway’s most famous composer, a fitting tie-in to the Scandinavian population of Door County.

The second program is a celebration of 20 years of magnificent performances. Festival organizers chose works from the most splendid performances over the years.  All three pieces were played to great accolades.

“Cafe Music” by Paul Schoenfield is an outrageously infectious work that incorporates the best of jazz, blues, country, pop, etc., in a three-movement celebration. The Concerto by Liebermann is a single-movement work that features violinist Isabella Lippi and pianist William Koehler with the string quartet in another sparkling virtuoso work.

The final piece, Robert Schumann’s Piano Quintet, is one of the very best pieces of chamber music ever written, coming from 1841, just after his marriage to Clara Wieck which finally came to pass after 12 years of opposition from her father. Schumann burst forth with a torrid celebration of compositional activity (including this Quintet) that is among the most intense in the history of music.

Most tickets are $25.

The “MIDSUMMER’S MUSIC, HELP OF DOOR COUNTY and THE RIDGES CELEBRATION” is priced at $85 and includes dinner.  Wisconsin Public Radio host Anders Yocom will emcee the event.  All concerts include an inviting reception and a chance to meet the musicians.  For more information, visit the website or call 920 854-7088.

Here is a schedule:

Labor Day – Historical Connections

Wednesday, Sept. 1, Peninsula School of Art, Fish Creek, 7:30 p.m., $25

Thursday, Sept. 2, Ephraim Moravian Church, Ephraim 7:30 p.m., $25

Saturday, Sept. 4, Unitarian Universalist Fellowship, Ephraim, 7:30 p.m., $25

The program:

“Allegro Piacevole,” Edward Collins (1886 – 1951)

String Quartet

Symphony No. 101 in D Major, Franz Josef Haydn (1732 – 1809) J. P. Salomon version for Flute and Strings

String Quartet in G Minor, Opus 27, Edvard Grieg (1843-1907)

String Quartet

Labor Day – Celebration!

Friday, Sept. 3, Shepherd of the Bay, Ellison Bay, 7:30 p.m., $25

Sunday, Sept. 5, Ephraim Moravian Church, Ephraim, 3 p.m., $25


Monday, Sept. 6, Birch Creek Music Center, Egg Harbor, 3, p.m. $85 (includes dinner)

Concerto, Opus 28, Lowell Liebermann (b. 1961)

Violin, Piano, and String Quartet

“Café Music,” Paul Schoenfield (b. 1947)

Violin, cello and piano

Quintet in E-flat, Op. 44, Robert Schumann (1810 – 1856)

Piano and Strings

About the Venues:

Birch Creek Music Performance Center – Birch Creek Music Performance Center is a summer music school (academy) in Door County, Wisconsin, for advanced young musicians. The largest venue in the series, the Birch Creek Music Performance Center provides an acoustically sound environment that is ideal for classical chamber concerts.  3821 County E, Egg Harbor, WI, 54209, 920 868-3763

Ephraim Moravian Church – The oldest church on the Door County peninsula, the building was completed in 1859 by a group of Norwegian settlers.  This historic structure provides an inspiring setting for a classical music concert. 9970 Moravia St, Ephraim, WI 54211, 920.854.2804,

Peninsula School of Art – Founded in 1965 and located in the heart of Door County, Wisconsin, Peninsula School of Art is a center for education and exploration in the visual arts.  Situated on a 10-acre campus, the school strives to foster an understanding of the visual arts through education, exhibitions and community outreach programs. 3900 County F, Fish Creek, WI 54212, 920 868-3455

Shepherd of the Bay – Shepherd of the Bay Lutheran Church offers wonderful acoustics in a 220-seat sanctuary. This modern building includes a fellowship hall, large kitchen, seven classrooms, and a nursery. Highway 42 between Ellison Bay and Sister Bay in Door County, Wisconsin, 920-854-2988.

Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Door County – The concerts take place in a former art gallery that is housed at the Fellowship, 10341 Hwy. 42, North Ephraim, located next to the Green Gables Shops. A regional artist is featured each month in the Gathering Room. Displays include all types of artwork.

The Ear was invited to go review the concerts, but other commitments make that impossible.

So I would love to hear from those readers of others who have attended past concerts or will attend the upcoming concerts about what they think about the music and the quality of the performances.

It certainly promises some great music in great settings.

And The Ear wants to hear.

Posted in Classical music

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