The Well-Tempered Ear

Classical music: The Peninsula Music Festival in Door County turns 60 and runs Aug. 7-25. It features Madison singer Jonathan Overby in Copland’s “A Lincoln Portrait” as well as pianist Orli Shaham in Gershwin and Mozart plus violinists Henning Kraggerud in Beethoven and Hilary Hahn in Prokofiev.

August 1, 2012
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By Jacob Stockinger

It’s no secret that Wisconsin’s rural Door County (below) is a beautiful, well-known and popular vacation spot, not only for Badgers but also for people from surrounding areas including Chicago and the Twin Cities.

The scenic location is famed for its sailing, swimming and water sports on Lake Michigan as well as its fine food and arts.

You can also hear some great classical music up north.

This year’s marks the 60th anniversary of the Peninsula Music Festival, which takes place near Fish Creek in the Door County Auditorium. The festival, which features symphony music performed by the Peninsula Festival Orchestra (below) and guest soloists, opens next Tuesday, Aug. 7, and continues through Aug. 25 with concerts on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays.

For a full schedule and more information about the Peninsula Music Festival, visit

There is a lot of music to take note of. But I want to single out one local performer.

He is baritone Jonathan Overby (below), the acclaimed Madison-based singer who is also a radio host for Wisconsin Public Radio (listen to “Higher Ground” on Saturday night) and who teaches at Edgewood College. He will perform as the narrator in Aaron Copland’s famous “A Lincoln Portrait. It is an inspired choice, The Ear says, for a presidential election year in which the nation’s first African-American president is seeking reelection and for the narrator who organizes Madison’s annual tribute to Martin Luther King Jr. in the state Capitol.

The other outstanding soloists who with perform with the Peninsula Festival Orchestra under conductor Victor Yampolsky (below) include violinists Hilary Hahn and Henning Kraggerud as well as pianist Orli Shaham.

Both Kraggerud (below top) and Hahn (below bottom) have performed to acclaim in Madison, and I have never heard a live or recorded performance by them  – recital or concerto – that disappointed me. I find them both to be among the best all-around, most dependable and engaging violinists in the world today.

Overby will narrate Aaron Copland’s “Lincoln Portrait” with the Peninsula Music Festival on Saturday, Aug. 11 at 6:30 p.m. The concert entitled “Rhapsody in Blue” features the music of Aaron Copland and George Gershwin, and will take place in the Door Community Auditorium.

In addition, the concert will also include Copland’s full orchestral version of “Appalachian Spring” Suite as well as Gershwin’s “An American in Paris” and “Rhapsody in Blue.” Orli Shaham will be the pianist for “Rhapsody in Blue.”

Pianist Orli Shaham (below) is making her sixth appearance with the Festival Orchestra. In addition to her solo turn in Gershwin on Saturday, Aug. 11, Shaham will also solo on Tuesday, Aug. 14, at 8 p.m. in a program of “All Mozart, All the Time.” Shaham will perform Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 21. Mozart’s Serenade No. 12 and Symphony No. 39 will also be heard.

The opening concert next Tuesday night features violinist Henning Kraggerud in Beethoven’s Violin Concerto. Hilary Hahn will perform Prokofiev’s Violin Concerto No. 1.

Concerts are held in the Door Community Auditorium with air conditioning and reserved seats.

Tickets — along with other information including programs and a video — are available for all concerts and can be purchased at the Festival’s box office at 3045 Cedar Street in Ephraim, or on-line at or by calling (920) 854-4060. You can also find several video previews at YouTube. Here is the first:

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