Every year, as the snow blankets Door County, Artistic Director Jim Berkenstock, and I work on scheduling the artists, the settings and concert events in our Midsummer’s Music Festival.
Jim Berkenstock, a true master at putting the programs together, quietly researches and listens to one composition after another. I start lining up venues throughout Door County. Because Midsummer’s Music Festival does not have a home of our own, we perform in art galleries, homes, churches, and retreats throughout the county. This doesn’t appear to be difficult until you start looking at all of the requirements for an excellent concert experience.
It’s easier to program chamber music with piano than without. That means finding venues with grand pianos. Once we find those venues we have to consider the size of the staging area. How many musicians can we fit in comfortably? What are the acoustics like? Jim has to look at these facts very carefully as he selects the music.
For non-piano venues the criteria is the same. As an example, last summer we performed the Mendelssohn Octet for four violins, two cellos, and two violas. This worked beautifully in a larger venue such as the Woodwalk Gallery in Egg Harbor because of the wonderful acoustics, lighting, and large staging area. But this piece would not work at another of our favorite venues, the historic Ephraim Moravian Church, because we can’t fit eight musicians in the small church.
Another consideration is the distance between venues. We work very hard at spreading out the venues for each series so people throughout Door County have an opportunity to attend each program without driving a great distance. In essence, we bring the music to the people.
Once we finalize the venues, Jim really polishes the programs, changing pieces as necessary. It’s quite exciting to see the complete schedule which somehow, through Jim’s magic, works perfectly with each and every venue.
It’s a jigsaw puzzle. A fun and exciting jigsaw puzzle.
Kathleen M Pearson, Executive Director