The Door County arts scene will be in full swing in just a few months. Leading the pack is Midsummer’s Music, Door County’s premiere chamber ensemble, as we kick off our 21st festival on June 10. Let us help get you in the mood as we describe a typical Midsummer’s Music experience.
Imagine a cool summer night, the feel of crisp air yet offering warmth and comfort all at the same time. Somewhere there is scent of a lovely garden although you can’t identify exactly what smells so wonderful. Perhaps that fragrance brings back a childhood memory for one brief moment. Nonetheless, it’s calming.
All of this is preceded by a special dinner at your favorite restaurant. You sip a glass of fine wine while enjoying a superb meal, and share great company and conversation. The evening is off to a perfect start, full of anticipation and excitement. Your thoughts vary. If you have dessert, will that make you late? Maybe let’s skip it because there will be wonderful desserts later on.
You feel nervous anticipation as you park the car. This is something you’ve looked forward to all week. That fragrance in the garden stops you – what is it? – and then you continue. A greeting is called out and a brief exchange is held. You search for the perfect seats and then calmly read through the program. It doesn’t matter that you’ve read through it before because you always find something new and different.
You look around and watch others arrive, some of whom you know. It’s a perfect opportunity to catch up with each other and suddenly, while in deep conversation, it’s time to take your seat. This is the moment you’ve been waiting for. This is what the evening is all about.
Before the music starts, you learn about the composers. You had no idea that Mendelssohn wrote this composition when he was 15. What were you doing at age 15? Probably chasing the opposite sex! This is very interesting.
Now it’s time. You watch as the performers take their places. Music stands are adjusted and last-minute tuning is heard. The musicians are ready to begin. You hold your breath as you wait for the ensemble to play. Slightly amusing, yet always exciting, you wonder how they begin without a conductor. Your eyes move from one musician to the next. You smile while you watch Sally Chisholm play viola. Facial expression is an understatement in Sally’s case. Why did she just smile? Was it a particularly difficult section that she got through? You can barely take your eyes off of her when you hear the magical sounds of the flute. Jean Berkenstock’s solo now has your full attention. Walter Preucil’s cello joins in and you watch between him and Jean. Their focus is intent, interacting with each other and the rest of the ensemble in perfect harmony. Suddenly you are taken by the sounds of the clarinet. It’s almost flutelike and absolute perfection. The ensemble’s tone and spirit is second to none.
You have trouble taking your eyes off of David Perry, violin. His body ebbs and flows with the music, calm yet hysterical, andante yet vivace. Although not the leader or conductor of the ensemble, the ensemble flows through him. You notice that when their eyes are not on the music, they are on David. You watch him and the others because of what you hear. You ask yourself how it is possible to have so much talent on one stage. And you think how fortunate you are to be there, experiencing the sights and sounds of this amazing ensemble.
Suddenly, and seemingly without notice, the last note rings out. Normally a pretty reserved person, you jump to your feet, cheering and applauding. You smile as the ensemble takes their bow, exits, and return a couple more times. The wild appreciation is contagious and you smile when the musicians smile. For them, they are happy to make you happy. For you, you want to thank them and show your appreciation.
But it’s not over. You look over at the reception table. Oh, remember that dessert you skipped at dinner? Is there chocolate? You find your courage to speak to some of the musicians, thanking them for a wonderful performance.
As you walk to your car you smell that lovely fragrance again. What is it? You stop by the garden and linger ever so briefly, enjoying the scent one last time.
The drive home alternates between silence and pandemonium. One minute you are deep in thought about the magic of the performance. The next moment a friend breaks your reverie, sharing their experience. It’s a perfect end to a perfect evening.
This is an event.
This is an experience.
This is Midsummer’s Music Festival.
Reprinted with permission from the Peninsula Pulse.