June 9th was the first full day of rehearsal for our Midsummer’s Music band of musicians here in Door County.
We did some rehearsing earlier in the week in the Chicago area, but the first phalanx of our group is here and hard at work – six hours today – more tomorrow. One of the things that I enjoy most about what I do in putting together the musical part of our season is the enthusiasm each player brings to our enterprise.
Part of it stems from the opportunity to play chamber music. For instrumental musicians, chamber music is about the most enjoyable and rewarding kind of music to play. Each player has a unique part, and each a say in shaping the way the music is played. With no conductor imposing an interpretation, it is up to the musicians to develop a consensus. Working in a collegial way among great musicians is quite stimulating.
It also has to do with being a part of something important in Door County. Making exquisite music amongst so much beauty is more than doubly rewarding. The air, the water, the beautiful flowers and scenery all underscore the pleasure of playing in so many fantastic homes, churches, and galleries. However, probably the best part of it all- and I’ve heard this said by so many of my colleagues- is the response we all experience from our audiences. Door County audiences really enjoy good music well presented and they know how to show it. In part, it might be because we have such great receptions after our concerts where audience members and musicians get a chance to converse. It breeds a kind of friendly informality and sense of camaraderie that is infectious.
At the core of all this is the program itself – those three or four pieces on a given night that musicians have labored over, staff and volunteers have prepared for, and audience members have committed time and money for. It’s hard, as a musician, to put yourself before an audience with the idea that you are going to play something that others will find
pleasing while hoping they will want to return to hear more in the future. It is also a bit concerning to try to figure out which works should comprise such a program, given all the expectations implied. And with the program planning done so far in advance, it leaves a very long time for your humble artistic director to dangle in the land of apprehension.
I’m always glad to hear a kind word or two of approval from an audience member after a concert. It’s even quite reassuring when someone says, “I really liked these two numbers but I’m not so sure about the third.” I’ll take sixty-six percent – it’s way better than I did in baseball. But all that comes after the rehearsals and at least one performance. The only bit of relief I get from that interminable purgatory between first putting a program on paper and hearing the audience’s applause is the occasional comment from a colleague who is studying his or her part. I had such an incident just about a week ago. I was talking to our wonderful first violinist David Perry about some rehearsal issues when he said, “Jim, you know that Rabl piece we’re doing? It’s a real sleeper!” Now I hasten to say, I don’t think he meant it would cause snoring. It was actually David’s droll kind of compliment. I don’t think David had ever heard of the composer, Walter Rabl, before, and he was trying to say I had found something that was really worth bringing out of the shadows. It seemed he was enjoying working on it and listening to a recording of it. He has no idea how
reassuring his words sounded.
I had a similar experience when I read an email from our clarinetist, Todd Cope. He said how much he was looking forward to doing the Mozart Clarinet Quintet. Now, a few more people have heard of Mozart than Rabl, but Todd’s excitement told me his performance was really going to be special. We aren’t performing the Rabl for a couple of weeks, but you can hear why Todd is excited this weekend when he presents his favorite Mozart along with works by Erwin Schulhoff (a composer who died in a Nazi concentration camp) and Franz Lachner (a close friend of Schubert).
We help kick off Fyr-Bal weekend on Friday evening at the Hardy Gallery in Ephraim. Saturday is our first-ever performance at the Sister Bay Historical Society, and Sunday we are at Woodwalk Gallery south of Egg Harbor. This is lively, engrossing music worth everybody’s commitment. Find out why Todd, David, and the rest of us are raring to go.
Please call 920.854.7088 or visit www.midsummerSmusic.com for information or reservations.
Reprinted with permission from the Door County Advocate – Door County Now.