A 23rd season is not a particular anniversary season, but somehow this year seems like one for Midsummer’s Music Festival.
We set up our performance schedule at the many enticing venues that have become part of our trademark, except that this year it seemed like there were more great possibilities. Four beautiful homes were offered, all of which are so perfect for an evening of music. We decided we had to take to the water again, so this time we arranged a trip on Charlie Voight’s Island Clipper to Washington Island, complete with dinner on the boat and a concert at the Historic Island Dairy.
Our annual visit to Green Bay turned into a benefit for the East High School Institute with a gala performance and reception at Arketype, a spectacular renovation of an historic church in downtown Green Bay. All of this follows a spectacular champagne opening night June 7 at Birch Creek Music Performance Center, followed by 17 other performances at such enticing venues as The Hardy Gallery, The Clearing, Björklunden and more. One of the more unusual of these is a performance at Door Community Auditorium, where both the audience and the musicians will sit onstage. It will be a rare opportunity for a performer’s-eye view of life on the stage at DCA.
Having managed to get all of this lined up and six different musical programs concocted which promised to be exciting enough to match the magic of the host sites, it seemed like we were nearly home-free.
Then the real excitement began. We were contacted about the possibility of performing at the Ellison Bay Estate — you know, the place we all affectionately call “The Big House.” It’s not everyday you get invited to perform in a 42-room mansion which happens to be the largest private residence in Wisconsin, so what is a tired-out artistic director to do?
“Plenty, and fast” is the answer. Just when we thought we could take a deep breath, a whole new level of planning took over our lives.
All kinds of logistical questions had to be decided concerning food and beverages, security, parking and access, promotion and so on. From an artistic standpoint, this meant adding not just an additional concert to our already stuffed calendar, but an entirely different program.
Since there was no room in our already arranged schedule, this concert would have to be added at the end. We selected July 17, but this was the latest our festival had ever gone into July. It would push us three days past our previously proposed ending date. Would all our musicians be available? I couldn’t wait to tell them about this wonderful opportunity, but I was fearful that they would have other plans already booked.
As it turned out, everyone was able to adjust their schedules, so the “show will go on.” And what a show it will be.
The Grand Parlor at The Big House is grand indeed. It is the perfect place for a concert of our music, a concert that will be full of passion and excitement from start to finish. It will resemble the kind of setting that much of our music was originally intended for — a palatial home from the old country, perhaps belonging to the nobility. Finally, this luxurious home will be open for many to see and to experience in all its glory.
The one element I haven’t covered in this story revolves around our efforts to get a suitable piano into this magnificent home. That is the one (and only) thing this residence lacks, but we have solved that problem in a splendid way. However, that is a story for another time and another column. Stay tuned!