Pro Arte Quartet Returns to Door County

Pro Arte Quartet
Pro Arte Quartet

Midsummer’s Music announces the first Door County appearance of the 2014 season of the world famous Pro Arte Quartet, ensemble-in-residence at the University of Wisconsin, on Monday, May 5 at 7:30pm at the Ephraim Moravian Church for an evening of music by Mozart, Bartók, and more!
One of the world’s most distinguished string quartets, the Pro Arte Quartet, maintains a three-fold commitment to the performance of chamber music. The quartet promotes an exciting balance of old and new repertoire, seeking opportunities to commission and premiere works of living composers in a variety of contemporary styles. The quartet seeks to broaden the audience for string chamber music through a full schedule of concerts, tours, recordings, and broadcasts, forging a passionate connection with audiences of diverse backgrounds. The Pro Arte Quartet also honors its past as the first ensemble-in-residence at a major American university, combining performance, education, and service to the state. Pro Arte Quartet is the only quartet in the world to have reached such legendary longevity.
The ensemble has been in continuous existence since 1911-1912, when its founding students at the Brussels Conservatory in Belgium organized the ensemble. Two of the current members of the quartet, also regular members of Midsummer’s Music Festival, violinist David Perry and violist Sally Chisholm are joined by violinist Suzanne Beia and cellist Parry Karp. All hold positions at UW-Madison.
Tickets are $30 for adults and $10 for students and reservations are recommended.
Arrangements for this event have been made through the UW-Madison Arts Outreach Program, a component of the UW-Madison Arts Institute.

2014 Festival Announcement

FINAL Pulse Qtr page Horizontal Ad for 2014 Season

The 24th Festival is June 13 opening night through July 15 and Labor Day weekend, August 26 through September 1. 

There will be numerous new venues and opportunities to buy Season Subscriptions with reserved seating.

Please refer to the Flyer at the Right of the page.
You may download a copy for your personal use.

Midsummer’s Music and United Way Partner in Labor Day Benefit Concert at Ellison Bay Estate, Sept 2

More than 200 people were in attendance at the first public event ever held at the Ellison Bay Estate on July 17, 2013.

Patrons enjoy the concert in the Grand Parlor at the Ellison Bay Mansion

Patrons enjoying the concert in the Grand Parlor at the Ellison Bay Mansion on July 17, 2013

They enjoyed a complete, guided tour of the largest home in the state of Wisconsin followed by a fantastic chamber music concert performed by members of Door County’s Midsummer’s Music Festival and then, celebrated their work with a tremendous array of wine and delicious hors d’ ouvres.

“As word got out about the July concert, our phones began ringing off the hook and the event was quickly sold out,” says Jim Berkenstock, festival co-founder. “Fortunately, the estate’s owners are very generous and have offered to host another concert there during the Labor Day Weekend.”

On Monday, September 2 at 3 pm, Midsummer’s Music Festival will present one more opportunity to enjoy intimate chamber music in the opulent setting of this stunning bluff side mansion overlooking the waters of Green Bay. Here’s a chance for the many people who were disappointed at not being able to attend the previous sold-out event, as the festival pairs with United Way of Door County in a joint benefit concert.

“This is one of those once-in-a-lifetime opportunities, to hear exquisite music in such a wonderful setting,” says Amy Kohnle, Executive Director of United Way of Door County. “We are especially excited to be part of an event in northern Door. Over a third of the services we deliver with the help of our strategic partners are provided to residents of northern Door County. This is a great example of an arts organization and a human services organization working together to benefit the county.”

The Labor Day concert will be performed in the estate’s two-story, Grand Parlor, adorned with extensive stone terraces, carved balustrades, a massive fireplace with a hand-carved mantle and romantic balconies that overlook the main floor. Entitled “Grand Eloquence,” the concert will feature David Perry, Violin; Stephanie Preucil, Violin; Sally Chisholm, Viola; Walter Preucil, Cello; and Jeannie Yu, Piano. Their repertoire will consist of:

  • Gustav Mahler’s Quartet Movement in A Minor for Violin, Viola, Cello, and Piano;
  • Paul Schoenfield’s Café Music for Violin, Cello and Piano and
  • César Franck’s Quintet in F Minor for Two Violins, Viola, Cello and Piano.

Guests will be chauffeured inside the gates of the estate by Door County Trolley shuttles, connecting them with ample parking at Shepherd of the Bay church. From the main entrance featuring a grand staircase inspired by Gone with the Wind, they will enjoy a complete guided tour beginning with refreshments and a visit to the mansion’s elegant theater for a brief introduction and film on the creation of the 35,000 square-foot Ellison Bay Estate. In total the residence has three grand guest suites, ten bathrooms, and a massive 5,000 square foot master suite. It also features a two-story library designed in the style of Vanderbilt Mansion, sitting rooms and an entire wing dedicated to a pool and spa including tropical plants a floor made of Jerusalem Quarry Stone, and several waterfalls including one connecting to a 14-person whirlpool.

“I would suggest you book your tickets early,” says Berkenstock. “There is a lot of interest in seeing what some have referred to as the ‘Downton Abbey’ of Door County.”

This wonderful afternoon will be capped off with an opportunity to meet the performing artists and enjoy a selection of fine wine and delicious taste treats created by Top Shelf Café and Gourmet. Tickets are $150 per person and may be purchased by contacting Midsummer’s Music Festival at 920.854.7088 or online. You can get a glimpse of the estate at EllisonBayManor.com.

Join Us “In an English Country Garden” at Birch Creek on June 7

We are now counting down the days until the annual Midsummer’s Music Gala… the first performance of a collection of chamber music entitled, In an English Country Garden, an opening night concert and festivities held at the Birch Creek Music Performance Center in Egg Harbor on Friday, June 7 at 7 pm.

We’ll dazzle your taste buds with gourmet chocolates, made locally by the confectioners at Door County Candy and raise our glasses together in a champagne toast to performing artists young and old,

Door County String Academy

…as Door County String Academy musicians, under the direction of Kimberly Souther provide a prelude concert.

Special guest Kathleen Blankenburg, a garden designer also known as The Gardening Angel, will define what truly constitutes an English garden. Then, we plan to whisk you away with the premiere performance of works by Gerald Finzi, Ralph Vaughan Williams and Charles Villiers Sanford as you might imagine strolling through an English garden.

Interlude in A Minor
Oboe and String Quartet
Gerald Finzi (1901-1956)

Quintet in D Major
Clarinet, Horn, Violin, Cello, and Piano
Ralph Vaughan Williams (1872-1958)

Quartet in F Major, Opus 15
Piano, Violin, Viola, and Cello
Charles Villiers Stanford (1852-1924)

The evening will close on a sparkling note as audience members meet the performing artists with Midsummer’s Music Festival and chat with friends and fellow concertgoers at a post concert party. Taste treats and fine wine will typically abound, including delicious cupcakes created in Sister Bay at Cupcake Heaven.

Two more performance opportunities of “In an English Country Garden” exist:

  • Saturday, June 8, at Saint Luke’s Episcopal Church, Sister Bay at 7:30 pm
  • Wednesday, June 12, at Bjorklunden, Baileys Harbor, at 7:30 pm

Midsummer’s Music Festival invites you to celebrate our 23rd year, featuring a unique collection of intimate concerts featuring world-class musicians who come together in Door County each season from groups that include the Lyric Opera of Chicago, the Pro Arte Quartet, the Aspen Music Festival, the Chicago Philharmonic Orchestra and the artist faculty at several major universities.  The festival presents a series of 30 exquisite classical music concerts in a host of unique venues ranging from the 120-year Anderson Dock’s Hardy Gallery, to a quaint community church from the 1850s, to the grand hall of a palatial mansion overlooking Green Bay.

Our YouTube channel is becoming an active presence with new videos published regularly, like this interview between Mark Kunstman and Jim Berkenstock:

Be sure to reserve a spot aboard the Island Clipper for a Thursday, July 11 dinner cruise through Death’s Door and a concert on Washington Island at the Historic Island Dairy, now a concert facility, museum, and gallery.  Our hallmark home concerts this season will be held at four unusual locations which include a Wednesday, July 17 performance at the Ellison Bay Estate – the first such public event ever held there. Each venue provides a unique staging opportunity to experience chamber music as it was originally intended, up close and very personal.

Tickets for the opening night gala in Egg Harbor are $35 (advance reservations requested), with encore performance tickets at $25 per adult and $10 for students. For more information or to order by phone, please call 920.854.7088.

Pro Arte Quartet opens Midsummer’s Concert Season, May 5, 2014

Midsummer’s Music Festival presents the Pro Arte Quartet

Midsummer’s Music Festival presents the Pro Arte Quartet

The legendary Pro Arte Quartet, in continuous existence since 1911-1912, will present an evening of classical chamber music at the Ephraim Moravian Church on Monday, May 5 at 7:30 pm. Featuring David Perry, violin; Suzanne Beia, violin; Sally Chisholm, viola; and Parry Karp, violoncello.

Pro Arte never fails to delight audiences with classic string works like those of Mozart, an archetype of the Classical style.

Tickets are priced at $30 for adults and $10 for students. Reservations are recommended, as the Pro Arte Concerts are always popular and often sold out events.

Midsummer’s Music Festival also provides audience members with an opportunity to meet these world renowned artists after the concert, sharing refreshments and conversation. The May 5 concert is the first of two opportunities to hear the Pro Arte Quartet in Door County. A second appearance is scheduled for Friday, September 12 at Woodwalk Gallery in Egg Harbor.

You can review the entire 2014 chamber music concert schedule and buy tickets online at: www.MidsummersMusic.com or by calling 920.854.7088.

Midsummer’s Music Festival – Door County’s Premiere Classical Ensemble!

The Clearing - Photo by Bill Jacobs

Midsummer’s Music Festival is Door County, Wisconsin’s premiere classical music ensemble. Our world-class musicians are from organizations such as the Lyric Opera of Chicago, Pro Arte Quartet, and the Marlboro Music Festival, and perform with faculty from notable Midwestern universities.

Lyric principles Jim and Jean Berkenstock (bassoonist and flutist) are the founders of Midsummer’s Music. They perform with our outstanding ensemble: violinist David Perry, violist Sally Chisholm, cellist Walter Preucil, hornist John Fairfield, pianists William Koehler and Bill Billingham, violinist Stephanie Preucil, and violist Allyson Fleck. Each year they are joined by accomplished musicians such as clarinetist Todd Cope from the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra, and violist Elias Goldstein, the runner-up in the 2011 Primrose International Viola Competition.

David Perry solo in Svenden's "Romance" at Rock Island's Viking Hall

Midsummer’s Music performs in intimate and casual settings throughout Door County such as art galleries, retreats, churches, and private homes. All concerts include an inviting reception where you can meet our  musicians.

From the great masters such as Mozart, Schubert, and Dvorak (to name a few), to some lesser-known but very accomplished composers, each concert is an unforgettable musical experience.

Midsummer’s Music has been a part of the Door County arts scene for 21 years.  From mid-June to mid-July, our festival is enjoyed by residents and visitors alike, by people of all ages.

Our 2011 musical journey wraps up August 31 – September 5, 2011. Check out our Calendar of Events: CALENDAR.

Midsummer’s Music Festival – The Best of the Best!



Door County’s Rock Island – A Concert Destination for Midsummer’s Music!

Jim Berkenstock, Photo by Bill Jacobs

“A Musical Journey!” That’s what Midsummer’s Music Festival’s brochure proclaims, and the cover of our program book, too. And July 5th, it was a hellava trip! For the second time in as many years, we set sail from Door County’s Gills Rock aboard The Island Clipper – destination, Rock Island.

 

Fifteen musicians and just over a hundred audience members came aboard. We explored Scandinavia, thanks to the music on the program by Grieg and Svendsen, with a side trip to Germany and parts of the U.S. with music by Heinrich Hofmann and Kent Kennan, but we also toured Death’s Door Strait, rounded the impressive Boyer’s Bluff at the northwest end of Washington Island, and pressed on to Rock Island and the fabulous Viking Hall astride the famous Boat House that serves as its foundation.

Arriving at Rock Island

Last year we had “diesel drama” that almost scuttled our trip. A serious problem in the Clipper’s engine had been eluding resolution for weeks. Only a miraculous last minute repair salvaged our first nautical tour beyond Washington Island. This year, it was the weather. From the 1st of July through the 4th, we had some of the best weather Door County can provide – and that’s saying something. The only problem was that our trip was scheduled for the 5th, and the weather service was predicting a good chance of thunderstorms. I start checking the long-range forecast a week ahead of time when we are planning one of these trips, knowing full well the accuracy of a weather prediction that far in advance is very suspect. However, this time, they got it right from the start.

The various forecast sources all seemed to agree that there would be wonderful weather before, and after, the 5th of July, but they insisted that a cold front coming in from the northwest would override warm humid air on our D-Day and produce scattered thunderstorms – some isolated ones possibly severe. I hoped that these early estimations would be downgraded. Instead, they were upgraded. “Spotter activation may be necessary,” they began to say. I don’t know about you, but I would just as soon stay home when spotter activation is necessary. About three days before our departure, I started going over to Charlie’s Smoke House in Gills Rock to see if I could catch our skipper, Charlie Voight, between his regular trips to Washington Island. If I was nervous, he was nonchalant. The weather forecast for the 6th of July, our alternate weather date, was just peachy. I thought we should consider delaying, but Charlie wasn’t as interested in clear skies as he was the wind. “If the wind is out of the northwest, we can’t tie up at the dock over there. It will bash the boat against the dock, and we won’t even be able to unload,” Charlie told me.

Viking Hall

In the end, we decided to follow Charlie’s advice. He has years of experience traveling the waters of Death’s Door Strait and beyond. It was the right decision. Despite turbulent looking skies and some waves that made pouring wine on the boat pretty risky business, we had a beautiful trip over complete with delicious dinner. Grieg’s Holberg Suite never sounded so splendid. The rafters of the Viking Hall rang out in sympathetic resonance. David Perry’s violin sent shivers through the audience in Svendsen’s Romance for violin and strings as his glorious sound floated out over the waters. On the ride back, thunderstorms approached but parted to the north and south. We were like the Israelites led by Moses across the divided waters. I went into the wheelhouse. With a beautiful sunset amidst threatening clouds off to the northwest, Charlie said, “Looks like we’re doing okay.” “You don’t need to hurry home,” I said to Charlie. “We have dessert and quite a bit of Champagne to take care of.” He smiled and eased back on the throttle. As I was leaving the wheelhouse, I looked back at him and said, “Charlie, you’re a genius.” He gave me another smile.

Our journey this weekend takes us to Italy, compliments of Tchaikovsky ,with his string sextet called “Souvenir of Florence.” We won’t have to worry about the weather, but there will be plenty of excitement, passion, romance, and glorious sounds in three fantastic homes and the Woodwalk Gallery. Join us before July 17 as we bring this great journey called our 21st season back into port. Call 920.854.7088 or visit www.midsummerSmusic.com for reservations or more information.

A Good Time Was Had By All – Midsummer’s Music Adventure on Rock Island!

Rock Island's Viking Hall

A few clouds and reports of storms couldn’t keep Midsummer’s Music away from the event of the year as we cruised to Door County’s historic Rock Island.

 

The event, which sold out several weeks ago, was a huge success. With 120 people on board, including our outstanding ensemble, we departed from Gills Rock at 4:00 PM. Yes, there were clouds but they soon cleared as we made our way on the Island Clipper. In fact, the weather was nice enough that many people took advantage of sitting on the top deck. Captain Charlie Voight narrated as we cruised through Death’s Door. Drinks were served along with a choice of four wonderful entrees from Alexander’s of Fish Creek.

The audience was at full attention as we approached the historic boat house. This marvelous structure is constructed out of field stone and it was quite exciting for those who had never been to Rock Island. That’s an understatement – it was quite exciting for everyone!

Jean Berkenstock Flute Solo "Night Soliloquy"

Last night’s performance really stood out in the wonderful acoustics of Viking Hall. From the first note of Jean Berkenstock’s solo flute in Kennan’s “Night Soliloquoy” to the last note of David Perry’s violin solo in Svendsen’s “Romance,” it sounded like we had a full orchestra. Grieg’s “Holberg Suite” featured 11 strings which is the largest ensemble Midsummer’s has ever had. Imagine 11 strings sounding like an entire string orchestra – fantastic!

We were all surprised by the beautiful sunset which had many folks snapping picture after picture. The weather remained mild and we were greeted in Gills Rock by a few sprinkles. The timing was perfect and a few people stayed on the open, top deck until we docked.

David Perry solo in Svenden's "Romance"

All in all, it was a great evening. Our return to Rock Island was a success and according to the comments last night, a good time was had by all!

Our next program, Romantic Legacy, begins Thursday evening, July 7, at the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship in north Ephraim at 7:30 PM. This program features Doppler’s Nocture, Opus 19 for flute, horn, violin, and piano; Rabl’s Quartet in E-flat Major, Opus 1 for clarinet, violin, cello, and piano; and Brahms’ Quartet in G Minor. Opus 25 for violin, viola, cello, and piano. We’ll be presenting this program throughout the weekend. Visit www.midsummerSmusic.com for more details.

Sunset between Rock Island and Gills Rock

 

 

 

Midsummer’s Music Festival’s Door County Memories – Reflections by Zachary Preucil

This may be the first year that I will be performing with the Midsummer’s Music Festival, but it is also my twenty-first June spent in the beautiful Door Peninsula.

 

I was only a seven-and-a-half-month-old baby during the premier season of MMF in 1991, and although I obviously do not remember a thing, it marked the beginning of an annual tradition for me as I grew up with my parents performing in the festival each year: driving up north from Chicago right after school let out (or, in some lucky years, a few days before), getting to be cared for by my favorite babysitter (often one of my mother’s violin students), and experiencing all of my favorite Door County traditions, from golfing at the Red Putter in Ephraim to eating at the “Goats on the Roof” restaurant in Sister Bay. Probably my fondest memories of those early years are of the annual party for the musicians thrown by Jim and Jean Berkenstock at their charming Gills Rock home, which normally consisted of an abundance of fantastic cooking, animated conversation, and wheelbarrow rides for the children given by none other than Jim himself. After the evening’s activities had died down, and the musicians were having one last piece of cherry pie, I would often take out my miniature-sized cello and play whatever pieces I had been working on lately. My renditions were always greeted with enthusiastic applause, and although I knew little of what the professional music world was really like, the warmth and encouragement I received from my parents and their colleagues inspired me enormously. I was just a beginner, but I was making music just like they were, and to my six-year-old mind that seemed pretty cool.

When I was eight, I composed a short trio for a fine arts competition sponsored by the Parent Teachers Association, and it advanced to the Illinois State Level where it received honorable mention. When my mother told Jim about it, he suggested that a performance of my piece be given during a children’s concert at the Miller Arts Center in Sturgeon Bay. The performance was a great success and was even broadcast on a local television station. As every year went by, I wrote a new piece for the same competition, and every summer between 1999 and 2004, these pieces were subsequently performed by the Midsummer’s Music ensemble, first as part of the outreach concerts for children or retirees, and then as un-programmed “preludes” at one of the concert series. The continued support of my compositional efforts from the audience and the musicians was indeed quite meaningful to me. Here I was, just a kid dabbling in a complex art, and they clapped with the same enthusiasm they had for Beethoven or Brahms. As a gesture of gratitude for their support, the first year I was in high school (and therefore no longer eligible for the fine arts competition I had participated in previously), I wrote “Up the Door Peninsula,” a quintet which depicted several locations throughout Door County and was once again performed during the MMF season.

During these years, the musical experiences I had in Door County enriched my personal growth as a musician. Having my compositions performed as preludes at concerts meant I would have to bite the bullet and listen to the rest of the program, something which isn’t always easy for a ten-year-old. Unsurprisingly, some of those first years found me drifting off into daydreams, drawing detailed pictures on the program, or reading a book in whatever room was serving as the backstage that evening. But as I grew older, I began to become attracted to the tones emanating from the stage which I had recently been standing on myself. I noticed the musicians interacting with each other, marveled at their focus and intensity, and felt the pull of the music drawing me closer into the mass of sonority which they were producing. I began to discover that a concert is not merely entertainment, but an intellectual and emotional experience. By the time I entered high school, and began to become serious with my cello studies, I had already learned much about the awe of a live performance – to let the sounds of music pour out of one’s very being, channeled through an instrument and sent spiraling out into that eternal silence of a concert hall. During my high school years, I encountered all of the usual stressors an aspiring musician might face – all-state auditions, the ugliness of musical politics, making the decision to pursue music as a career, and the resulting uncomfortable doubts if one has really made the right choice. But every June as I returned to Door County, I was reminded once more of where my passion for the art began – here, in the rolling meadows, bubbling brooks, and majestic harbors that gleam red-orange in the dusk.

Now, as I look back on two decades of Junes spent in the peninsula, I feel forever indebted to the musical and personal experiences I have had here. Throughout the ups and downs of attending summer music programs, taking auditions, and ultimately attending the New England Conservatory of Music in Boston, I was always sustained by the knowledge that there is a place where music is brought to life in its most innate form, a place where musicians are comrades as opposed to competitors, and a place where you can sit in the back of a rustic gallery and listen to the strains of genius as the sun sinks into the harbor and the wind whispers in the softly swaying trees. That place is Door County.

 

Note from Kathleen Pearson, Executive Director: Zachary will be performing with Midsummer’s Music on Program D, Summer Evening Magic. This program features the music of Kennan, Hofmann, Grieg, and Svendsen. The performances will be on Tuesday, June 28 at the Woodwalk Gallery in Egg Harbor; Thursday, June 30 at the historic Fish Creek Town Hall; and Tuesday, July 5 on Rock Island (the Rock Island event is sold out). Tickets are available at 920-854-7088 or via our website at www.midsummerSmusic.com. We hope you can join us and see Zachary’s professional debut with Midsummer’s Music Festival!

Rustic Door County Barns Featured During Midsummer’s Music Chamber Music Festival!

 

Lachner Nonet at Corner of the Past

Midsummer’s Music wraps up their second program – Haunting Recollections – tonight at the Woodwalk Gallery in Egg Harbor.

 

As I write this, Jim Berkenstock is addressing the audience. This beautiful gallery, in a converted barn, offers excellent acoustics. Tonight we have the gentle sound of falling rain accompanying our musicians. This is a perfect way to end this program. In fact, this program was performed in three barns and has been renamed to “Barnegie Hall.”

Last night we performed at Sister Bay Historical Society’s Corner of the Past, again in a barn. The entire property is rich with historic outbuildings and the barn was no exception. It was fun to see our musicians enter the barn for the first time. Not sure what to expect, they were instantly smiling at the unique antiques and remarked how wonderful the acoustics were. It was a great evening and we look forward to performing there again.

Schulhoff Concertino at Corner of the Past

Friday night’s concert was at the Hardy Gallery in Ephraim. While we can’t officially call it a barn, it’s a restored warehouse and has the look and feel of a barn. The Hardy has sentimental meaning to us since that is the very first venue we ever performed in. The weather was perfect and we were able to watch the sunset during intermission.

The music for this program was outstanding. Flutist Jean Berkenstock was absolute perfection. During the Schulhoff Concertino she alternated between flute and piccolo without missing a beat. Beautiful! And bassist Jason Heath went all out during this piece – a rare opportunity for the bass to be featured. Violist Sally Chisholm gave another exceptional performance. It’s so nice to have them all back with Midsummer’s.

Mozart’s Quintet in A Major featured clarinetist Todd Cope whose animated style adds so much to the performance. Our string quartet – violinists David Perry and Stephanie Preucil, cellist Walter Preucil, and violist Sally Chisholm – was fantastic. Mozart would have been so proud to hear his music

Clarinetist Todd Cope. Photo by Bill Jacobs.

played so beautifully. In fact, I’m listening to our talented ensemble perform this piece at this very moment!

The finale was Franz Lachner’s Nonet in F Major. All I can say is, “Wow!” It’s a rare opportunity to have so many musicians on stage at one time – a sort of mini-orchestra. This piece featured flutist Jean Berkenstock, oboist Tim Sawyier, clarinetist Todd Cope, bassoonist Jim Berkenstock, hornist John Fairfield, violinist David Perry, violist Sally Chisholm, bassist Jason Heath, and cellist Walter Preucil. Phenomenal is the only word I can use to describe this performance.  And, I’m happy that I’ll be hearing/seeing it again in just a few minutes.

Our next program – French Affections – starts on Thursday, June 23 at Shepherd of the Bay in Ellison Bay and features the music of Turina, Gieseking, and Saint-Saens. For more information, call 920-854-7088 or visit www.midsummerSmusic.com.