Midsummer’s Music Festival: On the Road to the Golden Jubilee

By Allyson Fleck

Having been with Midsummer’s Music Festival as a violist for over ten years, last year I became the organization’s Assistant Artistic Director and a member of its Board of Directors. My expanded duties enable me to explore intriguing and inspiring dimensions of our wonderful music festival.

Midsummer’s recently celebrated its 25th anniversary–our Silver Jubilee. It was an exciting season filled with increased audiences, venues, concerts and collaborations. The success of last year’s concerts has boosted enthusiasm in our organization, and we are planning another exciting season. Many arts organizations celebrate anniversaries of significance and ask the question: How do we top last year? I would like to share with you our thoughts on how we hope to continue our success.

First, let me tell you a little about our organization. Midsummer’s Music was conceived and built around the idea of the northern climes of celebrating, especially around the summer solstice when the daylight is so prolonged, in contrast to the long winter nights. This heritage is well known in Wisconsin’s Door County, home to Midsummer’s Music Festival. Midsummer’s Music celebrates a state of mind—a desire to enjoy the company of like-minded spirits in music, culture, friendship, and camaraderie. Jim Berkenstock, co-founder and artistic director started Midsummer’s Music Festival 26 years ago with a few musicians and a handful of concerts. Last year we had over 30 concerts with more than a dozen musicians performing in our core group. Our musicians are world-class and come from such organizations as Lyric Opera of Chicago, Milwaukee Symphony, the Chicago Philharmonic, Pro Arte Quartet and the Aspen Music Festival. Every summer, this group of top-tier classical performers gathers in beautiful Door County to present a series of exquisite classical concerts. Concerts take place in a host of unique venues ranging from homes, galleries, and churches to boathouses, barns, restaurants, etc. Each venue offers a distinct musical experience for the listener.

Midsummer's Music musicians perform at the Weidner Center for the Performing Arts in Green Bay, WI.

Midsummer’s Music musicians perform at the Weidner Center for the Performing Arts in Green Bay, WI. I believe our success starts with our board, staff and musicians. In addition, we play chamber music of lesser-known composers mixed in with famous giants of the repertoire. We play in intimate venues allowing our audience to sit up-close-and-personal to the musicians. The musicians achieve a level of playing that one would think nowhere else could be better. We communicate both in program notes and verbally at concerts. We enjoy food and drink at every concert with conversation among musicians and audience members. We also collaborate with other arts organizations in Door County.

Midsummer’s 2016 season theme is “radically appealing.” Starting with an opening night gala on June 17, we will continue to offer extraordinary concerts that are intimate and located in beautiful venues. A new collaboration this year is with four artists and eight poets from other Door County organizations. These talented people will create new works based on repertoire from our season. At our four Woodwalk Gallery concerts, we will offer Picnics with Art Talks. The audience members are invited to bring their own picnics and spend time with friends while enjoying the newly landscaped gardens. Featured Woodwalk artists will give brief presentations and unveil a piece of their art that was inspired by music being performed at the four concerts. Our eight Bjorklunden concerts will feature a poet from WriteOn Door County. Each poet will read a poem they have written in response to music performed at those concerts.

Also new this year is a Downton Abbey Affair—a grand evening of turn-of-the-century English composers. Audience members can come dressed in their favorite Edwardian, WWI or Roaring 20s attire. Restored vintage cars will guide the concertgoers to the venue’s front doors.

Dinner concerts and home concerts are a fixture of Midsummer’s Music Festival. In 2016, we will have four dinner concerts, where a limited number of attendees can enjoy a delicious meal with our musicians at some of Door County’s finest restaurants. Each of the five home concerts is located on shoreline estates overlooking the waters of Lake Michigan, Sturgeon Bay or Green Bay.

We round out our season with a series of eleven concerts culminating on Labor Day. Composers this season range from Beethoven, Lalo, Schubert, Ravel and Brahms to Moszkowski, Schoenfield, Foote and Danzi. It will be a radically appealing season that will build upon the enthusiasm of our last season.

In an age where so many arts organizations are having difficulties, Midsummer’s Music Festival is proud to have found a thriving plan to take us to our Golden Jubilee and beyond. Please check out our website: www.MidsummersMusic.com and our Facebook page. We hope to celebrate our 26th season with you.

Allyson Fleck is currently Midsummer’s Music Festival Assistant Artistic Director and Violist in beautiful Door County, Wisconsin. Allyson and her family moved to Colorado in the summer of 2015. She is the Assistant Principal Viola in the Fort Collins Symphony Orchestra. Allyson is active in the freelance community playing with the Colorado Springs Philharmonic, substitute viola with the Colorado Symphony and Greeley Philharmonic. Additionally, Allyson teaches strings at the Rocky Ridge Music Institute in Boulder and the St. Mary’s Catholic School in Greeley.

Allyson received her Doctor of Musical Arts degree in Viola Performance at the University of Wisconsin–Madison in 2004.

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