FISH CREEK, Wis. (WFRV) – The noble, three-week, nine-concert Peninsula Music Festival got off the ground Tuesday night in Door Community Auditorium for the first time since August 2019.

In ways, the opening of northeastern Wisconsin’s showcase classical music event was as glorious as ever – sterling performances of two Ludwig van Beethoven works in addition to the traditional season-opening “The Star-Bangled Banner” that is always a rush heard live with a full-bodied orchestra.

But the COVID-19 grip lingers. Masks are required of the audience, plus proof of vaccination. Orchestra musicians who can also wear masks – all black in a matching look that fits in with white-top/black bottom clothing.

David Keen, board president, told the audience it was “a pleasure – and relief – to welcome you to this performance.”

Christoph Ptack, president and CEO, also noted the long and stressful period and then informed the audience the third scheduled Beethoven work on the program, a piano concerto, was a scratch. Inna Faliks, the esteemed concert artist and professor at UCLA, was “unable to perform due to illness,” Ptack said.

For what was performed, enthusiasm came easily.

David Danzmayr, one of five conductors this season, surely commanded the Festival Orchestra. He is ambidextrous – baton in right hand to set a pace, expressive motion with the left hand to signal fine points. At the conclusion, the musicians stamped their feet to make sure David Danzmayr received an audience call-back by applause and voice. For the orchestra, it was a kind of rousing “thank you.”

Stepping back and looking at the event in a number of ways:

+ Beethoven’s “Second Symphony” was first performed in 1803. There are reasons it is performed 219 years later… among oh so many Beethoven works still “in play.” Beethoven is like a smorgasbord with all the best notes being served. As in the bon-bon of “incidental music” for “King Stephen” also on the program, Beethoven’s sound starts big, quick-shifts to light or serene and fills in the in-between with whirlwinds and gentleness and speed and finesse and muscle and the whole shebang. Beethoven sounds like he’s seriously having fun.

+ It takes great skill by a lot of people in coordination to perform this music. The Festival Orchestra is a beauty. In the lineup below, take a look at where the musicians come from. The list represents years and years of training – now gathered to distill and present music heard for centuries. One of the interesting things of orchestras is they are made up of people with individual likes and opinions that are well imbedded, but there is no argument when they gather to deliver music. The sound of an orchestra is the sound of agreement.

+ The Beethoven works on the evening invigorate the mind. They are color, complexity and challenge distilled. Each includes touches of a dance aura. Each is scrappy as all get out. An exciting passage in the symphony is a scampering as if through a rugged mountain landscape that comes to dead stops, as if to look around, followed by a cranked-up, full-bore explosive finale.

Yes, Beethoven, Bravo!

***

Scheduled program: Masterworks I: Bravo Beethoven!”

David Danzmayr, conductor

Part I

+ “The Star-Spangled Banner” by John Stafford Smith, arranged by Walter Damrosch

+ “Overture from the Incidental Music to Kotzebue’s King Stephen, Opus 117” by Ludwig van Beethoven

SCRATCHED + “Piano Concerto No. 4 in G Major, Opus 58” by Ludwig van Beethoven, featuring Inna Faliks

   Allegro moderato

   Andante con moto

   Rondo: Vivace

Part II

+ “Symphony No. 2 in D Major, Opus 36” by Ludwig van Beethoven

   Adagio molto – allegro con brio

   Larghetto

   Scherzo Allegro

   Allegro molto

***

Orchestra

First violin: Dmitri Pogorelov, co-concertmaster, Littleton, Colo.; Amy Sims, co-concertmaster, Boston, Mass; Paul Zafer, concertmaster, Concert VII, Wilmette, Ill.; Kirstin Greelaw, Cincinnati, Ohio; Christine Annin, Milwaukee, Wis.; Alex Ayers, Milwaukee, Wis.; Lisa Fako, Chicago, Ill.; Teresa Fream, Glenwood, Ill.; Dorothy Han, Cincinnati, Ohio; Paul Hauer, Milwaukee, Wis.; Ji-Yeon Lee, Green Bay, Wis.; Grace Kim, Grand Rapids, Mich.; Annalise Kowert, Nashville, Tenn.; Betty Lewis, Wilmette, Ill.; Carmen Llop-Kassinger, Chicago, Ill.; Jerry Loughney, Wauwatosa, Wis.; Sarah Page, Nashville, Tenn.; Zachary Ragent, Miami Beach, Fla.; Danielle Ray, Evanston, Ill.; David Rubin, Boston, Mass.; Luis Angel Salazar, Miami Beach, Fla.; Matthew Vera, Boston, Mass.; Alexander Zhuk, Miami Beach, Fla.

Viola: Joan DerHovsepian, principal, Houston, Texas; Judith Ablon, Nashville, Tenn.; Jonas Benson, St. Petersburg, Fla.; Thomas Rex Kluge, Omaha, Neb.; Claudia Lasareff-Mirionoff, Chicago, Ill.; Suzanne LeFevre, Houston, Texas; Charlotte Malin, Chatham, N.Y.; Ellen Caruso Olson, Jacksonville, Fla.; Wendy Richman, Santa Clarita, Calif.

Cello: Paul V. Ledwon, principal, Omaha, Neb.; Victor Huls, Miami Beach, Fla.; Amy Johnson Wensink, Boston, Mass.; Andrew Laven, Grand Rapids, Mich.; Stephanie March, Sioux City, Iowa; Linda Minke, Jacksonville, Fla.; Freya Oberle Samuels, Pittsburgh, Pa.

Bass: John Pellegrino, principal, Columbus, Ohio; Patrick Bilanchone, Jacksonville, Fla.; Erik Gronfor, Houston, Texas; Jena Hueber, Columbus, Ohio; C. Michael Roberts, Cincinnati, Ohio

Flute: Susanna Self, principal, Lubbock, Texas; Helen Blackburn, Dallas, Texas; Janice MacDonald, Chicago, Ill.

Oboe: Eric Olson, principal, Jacksonville, Fla.; Leanna Booze Renfro, Little Rock, Ark.; Sarah Bowman Peterson, Grand Rapids, Mich.; Rogene Russell, Dallas, Texas

Clarinet: Ralph Skiano, principal, Detroit, Mich.; David Bell, Baileys Harbor, Wis.; Lisa Bellino, Poughkeepsie, N.Y.; Leslie Grimm, Stevensville, Mich.; Campbell MacDonald, Fort Wayne, Ind.

Bassoon: Samuel Banks, co-principal, Toronto, Canada; Michael Kroth, co-principal, East Lansing, Mich.; Peter Brusen, Chicago, Ill.; Christian Green, Ann Arbor, Mich.

Horn: Richard Britsch, principal, Grand Rapids, Mich.; Leslie Norton, Nashville, Tenn.; Erich Peterson, Grand Rapids, Mich.; Corbin Wagner, East Lansing, Mich.; Valerie Whitney, Vancouver, B.C.

Trumpet: David Cohen, principal, Milwaukee, Wis.; Bruce Briney, Macomb, Ill.; Daniel Grantham, Cincinnati, Ohio

Trombone: Paul Bellino, principal, Poughkeepsie, N.Y.; Terry Leahy, Fort Collins, Colo.; Bradley Ward, East Windsor, N.J.

Tuba: Charles Schuchat, Chicago, Ill.

Timpani: William Wiggins, Nashville, Tenn.; Douglas Howard, Dallas, Texas

Percussion: Douglas Howard, principal, Dallas, Texas; Tim Feeney, Santa Clara, Calif.; Christopher Norton, Nashville, Tenn.; Paul Ristau, Sister Bay, Wis.

Harp: Elizabeth Motter, Cincinnati, Ohio

Keyboard: Christi Muse Zuniga, Omaha, Neb.

***

REST OF SEASON: “A Debut of Distinction,” Aug. 4; “Bold and Brilliant,” Aug 6; “Virtuosity,” Aug. 9; “Goodyear Goes Gershwin,” Aug 11; “The Three B’s,” Aug. 13; “Love and War,” Aug. 16; “A Heroic Return,” Aug. 18; “Nordic Greats,” Aug. 20.

Mural in Door Community Auditorium lobby: “Door County/The Land.” (Warren Gerds)

THE VENUE: The 725-seat Door Community Auditorium features wood elements (for acoustics) surrounding its focal 60 by 24-foot proscenium (straight-front) stage. Designed by Sherrill Myers and Scott Georgeson of the Milwaukee architectural firm Beckley/Myers, the auditorium opened in 1991. Design influences include Door County’s natural beauty and heritage. Located at 3926 State Highway 42 (on a curve just north of Fish Creek’s Main Street), the auditorium serves the Gibraltar School District and hosts professional performances such as the respected Peninsula Music Festival and many of the nation’s top-shelf performance artists. In the auditorium design, the architects chose to emphasize open space, exposed steel and wood beams and simplicity of shapes. For orchestra concerts, the stage is lined with wood; panels are squares within larger squares. The roof interior is exposed wood, an acoustical touch. Balcony and box-seat areas are faced with plaster surfaces of a red hue, and the aura is like that of decks on a passenger ship, only inside. The hall’s seats are padded with wood backs. The lobby features two murals that represent the spirit of the peninsula, “Door County/The Water” and “Door County/The Land.”