LAKESHORE REGIONAL NEWS: Door County, Kewaunee County, Manitowoc County, and Sheboygan County

Warren Gerds/Critic at Large: Next sets of chamber music concerts scheduled in Door County

Critic At Large

Midsummer's Music

Clockwise from upper left are composers Sergei Lyapunov, Johann Baptist Vanhal, Ludwig van Beethoven and Will Healy, singer Mikaela Bennett and composer William Grant Still. (Warren Gerds amalgamation)

SISTER BAY, Wis. (WFRV) – Two more programs are on their way as Door County’s Midsummer’s Music continues its expanded reach of concert fare and performance venues.

According to press releases: Titled “Creative Crisis,” the first set of concerts will be performed July 2 through Thursday, July 6.

Explored will be works of three classical composers who had great struggles with creative crises that ultimately guided their composition styles.

To illustrate the aura of the concerts, Midsummer’s Music quotes John F. Kennedy: “When written in Chinese, the word ‘crisis’ is composed of two characters – one represents danger, and the other represents opportunity.”

+ At the time when Ludwig van Beethoven had received approval of the nobility with works like the “Serenade for Flute, Violin, and Viola,” his deafness was becoming painfully clear. He wrote the “Heiligenstadt Testament,” a heart-rending document in which he rails against infirmity and the cruelty it imposes on someone of his extraordinary talent. This Midsummer’s Music program features his “Symphony No. 2 in D Major, Opus 36” for violin, cello and piano, marking a significant creative embarkation that coincided with his progressing aural deterioration.

+ Johann Baptist Vanhal lived in Vienna at the same time as Beethoven. By the middle of the 1770s, he had written more than 70 symphonies, but times and tastes were changing, and he chose to change his composition style, in turn. Largely abandoning the symphony form, he wrote more than 100 string quartets and 48 masses, along with numerous concertos. A trio for violin, viola and bass, his “Divertimento in G Major, W.Vlb:13,” was written to charm the Viennese of the time and is lively and dancelike in character throughout.

+ Russian Sergei Lyapunov wrote his only chamber music composition – “Sextet in B-flat Minor, Opus 63” for piano, two violins, viola, cello and bass – at the age of 46. It is exceedingly rare for any composer to write just one work in a genre – and then to have that one work be one of his best. Lyapunov had a distinguished career as a virtuoso pianist and conductor, and he was extremely interested in Russian folklore. Like Vahnal in Vienna, the times and tastes in Russia were changing, and a new Russian school of music exemplified by Stravinsky emerged. Lyapunov chose not to pursue the new style and continued to promote the use of Russian folklore and the more traditional music forms found in Brahms and Schumann.

The “Creative Crisis” program will be performed July 2 at 7 p.m. at the Kress Pavilion in Egg Harbor; July 3 at 7 p.m. at Hope United Church of Christ in Sturgeon Bay; and July 6 at 7 p.m. at the Door Community Auditorium in Fish Creek.

Midsummer’s Music musicians include David Perry and Ann Palen, violins, Allyson Fleck, viola, James Waldo, cello, Drew Banzhaf, bass, and Jeffrey Panko, piano.


Titled “Kreutzer Connotations,” the next set of concerts is July 9 to 11.

+ The program includes Ludwig van Beethoven’s “Kreutzer Sonata” – one of the most famous violin sonatas – “Danzas de Panama” by African American composer William Grant Still, and the world premiere of “Transit” by Midsummer’s Music’s 2021 Composer-in-Residence Will Healy, featuring celebrated soprano Mikaela Bennett.

Performances are July 9 at 7 p.m. at the Kress Pavilion in Egg Harbor; July 10 at 7 p.m. at the Old Gibraltar Town Hall in Fish Creek; and July 11 at 4 p.m. at Woodwalk Gallery in Egg Harbor.

In addition to Mikaela Bennett, musicians include David Perry and Ann Palen, violins, Allyson Fleck, viola, and James Waldo, cello.

Bennett is a graduate of The Juilliard School and is celebrated as a singer and actress for her work on stage and in the concert hall. She most recently appeared as a featured soloist with the Los Angeles Philharmonic under Gustavo Dudamel performing “Aurora” by Wayne Shorter. In 2019, Bennet earned a Lincoln Center Award for Emerging Artists, made her debut at Lyric Opera of Chicago playing Maria in “West Side Story,” starred in the title role in Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II’s “Cinderella” at the MUNY, returned to the BBC Proms with the John Wilson Orchestra performing music from the Warner Bros. film studio, and sang the role of Mary Wintergreen in MasterVoices’ production of George Gershwin’s “Let ’Em Eat Cake” at Carnegie Hall.

Bennett made her professional debut starring as Penelope in “The Golden Apple” at City Center Encores! She originated the role of Norma in the new off-Broadway musical “Renascence” and originated the title role of Acquanetta in a new opera by Michael Gordon and directed by Daniel Fish.

Bennett made her BBC Proms debut at London’s Royal Albert Hall starring as Maria in the John Wilson Orchestra’s production of “West Side Story,” and she made her debute with the New York Philharmonic under Leonard Slatkin and the Philadelphia Orchestra under Yannick Nézet-Séguin. Mikaela performed as a featured soloist in “Bernstein on Broadway” at the Kennedy Center under Rob Fisher. She collaborated multiple times with conductor Ted Sperling, most recently at Carnegie Hall performing Gershwin and as the soprano soloist in George Frideric Händel’s “Israel in Egypt” with Orchestra of St Luke’s. She appeared with the San Francisco Symphony, Los Angeles Philharmonic and New World Symphony under Michael Tilson Thomas for the world premiere of “Four Preludes on Playthings of the Wind.”


“Coffee Talks” – free, informal presentations on music topics by Midsummer’s Music musicians and friends – resume starting July 3 at 10 a.m. with Jacob Beranek presenting “American Classical Music Since 1941: A Sampling of 80 Years of Art” at SWY231 in Sturgeon Bay. Will Healy, Midsummer’s 2021 Composer-in-Residence, will speak at the Kress Pavilion in Egg Harbor at 10 a.m. July 10, and Paul Frucht, 2021 Composer-in-Residence Fellow, will present “Writing Music for Our Time” at SWY231 at 10 a.m. July 17.

Reservations for all concerts and “Coffee Talks” must be made at least 24 hours in advance. Before making plans or purchasing tickets, concertgoers should review Midsummer’s COVID-19 policy the website

Midsummer’s Music was co-founded in 1990 by Jim and Jean Berkenstock, long-time Door County summer residents and principal orchestral players with the Lyric Opera of Chicago.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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