By Paul Schmitt
Midsummer Music Festival will feature four concerts beginning Friday that will give a musical history of three women who faced challenges and triumphs in a music world dominated by men. “Indomitable Spirits will have local actors portraying Melanie “Mel” Bonis, Louise Farrenc, and Amy Cheney Beach, composers from the nineteenth century and the early 20th century. Executive Director of Midsummer Music Russ Warren says the concerts will be both entertaining and educational.
Warren says local actors from the community will portray the three composers. You can find details of the “Indomitable Spirits” concerts and ticket information below.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Midsummer’s Music Presents Indomitable Spirits
Sister Bay, Wis. – June 23, 2017 – Door County’s Midsummer’s Music continues its 2017 festival season with the Indomitable Spirits program, featuring music by three female composers who lived between 1804 and 1944: Mélanie “Mel” Bonis, Louise Farrenc, and Amy Cheney Beach.
Bonis led a double and, most of the time, a troubled life. Much of this was brought on by her parents and by the societal limitations women of that era experienced. She chose to use Mel as her name to hide her gender as a composer. She was a prolific French classical composer, and she wrote more than 300 compositions, including works for piano solo and four hands, organ pieces, chamber music, mélodies, choral music, a mass, and works for orchestra. Midsummer’s ensemble will perform her Suite in E Minor, Op. 59.
Farrenc took up piano at an early age and by 15 was studying composition with Anton Reicha and later with Johan Nepomuk Hummel, two of the most prominent musical names in early nineteenth century Paris. The combination of instruments – flute, oboe, clarinet, bassoon, horn, and piano – in Farrenc’s Sextet in C Minor, Op. 40, had never been done when she composed the piece in 1851-2.
Beach is one of America’s greatest composers. A child prodigy, she began composing music at age four and performing publicly at age seven. She made her piano debut with the Boston Symphony at age 17 playing the Chopin F Minor Concerto. In composition, she was almost completely self-taught, but she had access to all the conventional treatises. She studied the works of many composers, often memorizing them and then writing them down from memory. Beach wrote Quintet in C Minor, Op. 52.
All four concerts of the Indomitable Spirits program will be done in conjunction with the Women’s Fund of Door County, and actors from the community will portray the three composers. Mel Bonis will be portrayed by Sara Oswald, Laura Vlies, and Moriah Grahl, while Lizz Thomas and Donna Johnson take turns as Louise Farrenc, and Claire Morkin will play Amy Cheney Beach. Audiences will learn about the challenges and triumphs that these women faced in a music world dominated by men.
The Indomitable Spirits concerts will be at 7:00 pm June 30 at the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship, 7:30 pm July 1 at Björklunden, 7:00 pm July 7 at St. Luke’s Episcopal Church, and 2:00 pm July 8 at The Clearing Folk School. Tickets are $29 for adults, $10 for students, and children 12 and under are free, and they can be ordered online at midsummersmusic.comor by phone at 920-854-7088.
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. The Festival has drawn on the extraordinary talent of professional musicians and artist/faculty of universities throughout the Midwest. Offering chamber music for winds, strings, and piano performed in intimate and unique settings throughout Door County, venues include art galleries, churches, and private homes. From such masters as Mozart, Schubert, and Dvořák to some lesser-known but very accomplished composers, each concert is an unforgettable musical experience.
The 2017 season runs June 16 – July 23 and August 25 – September 4