Area chamber music organization adds to goals with composers

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SISTER BAY, Wis. (WFRV) – Midsummer’s Music announced a new program to expand on its composer-in-residence program instituted in 2016.

According to a press release: The Emerging Composers Initiative adds two program fellows to its composer-in-residence position. All three appointees will present new works, educate audiences and participate in outreach engagements during Midsummer’s Music 2021 season.

The composers-in-residence’s work will be a new commission by Midsummer’s Music, while the fellows will present recent works from their portfolios.

The initiative stems from the recent appointment of Will Healy as the chamber music organization’s composer-in-residence for 2021.

Healy is a New York-based composer and pianist and recent graduate of The Juilliard School. Healy is artistic director of ShoutHouse, a collective of hip-hop, jazz and classical musicians.

During the process of Healy’s selection, members of the selection committee “were moved by the wonderful quality of applicants,” said Jim Berkenstock, artistic director of Midsummer’s Music. “We decided to expand our program.”

Said Allyson Fleck, music executive director and assistant artistic director, “We thought there might be only a handful of applicants. I guess we did a good job of messaging, because over 140 composers applied.”

Also on the selection committee are David Utzinger, a resident of Sturgeon Bay who holds a Ph.D. in composition from UCLA and serves on the Midsummer’s Music board, and Jacob Beranek, who will continue with the program in the role of program advisor following his four years as its first composer-in-residence.

Each of the 140 applicants provided written scores and sound recordings of three recent works, along with program notes and biographies.

“After each committee member reviewed the materials for a quarter of the prospects and chose the top six from their group, we collectively narrowed the pool down to three, but then it got really difficult,” said Berkenstock. “That’s when we developed the idea of expanding our program to include not only a composer-in-residence, but to add two ‘fellows’ to our ranks.”

The two Emerging Composers Initiative fellows are Paul Frucht of New York and Quinn Mason of Dallas.

Frucht holds a D.M.A. and M.M. in composition from The Juilliard School and a B.A. from New York University, where he currently serves as an adjunct professor.

Quinn Mason has studied at Richland College in Dallas, Texas Christian University and Southern Methodist University.

Healy’s 40-minute song cycle for rappers, soloists and chamber orchestra, “Cityscapes,” was released on New Amsterdam Records in 2019. Recent projects include commissions for Copland House and Kaleidoscope Chamber Orchestra, arranging music for the World Peace Forum and the New York Philharmonic and writing a full-length musical that was recorded remotely by a cast of 30 musicians.

Paul Frucht has been commissioned and performed by the Minnesota Orchestra, American Composers Orchestra, Juilliard Orchestra, Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra, San Diego Symphony, American Modern Ensemble, Ulysses Quartet, Buffalo Chamber Music Society, Music Mountain Festival and the New York City Ballet Choreographic Institute, among others.

Quinn Mason’s music has been performed in concert by the Dallas Symphony Orchestra, Utah Symphony Orchestra, South Bend Symphony Orchestra, West Virginia Symphony Orchestra, New England Conservatory Philharmonia, Orchestra Seattle, Mission Chamber Orchestra, loadbang, Voices of Change, Atlantic Brass Quintet, UT Arlington Saxophone quartet, the Cézanne, Julius and Baumer string quartets and concert bands throughout the United States and Canada.

Jacob Beranek graduates Vanderbilt University this spring and will then head to graduate school. He will continue his relationship with Midsummer’s Music as advisor to the Emerging Composers Initiative and is expected to collaborate during the coming year with projects involving the Griffon String Quartet, the ensemble of young professionals sponsored by Midsummer’s Music, Fine Arts Institute at East High (Green Bay) and St. Norbert College.

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.

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