Crisis Averted or My Job is Never Dull

Inna Faliks, pianist for the August 18 concert, will be two-and-a-half weeks from her pregnancy due date at the time of her performance with the Peninsula Music Festival. Should the baby come early, a back-up plan is in place for her absence. Photo by Mark Gurevich.

Two o’clock in the afternoon on Monday, August 1, 2011 is the day my blood pressure goes down. That may seem weird to many of you familiar with the Peninsula Music Festival (PMF) schedule because you know that there are nine concerts and many rehearsals to take place in the three weeks that follow August 1.

But for me, two o’clock in the afternoon on Monday, August 1, 2011 is the date and time of the very first rehearsal of the 59th season. Each year, at the first rehearsal, when Maestro Yampolsky gives the down beat and the first notes float through the auditorium, I breath a huge sigh of relief, my heart slows, and my blood pressure goes down.

That date, that time, those sounds mean that 65 musicians, two conductors, one guest soloist, a very expensive Steinway piano, a set of timpani, and a harp have all arrived safely at the Door Community Auditorium in Fish Creek.

From the moment the musicians are contracted and guest artists are booked it is a waiting game. Waiting for everything that can and will go wrong. We contract the orchestra in December and guest artists often a year in advance. It is amazing all that can take place in the time between a signed contract and the concert date. Parents, children, and pets get ill; hometowns are hit with severe weather; home orchestras go on strike, or go on summer tour, or require an early return; weddings, funerals, graduations, first year of college, pregnancies, births and so much more take place causing an orchestra member to take a leave of absence, a guest artist to cancel or a need for “Plan B” to be used.

Sometimes a crisis can be devastating. I remember when a VISA could not be secured for the PMF’s concertmaster and it took three people to replace him on short notice and a soloist was not secured until the week before the scheduled performance. The redirected flight of a violinist resulted in a missed rehearsal for a very difficult concerto. At boarding, a viola soloist was told that he could not board with his instrument causing a need for a last minute car rental, a long drive and an exhausted soloist. With short rehearsal times, challenging repertoire and a budget with no wiggle room, these last minute wrenches cause havoc that stresses even the most seasoned professionals.

With the remote nature of our festival and its tight schedule, we live by “Plan B.”

When featured soloist Ilya Kaler couldn’t make his August 16 appearance with Peninsula Music Festival, Executive Director Sharon Grutzmacher started in on Plan B: Caroline Goulding, 18-year-old Grammy nominee and the 2011 winner of the prestigious Avery Fisher Career Grant, will fill the role at this year’s festival. Photo by Lisa Marie Mazzucco.

When Inna Faliks, pianist for the August 18 concert, called to tell me she was pregnant, I was excited for her and touched that she would share this news with me. Then I realized that she would be two and a half weeks from her due date at the time of her performance. First babies are usually late, but since my first child was two and half weeks early, I opted for “Plan B.” I have a substitute pianist standing by in case Ms. Faliks cannot travel, and I even have a ‘Plan C’ which includes having the stage crew brush up on how to deliver a baby as well as an orchestral work in case we have a baby born backstage.

Sometimes a crisis can work in your favor. Consider the call last week from one of our concertmaster candidates. Due to the declining health of his mother, Ilya Kaler has had to cancel his appearance with us. Mr. Kaler would have been the concertmaster for week three of the festival and the featured soloist on Tuesday, August 16 performing the Tchaikovsky Violin Concerto. With a month until the festival opens, this is hardly a crisis to send my blood pressure rising and thankfully, I had just attended the League of American Orchestras convention in Minneapolis where I met with numerous agents to discuss up and coming soloists for 2013 and beyond. Right at the top of my pile is the young violinist Caroline Goulding, and I mean young, just eighteen and already a Grammy nominee and the 2011 winner of the prestigious Avery Fisher Career Grant. An inquiry by email, a few phone calls to negotiate fee and Caroline Goulding will make her debut with the Peninsula Music Festival on Tuesday, August 16. More importantly, you read it here first. So the Pulse has the scoop on this young award-winning, Grammy nominee and if you want to hear her, then give us a call and mention the word “crisis” and we will give you $5 off each ticket!

This is not the end of the “everything that can go wrong will go wrong” saga of the Peninsula Music Festival. These are the things that keep the job interesting and go with the territory. The one thing I do know is that when I hear those first notes on Monday, August 1 at 2 pm at least I will know that many crises have been averted, but I may put a bassinet backstage in case a baby decides to make an appearance on August 18. Stay tuned!

Peninsula Arts and Humanities Alliance, Inc., is a coalition of non-profit organizations whose purpose is to enhance, promote and advocate the arts, humanities and natural sciences in Door County.

The 59th Season of the Peninsula Music Festival opens on Tuesday, August 2 and runs through Saturday, August 20. The festival presents nine different concerts in three weeks every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday.

Concerts are held at the Door Community Auditorium in Fish Creek – indoors, air conditioned, reserved seats. The PMF’s administrative/box office is at 3045 Cedar Street in Ephraim (right next to the Ephraim post office). Tickets are available for all concerts and start at $30. Students and children are just $10.

For more information call 920.854.4060 or visit