by Allyson Fleck, Executive Director and Assistant Artistic Director, Midsummer’s Music
Please join me in celebrating the first anniversary of the Griffon String Quartet, the resident string quartet of Midsummer’s Music. Hopefully you – or your children – have already met its members at one of the 80 events they’ve already played in area schools, libraries and youth clubs. Members Ryan Louie, cello; Blakeley Menghini, viola; Roy Meyer, violin; and Vinicius Sant’Ana, violin, are extraordinary musicians who are dedicated to music education.
The quartet, formed in September 2018, is quickly establishing itself as one of the most vibrant and engaging quartets of its generation and a groundbreaking project that enriches the lives of children and adults throughout northeastern Wisconsin.
All of the members of the Griffon Quartet have advanced degrees and significant professional experience worldwide as teachers and performers. Quartet members Menghini, Sant’ Ana and Meyer studied with the Pro Arte Quartet, which is well known to our audiences and will return to perform for Midsummer’s Music on Sept. 15. As a unit, the Griffon has already demonstrated a powerful sense of ensemble, passion, commitment and excitement as it works to become an important cultural cornerstone in Wisconsin.
The Griffon String Quartet’s work focuses on the youth of the area, working with many organizations including public schools, libraries, the Boys & Girls Club and the YMCA. Starting this year, it will expand its activities and perform for audiences of all ages, appearing at service clubs, museums and senior centers. The quartet’s work is intended to strengthen and invigorate the musical climate and infrastructure of the area through excellence in performance, youthful vitality, a pioneering spirit and an inexhaustible enthusiasm for spreading the power and spirit of music.
To those of you who may not have heard of the Griffon, I would like to give you some background on how this program evolved.
Founded 29 years ago, Midsummer’s Music has been producing an annual series of more than 40 chamber-music concerts featuring world-class musicians in Door County and beyond. Addressing the need for classical music in the community, Midsummer’s Music also has a mission to demystify chamber music and share it with northeastern Wisconsin during the “off season” by establishing this new program.
Fortune presented itself when the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s graduate quartet in residence, the Hunt Quartet, came to Door County for a Midsummer’s Music performance in 2017. Two members – Menghini and Sant’Ana, who were graduating that year – had hopes to continue their roles as chamber musicians. The timing couldn’t have been more perfect and led to founding the Griffon Quartet. With support from Green Bay Area Public Schools, the Fine Arts Institute at East High, St. Norbert College and private donors, Midsummer’s Music initiated the residency in September 2018.
Naming the quartet was a fun experience. After weighing many options, the Griffon was an obvious choice because Le Griffon – a vessel captained by La Salle – sailed the Great Lakes in the 17th century. Using the name today was a great way to represent the regional connections that the quartet forges through its music. You will see the quartet performing throughout northeastern Wisconsin for a wide variety of audiences, including a program series in October that will feature the works of Schubert and Shostakovich.
When not performing, Menghini enjoys creating amateur art and design; Meyer enjoys following baseball, traveling and hiking; Louie enjoys following the NBA, working out, playing basketball, cooking and collecting rare craft beers; and Sant’Ana enjoys playing ping-pong, soccer, swimming and kayaking.
With the addition of the Griffon Quartet program, Midsummer’s Music is now the only fully professional, continuous, year-round music program in northeastern Wisconsin.
See the list below and visit midsummersmusic.com for details about upcoming concerts.
Griffon String Quartet Concerts and Events
St. Norbert College
Oct. 11, 7:30 pm
Tickets ($12) are available at snc.edu/tickets.
Library Live Concert presented by the Door County/Sturgeon Bay Library
Oct. 12, 1 pm
Green Bay First Presbyterian Concert
Oct. 12, 7 pm
Concert presented by the Green Bay Chamber Music Society
Oct. 13, 6 pm
Einstein Series, Boys & Girls Club of Door County in Sturgeon Bay
Oct. 29, 3:30-4:30 pm
As the executive director and assistant artistic director of Midsummer’s Music and a violist with this amazing chamber ensemble, I can attest to the magic of sharing professional music residencies with our schools and social institutions because I earned my doctor of musical arts degree in viola performance at UW-Madison and was the charter violist of the Hunt Quartet. This graduate string-quartet residency program in Madison performed concerts throughout Wisconsin and made me realize the impact and importance of having thousands of students meet and hear young professionals who play outstanding concerts in their home schools. — Allyson Fleck
Peninsula Arts and Humanities Alliance, which contributes Culture Club throughout the summer season, is a coalition of nonprofit organizations whose purpose is to enhance, promote and advocate the arts, humanities and natural sciences in Door County.