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Peninsula Music Festival has five guest conductors in 2020 Symphony

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EPHRAIM – Peninsula Music Festival’s 68th season will be its first in 34 years without Victor Yampolsky at the helm as music director and conductor.

But Executive Director Christoph Ptack believes the five guest conductors stepping onto the podium and taking the baton for next year’s Symphony Series will keep the festival heading in the right direction.

The traditional August nine-concert series was announced recently, as was the festival’s three-concert February Fest Chamber Music Series. Four of the guest conductors will lead two concerts each, while one will conduct one.

The five conductors, in order of their appearances, are:

  • David Danzmayr, chief conductor of the Zagreb (Croatia) Philharmonic Orchestra and Pro Musica Chamber Orchestra in Columbus, Ohio;
  • Ward Stare, music director of the Rochester (New York) Philharmonic Orchestra since 2014;
  • Marcelo Lehninger, music director of the Grand Rapids (Michigan) Symphony;
  • Yaniv Dinur, resident conductor of the Milwaukee Symphony, music director of the New Bedford Symphony and winner of the 2019 Sir Georg Solti Conducting Award;
  • Rune Bergmann, music director of the Calgary Philharmonic and artistic director and chief conductor of the Szczecin (Poland) Philharmonic.

After Yampolsky told the festival last spring he was retiring as music director, Ptack said in an interview with Your Key to the Door Weekly he hoped to bring in guest conductors for the 2020 season to program and lead the concerts, with an eye toward one of them possibly becoming the permanent director in the future. That would give Ptack and others in the organization the chance to experience how well the conductors fit with them and interact with concert audiences.

Ptack said a seven-person search committee formed in April, which includes three festival orchestra musicians, put together a job description and got out the word about the opening. About 125 applicants responded, and Ptack and the three orchestra members winnowed down the list.

“When the four of us met, there wasn’t one person on the list we disagreed about, which was affirming to me,” Ptack said.

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From there, the full committee worked its way to the five who are conducting next season’s concerts. Ptack said each one is well-respected and accomplished in the music business and accomplished nationally and internationally. Besides their main directing positions listed above, all have made guest appearances with orchestras and chamber groups nationally and around the world.

“The way I look at it is, we identified five guest conductors we think would be good fits for the organization,” Ptack said.

The five guests also programmed the concerts they’ll conduct, with Ptack offering insights on music that would appeal to the festival’s usual mix of resident and tourist audiences.

“The programs were put together by making suggestions about repertoire I felt would be of interest to present, in addition to things they felt would be of interest,” Ptack said. “I made it clear my number-one goal is that they be happy about what they’re presenting.”

While it’s possible one of the five will become Pthe festival’s next music director, Ptack said he doesn’t look at the coming season as a competition or audition. The important thing for Ptack is finding a candidate who will be the right fit for both the orchestra and the overall festival organization.

With that in mind, Ptack said he’s excited about the results of the director search and the programs festival  patrons will see and hear next August, which include return appearances by guest piano soloists Inna Faliks (on Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 4 in the Aug. 4 season opener) and Stewart Goodyear (on George Gershwin’s Piano Concerto).

“This has been a very inspiring process,” Ptack said, “one I’m very proud of. I think everyone is extremely excited for the future of the organization.”


The Peninsula Music Festival 2020 Symphony Series:

Tuesday, Aug. 4: “Beethoven’s 250th Birthday Celebration!” David Danzmayr, guest conductor; Inna Faliks, piano: “Star-Spangled Banner”; and Beethoven’s Overture to “King Stephen,” Op. 117 in E-flat Major; Piano Concerto No. 4, Op. 58 in G Major; and Symphony No. 2, Op. 36 in D Major.

Thursday, Aug, 6: “A Debut of Distinction,” Danzmayr, guest conductor; Angelo Xiang Yu, violin: Saint-Säens’ Violin Concerto No. 3, Op. 61 in B minor; and Bruckner’s Symphony No. 4, “Romantic,” in E-flat minor.

Saturday, Aug. 8: “Bold and Brilliant,” Ward Stare, guest conductor; Antonio Wu, piano: R. Strauss’ “Don Juan,” Op. 20; Mendelssohn’s Capriccio Brillante, Op. 22 in B minor and Incidental Music from “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”; and Brahms’ Symphony No. 4, Op. 98 in E minor.

Tuesday, Aug. 11: “Virtuosity,” Stare, guest conductor; Susanna Self, flute; Simone Porter, violin: Beethoven’s Overture to “The Creatures of Prometheus,” Op. 43; Quantz’s Concerto for Flute in G Major; Haydn’s Symphony No. 82, “The Bear,” in C Major; and Vivaldi’s “The Four Seasons.”

Thursday, Aug. 13: “Goodyear Goes Gershwin,” Marcelo Lehninger, guest conductor; Stewart Goodyear, piano: Bernstein’s Overture to “Candide”; George Gershwin’s Piano Concerto in F Major; and Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 5, Op. 64 in E minor.

Saturday, Aug. 15: “The Three B’s,” Lehninger, guest conductor; Rachel Barton Pine, violin: Brahms’ “Tragic” Overture, Op. 81; Bruch’s Violin Concerto No. 1, Op. 26 in G minor; and Beethoven’s Symphony No. 5, Op. 67 in C minor.

Tuesday, Aug. 18: “Love and War,” Yaniv Dinur, guest conductor; Oliver Herbert, cello: Tchaikovsky’s “Romeo and Juliet”; Shostakovich’s Cello Concerto No. 1, Op. 107 in E-flat Major; and Brahms’ Symphony No. 2, Op. 73 in D Major.

Thursday, Aug. 20: “A Heroic Return,” Rune Bergmann, guest conductor; Bella Hristova, violin: Mendelssohn’s “Fair Melusina” Overture, Op. 32, and Concerto for Violin, Op. 64 in E minor; and Beethoven’s Symphony No. 3, “Eroica,” Op. 55 in E-flat Major.

Saturday, Aug. 22: “Nordic Greats!” Bergmann, guest conductor; Peter Jablonski, piano: Sibelius’ “Finlandia,” Op. 26; Grieg’s Piano Concerto, Op. 16 in A minor; and Nielsen’s Symphony No. 4, “The Inextinguishable,” Op. 29.

Tickets are now on sale. All concerts are at Door Community Auditorium, 3926 State 42, Fish Creek. Tickets are $35 to $75 for adults, $10 students and children.

PMF also announced the schedule for its February Fest Chamber Music Series. Concerts (all at 2 p.m. Saturdays at Shepherd of the Bay Lutheran Church, Ellison Bay) are Feb. 8 with PMF Orchestra Principal Oboe Erick Olson. PMF violist Ellen Caruso Olson and guest pianist Sara Bong; Feb. 15 with PMF Principal Flutist Susanna Self and guest pianist Susan Wenckus; and Feb. 22 with PMF violinist Yoohi Choi and guest musicians Andrew Byun, cello, and Jyejin Joo, who was a guest pianist in the 2019 Symphony Series.

General admission for the February concerts is $25 adults, $10 students, $60 for all three concerts. Tickets are not sold; those making reservations will have their names on a list at the door.

For tickets, reservations or more information, call 920-854-4060 or visit

Contact Christopher Clough at 920-741-7952, 920-562-8900 or

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