Lawrence Chamber Music Festival performance in Memorial Chapel
The Lawrence Chamber Music Festival will partner with Mile of Music. (Photo by Danny Damiani)

Two new summer music programs at Lawrence University are launching in the coming days, both delivering immersive training to promising young musicians while providing live music opportunities in Appleton.

The Lawrence Summer Music Institute, designed this year for advanced high school pianists and string players, will be held on campus July 14-21. It will welcome nearly 20 musicians for a week-long program focused on musical development through private lessons, workshops, chamber music coaching, and public performances, all under the guidance of Lawrence Conservatory of Music faculty. It includes two concerts that are free and open to the public: A LSMI Faculty Concert at 7 p.m. July 17 in Harper Hall (inside the Music-Drama Center), and a LSMI Student Concert at 6 p.m. July 19, also in Harper Hall. A “Community Day” on July 20 will have students performing at Eagle Point Senior Living and other venues in the Fox Cities.

That will be followed by the Lawrence Chamber Music Festival, designed for advanced instrumentalists ages 18 and over. It is set for July 21-Aug. 4, with more than 40 young adult musicians from all over the world gathering for two weeks of chamber music workshops and high-level public performances under the tutelage of Conservatory faculty and special guest artists. It includes multiple public performances, including at the popular Mile of Music festival.

Michael Mizrahi, the Frank C. Shattuck Professor of Music and director of Lawrence Summer Music Programs, said both programs will become annual staples of the Appleton summer music scene.

The summer is a beautiful time here and we have this great facility with the Conservatory and the performance halls,” Mizrahi said. “It really is an opportunity to create a vibrant summer music program.”

Michael Mizrahi celebrates contemporary composers with new solo piano release

Summer Music Institute: ‘A transformative experience’

The Lawrence Summer Music Institute gives the high school participants an opportunity to work closely with Conservatory faculty, among them: violinist Samantha George, pianist Catherine Kautsky, violist Matthew Michelic, bassist Mark Urness, cellist Taide Prieto, and Mizrahi, a pianist.

“It’s an opportunity for the students to get to know our faculty, first of all,” Mizrahi said. “They’ll get to know our campus, sleep in the residence halls, eat in our dining hall. They’re really excited about those things. And they get to explore music in a way that for most of them will be the first time they’ve spent a solid week 24-7 on music. For many it’ll be a transformative experience. Some may be playing chamber music for the first time.”

The students will begin rehearsing with their groups on Monday, all working toward the July 19 performance.

“A lot of them will come in at the beginning of the week thinking, 'I don’t know if I can do it in five days,' and then they all do it, and it’s a confidence builder,” Mizrahi said. “They’ll get lessons with our faculty to work on technique, tips on how to prepare an audition, learn about how to rehearse in a group.”

Chamber Music Festival: Exciting collaborations

The Lawrence Chamber Music Festival, meanwhile, will feature musicians who are more advanced, many of them preparing for or in the early stages of music careers.

“They’ll be in chamber groups but learning a lot more repertoire,” Mizrahi said. “They’ll have sessions on how to build your portfolio, how to engage with presenters, how to speak from the stage, how to work with donors—all the things that go into being an entrepreneurial musician and building a career.”

The first week of the two-week festival will include five performances free and open to the public. The second half of the two-week festival will revolve around collaborations with Mile of Music, the all-original music festival that takes over downtown Appleton Aug. 1-4. See details and concert information here.

Four Mile of Music artists—Julia Blair ’11, Julie Williams, Ben Mulwana, and Pegasis—will be partnered with groups of Lawrence Chamber Music Festival participants. They will arrange some of their music with the chamber musicians and do some collaborative songwriting, all in preparing for Mile of Music performances.

“We have college and post-college students thinking, ‘I’ve never done this before; I don’t know how to play at a Mile of Music-style show with original material,’” Mizrahi said. “By the end of two weeks, they’ve got some stuff, they’ve arranged it. Maybe it’s three trombones, two pianos, violin, cello, clarinet, and bassoon, and they need to arrange for that. The songwriter has a backup orchestra for their stuff, which is really exciting for them.”

“This is a way to deepen ties with Appleton. It’s a way to recruit students. It’s a way to involve students in our new business program who are doing the arts administration track. And it’s a way to share live music with the community.”

Michael Mizrahi

Recent partnerships between Lawrence and Mile of Music have gotten rave reviews.

“They’ve been supportive of us coming to them with a 50-minute set,” Mizrahi said of Mile of Music organizers. “We’ll work with an artist like Ben Mulwana, and we’ll do two of his songs and arrange things for 15 minutes and then we’re going to bring in our stuff. Some old music, some contemporary classical music, and the Mile of Music audiences are so open-minded. (Mile of Music organizers) Dave Willems and Cory Chisel have created that mindset. And so, we’ll have 500 people in Memorial Chapel. Yes, they’re going to hear Ben Mulwana sing and hear the backup group, but then they’re going to hear the students play some Mozart and hear a curated set.”

It's an eye-opener for the students as they tread into unfamiliar territory. It’s a gift to the audience as they take in vibrant, intimate music from talented young musicians, all free of charge.

“The students have to plan it to the minute, they have to do their transitions, they have to talk about the pieces, they have to banter with the audience,” Mizrahi said. “That is all stuff younger musicians might be a little scared to do. And they do it in front of 500 people in the Chapel or in a packed Copper Rock. It’s this beautiful moment where we get to put them out there at the end of two weeks. ‘Here you are, out in the world playing a major music festival.’ It’s really awesome.”

Faculty and guest artists for the Chamber Music Festival include Mizrahi, trumpet player Brandon Ridenour (Founders), violinist Ben Russell (Founders), percussionist Jean Carlo Ureña González, flutist Erin Lesser, trombonist Tim Albright, clarinetist Andy Hudson, flutist Leo Sussman, cellist Caitlin Sullivan, and violinist Teagan Faran.

Check here for updates on the music performances, including at Mile of Music.

Mizrahi called the debut of the two summer music festivals a significant moment for Lawrence and the Fox Cities.

“This is a blueprint for solid summer programming,” he said. “This is a way to deepen ties with Appleton. It’s a way to recruit students. It’s a way to involve students in our new business program who are doing the arts administration track. And it’s a way to share live music with the community.”

Integrate intellectual and musical virtuosity in a supportive, creative community that will empower you to find your musical path.