Thursday August 6, 1953 marked the first concert of the Peninsula Music Festival. In 1951, the Festival was just an idea. Thor Johnson, founder and conductor of the Festival, had a dream of organizing a festival built around a chamber orchestra, performing the rich repertory for small orchestra which was seldom heard. He had mentioned this idea to Mr. and Mrs. Lorenz Heise who were extremely interested in the idea due to their love for music. After a few years of committee meetings and budget planning, the organization was formed.
A budget of $10,000 was proposed and needed to be raised before the start of the Festival. Though there were mixed feelings on the likelyhood of raising that amount of money, an eager team of volunteers went "door to door" in search of funds to help start this musical dream. Plans were made to start the first Festival performances in August of 1953 with eight different chamber orchestra performances including a concert especially for young people. Concerts would be performed in the Gibraltar School gymnasium. The first Festival was a success which set the foundation for future development. Thor Johnson along with Lorenz Heise and Kay Wilson of Ephraim were the backbone of the Festival in the early years.
Thor Johnson led the Festival for 22 years, guiding it as it became an established Door County institution, until his death in 1975. The loss of the founder is particularly difficult but new leadership carried on what Thor Johnson had begun. Michael Charry was appointed music director in 1978. After Mr. Charry's resignation in 1982, Byron Hanson became Music Coordinator. As Music Coordinator, Byron brought in many guest conductors to help lead the orchestra.
The Peninsula Music Festival is a fully professional symphony orchestra that presents nine orchestra concerts each August on Wisconsin's Door Peninsula. The orchestra is comprised of musicians from America's finest orchestras and under the baton of Music Director and Conductor Victor Yampolsky. Concerts are performed every Tuesday and Thursday and Saturday at 7:30 p.m. in the state of the art, Door Community Auditorium. This amazing concert hall was built as a performance location for the Festival. This 700 seat hall has perfect acoustics with great sight lines.
From August 7 - 25, 2018 there will be nine different symphonic concerts, All concert include a world class guest artist. Concerts are held on Tuesday, Thursday. and Saturday each week. Tickets start at just $35 and children and students are just $10 - any seat, any concert, any time!!!!
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