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Sunset Concert Cruises News
Throughout the concert season,
news releases regarding the cruises are posted to this web site.
Sunset Concert Cruises have operated out of Gills Rock for the
past 26 years and became popular by providing narrated scenic
cruises with a buffet dinner and top-notch live entertainment
in an informal setting. For many Door County visitors it has
become a tradition to take a concert cruise as part of their
annual Door County vacation.
The very first Sunset Concert Cruise in 1981 was an add-on to
the Door County Folk Festival
www.dcff.net and was meant to be only a one-time event.
However, the idea of "dinner and music on a boat" quickly
developed into a viable Door County business. It also became a
welcome addition to the Door County entertainment scene
enjoyed annually by thousands of Door County visitors as well
as local residents.
Since 1981 Gerhard Bernhard has had a joint venture with
Captain Charlie Voight of Gills Rock whose boats were used for
these excursions. After nearly 850 cruises and serving over
80,000 guests, both talked about retiring from the concert
cruises. At first they were going to retire after the 2005
season. When a rumor of retirement floated in the air, they
received many calls and emails from people urging them to do
the dinner/concert cruises at least for one more season.
Bernhard and Voight decided to do another season for 2006 but
with a reduced schedule. Definite plans were made to retire at
the end of the 2006 season.
changed, at least for Bernhard and his wife Grace, when they
were contacted by Dan Mathein, coordinator of the new boat
service between Sturgeon Bay and Marinette. Mathein found out
about the concert cruise project and expressed interest in
possibly working together. The two parties negotiated terms
for a new joint venture, in which Sunset Concert Cruises will
plan, promote and manage the cruises, and the Spirit of
LaSalle Company will provide and run the boat out of Sturgeon
Bay. Bernhard: "Many of our loyal customers will be happy that
we are back in business, and we are excited about having a new
Arrangements have been worked out with the Stone Harbor Resort
to cater a fine buffet dinner which will be served aboard
during the first hour of the cruise.
Bernhard: "Cruising out of Sturgeon Bay has at least one
distinct advantage over Gills Rock. The canal will allow us to
cruise either on Green Bay or the Lake Michigan side,
whichever has calm waters on a given evening. Canceling a
cruise due to high winds and waves was a challenge we often
faced in Gills Rock. Since we had to make a decision
concerning going out or canceling at least five hours before
departure, we occasionally made a bad decision which always
proved to be costly and frustrating."
There will be about 35 Sunset Concert Cruises for the 2007
season starting on Tuesday, June 19 and running through mid
Bernhard: "Since the beginning of our project we have always
taken pride in presenting only top quality musical
entertainment as the main feature of our cruises, and that is
not going to change." Entertainment for this summer will be
provided by several popular bands such as Le Jazz Hot, the
River City Six Dixieland Band, Julian Hagen and Friends,
Blarney of Milwaukee, Todd Buffa Quartet of Green Bay, and
others. More details about the entertainment will be announced
The new Sunset Concert Cruise brochure showing the schedule
will be out late May and displayed throughout the county. It
is also possible to download the brochure from the web
For questions or more information you may call 920-854-2986,
Farewell Concert Monday, August 15, 2005
Triada, the guitar trio formerly known as BG Brothers, will
present a free concert for the Door County community at
Shepherd of the Bay Lutheran Church in Ellison Bay on Monday,
August 15 at 7:30 pm.
It is the brothers' way of saying thank you and good bye to
the people of Door County who have loved and admired them over
the past four summers. They are leaving for Southern
California to continue graduate studies at CSUF (California
State University Fullerton) under the guidance of guitar
master, professor David Grimes with whom they have taken
master classes in Bulgaria.
At the concert the three brothers Nikola, Vasil and Petar
Chekardzhikova will showcase their virtuosity and musicality
with classical and romance favorites along with exciting bossa
novas, ragtimes and light jazz. It is not only a special treat
to listen to the trio's brilliantly performed music, but also
to experience their charming stage presence.
The concert will also include two or three arias performed by
soprano Sofiya Chekardzhikova (wife of Vasil) who majored in
voice and piano in Bulgaria. Earlier this year Sofiya was
chosen for the lead role in Francis Poulenc's opera "Les
Dialogues des Carmélites", a production at CSUF.
Having studied with the very best teachers in Europe, the
three brothers are former members of the guitar quartet "Four
of a Kind", an ensemble which included their equally talented
sister Petya. An extensive schedule of concerts, radio and TV
appearances in Bulgaria led to several concert tours in Europe
under professional management.
In the US Triada has presented concerts throughout the upper
Midwest as well as Colorado, Texas, California and Hawaii. In
Door County the brothers have performed regularly aboard
Sunset Concert Cruises, at Inn At Kristofer's, and given
concerts at Birch Creek Performance Center and at the
Unitarian Universalist Fellowship.
The world renowned, Grammy Award winning Los Angeles Guitar
Quartet recently conducted master classes in West Hollywood in
which Triada participated. These master classes were organized
and sponsored by the Grammy Foundation. Triada participated in
the class with great success, receiving high praise and
compliments from both the teachers and the Grammy officials.
Last January the trio returned briefly to Door County to
record their new CD at Sister Bay's state of the art Allemande
Studio which is operated by Hans Christian, an accomplished
recording engineer. Music critic Erik Eriksson,
publisher/editor of "Northeast Wisconsin Music Review", has
written the "liner notes" for the new CD.
The new mostly classical CD has just been released and will be
available for purchase at the concert. The CD is also sold at
Handverks Music and Harp Center in Sister Bay or by mail
Again, the concert will take place at Shepherd of the Bay
Lutheran Church in Ellison Bay on Monday, August 15 at 7:30
pm. A freewill offering will be taken which will go towards
the trio's educational expenses.
Here are a few notes for the fans of TRIADA (formerly BG
Brothers* ) who have heard the guitar trio perform at venues
in Door County and around the Midwest during the past three
summers. If you wish to read more about their earlier career,
there is a brief history at a website which was part of a
recent California concert performance
* The brothers (Nikola, Vasil and Petar Chekardzhikov) have
taken the new name "TRIADA", a name likely to be more
appropriate than BG Brothers which some people have mistaken
for the pop group "BEE GEES".
Below is a brief update of what has gone on in the lives and
careers of the three Bulgarian brothers since they left Door
County in August of 2004. They left for Southern California to
continue their advanced studies at CSUF (California State
University Fullerton) under the guidance of guitar master
with whom they have already taken master classes in Bulgaria.
After immersing themselves studying a wide range of
music-related subjects and doing many concerts in California,
the brothers returned briefly to Door County over the holidays
for two reasons - to record a new CD and to give a concert.
The concert took place at Shepherd of the Bay Lutheran Church
in Ellison Bay where the trio charmed over 300 fans with
Latin, Spanish and classical music.
The trio decided to record their new CD at the Allemande
Recording Studio in Sister Bay. Studio owner and recording
engineer Hans Christian made his state of the art recording
studio available, and the brothers had productive recording
sessions with Hans. The new CD is scheduled to be released
this summer. Noted music critic Erik Ericksson,
publisher/editor of "Northeast Wisconsin Music Review" has
graciously agreed to write the "liner notes" for the CD. A CD
release concert is intended to be scheduled for this summer in
Door County. If you would like to receive a notice about this
concert date please call 920-854-2986 or email
The three brothers' lives became even more busy with studies,
concerts, other work, etc. after their return to California.
Here are a few items of interest:
The trio is awaiting
completion of the score of a concerto for three guitars and
Symphony orchestra by a famous Bulgarian composer - Rossen
Balkanski. The world premier of this work will be next year by
the Huntington Symphony Orchestra under the direction of Kimo
Furumoto in West Virginia.
Some or all members of the
trio have participated in the world premiere or a variety of
new compositions. Following is a list of pieces recently
February 2005: Fantasia for
three Guitars "Far away from Homeland", a new composition by
the young Bulgarian composer Stanislav Hvartchilkov who is
currently studying guitar at the Royal Academy of
March 2005: Sonata for
Guitar and Flute" by the young Bulgarian composer Vladimir
April 2005: Two pieces for
solo guitar by the American composer Ryan McSweeney.
April 2005: "Love Songs for
a Mediterranean God", consisting of a cycle of twelve songs
for voice, guitar, flute and cello by the American composer
Ken Walicki, a Fulbright Scholar in Germany where he studied
with Karlheinz Stockhausen
. Walicki has also been commissioned to compose for the world
famous Kronos Quartet and other premier ensembles.
April 2005: As members of
the CSUF Guitar Orchestra, the trio traveled to Hawaii for a
seven day concert tour. Members of the trio also participated
at a Guitar Festival in Honolulu, working with the Festival
Orchestra consisting of 45 students from different high
schools and University of Hawaii. The following is an excerpt
of a concert review in the Hawaiian press: "An added treat was
the appearance of "Triada," a brilliant guitar trio composed
of three brothers from Bulgaria, Nikola, Petar and Vasil
Chekardzhikov, who are mainstays of the orchestra as well.
They played some arrangements, showing their grasp of their
musicality and virtuosity". More details and pictures here:
Vasil was chosen to be a
soloist with the CSUF Symphony Orchestra on May 21st 2005.
Among many of the concerts
Triada is giving while in California is a full recital for the
Long Beach Guitar Society.
The world renowned, Grammy
Award winning Los Angeles Guitar Quartet (
www.lagq.com ) recently
conducted master classes at the Gibson and Baldwin Showroom in
West Hollywood in which Triada participated. These master
classes were organized and sponsored by the Grammy Foundation.
The trio participated in the class with great success,
receiving compliments from both the teachers and organizers of
the master classes. A member of LAGQ, Bill Kanengiser, agreed
to coach Triada in the future.
This summer you will be
able to hear Sofiya (Vasil's wife) in different venues in Door
County . Sofiya majored in voice and piano in Bulgaria and
recently was chosen for the lead role in Francis Poulenc's
opera " Les Dialogues des Carmélites", a production at CSUF,
Orange County, CA.
Triada will travel back to
Door County in June to perform this summer at a variety of
venues including nine concerts aboard Sunset Concert Cruises;
details including sound samples of the new cd
If you would like to have
Triada perform at your upcoming event please contact Gerhard
Bernhard at 920-854-2986 or email
More news to come as it
happens. If you would like to receive TRIADA NEWS in the
future, please click below and send this along with your name
and email address:
( The above was compiled
and condensed by Gerhard Bernhard from various emails and
telephone conversations with Vasil! )
from Resorter Reporter 9/16/2004
Two more Cruises with Julian Hagen and Friends
Washington Island entertainer Julian Hagen, along with some of
his musically talented friends, is scheduled for two more
Sunset Concert Cruise perforances aboard the Island Clipper;
dates are Saturday, September 18 and Wednesday, September 22.
This represents a change in entertainment because these two
dates were originally reserved for Le Jazz Hot.
Through his past performances aboard Sunset Concert Cruises,
Julian Hagen has built a loyal following among countless
cruise customers. Attracted by Julian's magnetic personality
and stage presence, fans come back year after year to enjoy
One of Julian's friends is Lynn Gudmundsen who hails from the
Island of Maui. Lynn is a professional violinist but will be
featured as "fiddler extraordinaire" and vocalist in Julian's
band. She performs frequently with big-name bands including
the Willy Nelson Band for which she has "opened" many
Hans Christian, an exceptional performer on bass and cello, is
part of Julian's band this year. Christian's improvisational
skill and musicality is a great addition to the ensemble. He
has performed and recorded music professionally for over 20
years. He tours nationally with his band RASA and is also
active as a music producer and sound engineer at his own
recording studio in Sister Bay.
Completing the quartet will be Ryan Thompson who will add
vocal solos and harmonies on guitar and mandolin. Ryan has
performed and toured with Lee Greenwood and other nationally
known entertainers. He has also worked as studio musician in
Nashville where he put his considerable skills on the
fretboard to good use.
Taking a Sunset Concert Cruise out of Gills Rock has been a
popular way to spend an evening for Door County visitors and
residents alike. A cruise aboard the Island Clipper will
provide a memorable, fun-filled adventure, often complemented
by a spectacular sunset over the waters of Green Bay. The
excursions feature narrated cruising, a buffet supper and
top-notch musical entertainment.
For the remainder of the 2004 season cruises are scheduled for
Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays with September
25 being be the last concert of the season. Find details check
the boxed ad and "To-Do-List" in the calendar of events in the
The three-hour dinner/entertainment cruises leave from the
Gills Rock Harbor at 5:00 pm. Call 854-2986 for further
information or reservations.
Reprint from Resorter Reporter, July 9, 2003
Music from around the world
On Saturday, July 12 at 8:30 pm the Ephraim Village Hall will be the scene of a concert with an international theme presented by the Door County Folk Festival (DCFF). Admission is $12.00. This "Celebrebration of Music from around the World" has a lineup of six groups which will present a variety of ethnic music which by some standards may be considered "slightly out of the mainstream". Here's the lineup of performers for this event:
Mazurka Wojciehowska of Chicago, IL is a vocalist, accordionist and dulcimist who graduated from the American Conservatory of Music with a degree in vocal performance. She has sung with The Lira Ensemble, a professional arts organization promoting Polish song, music and dance; the Chicago Symphony Chorus, and several small independent opera companies. She is a member of the Old Town School of Folk Music’s Global Roots program, bringing Slavic music to Chicago’s inner city public schools and is in the Illinois Arts Council’s Arts Tour Roster as a solo performer. She has been researching and performing Slavic music for over 25 years and her repertoire also includes non Slavic material: Romanian, German, Austrian and Yiddish.
Tri Bratovchedki, of Madison, WI is a trio of Cousins - Nancy Yugo, Debbie Kmetz, Dan Garvin who specialize in Eastern European village music, and have been a popular addition to DCFF. The trio’s singing is characterized by dissonant harmonies and complex rhythms. Themes of love, grief, national pride, folk tales, legends, and deep religious faith give this music an energetic and intense quality. The trio's current repertoire includes Macedonian, Bulgarian, Croatian, Russian, Serbian, Slovak, and Ukrainian songs.
The Silvertones, of Chicago, IL are one of the newest string bands to come out of the "Chicago String Band Tradition". They play an energetic mix of old-timey music with innovative rhythm and musicianship. The band has played for dances in Chicago, Valparaiso, Milwaukee and at the DCFF since 2000.
Ljupco Milenkovski, originally from Dracevo, Macedonia, made and learned to play his first wooden flute as a child. He became an expert on the very difficult to play kaval (open-ended flute) while studying with the famed Macedonian musician, Mile Kolarov. After having mastered playing kaval, he also started learning to play the Gajda, a Balkan bagpipe.
The BG Brothers have been known to Door County residents and visitors through their performing aboard Sunset Concert Cruises, Inn At Kristophers and numerous other events. The classical guitar trio is comprised of three brothers (Nikola, Vasil and Petar Chekardzhikov) from Varna, Bulgaria who are virtuosos as individuals and stunning as an ensemble. All three were trained in classical guitar in Bulgaria and have since conquered American audiences. They have been laureates of over a dozen international guitar competitions and guitar festivals and have performed in over 500 concerts throughout Europe as well as numerous TV and radio appearances. The brothers are graduates of the Dobri Hristov College of Fine Arts in Bulgaria and have acquired a remarkable proficiency in technique, touch and musicianship. Although their standard repertoire consists of classical, Spanish and Latin items, they have mastered traditional and contemporary Bulgarian folk music which they will perform at this concert.
Gerhard Bernhard (recorders ocarinas, folk harp) and Tammy Naze (concert harp) will perform a set of mostly Irish music.
Gerhard is a local Door County musician and entrepreneur who operates Handverks Music & Harp Center and Sunset Concert Cruises and is founder and co-director of the DCFF ( www.dcff.net ), which he runs together with his longtime friend and partner Paul Collins. Although trained in classical music and in traditional instruments (piano, violin), he has gathered a large collection of folk instruments and plays many of them.
Tammy began playing the harp at age 12. She pursued a harp performance degree in college and graduated with a music business degree from DePaul University, Chicago. She resides near Algoma, WI where she teaches private lessons in harp and piano from her studio. Tammy performs regularly with various symphony orchestras in Northeast Wisconsin and has worked solo or as accompanist for many different musicians and venues. She also plays regularly for wedding ceremonies, receptions, church events and special occasions. She is not only a great sight reader but also an enthusiastic performer who is familiar with many different styles of music: Baroque, classical, jazz, folk and pops.
To find out more about the 24th annual Door County Folk Festival please log on to the website at www.dcff.net . There are about 50 different events scheduled for the four day "folk dance" festival, featuring a multitude of activities too numerous to mention here in detail. Most activities are centered around the Sister Bay Village Hall where the opening dance party will start at 8:30 pm Thursday, July 10. Anyone interested in square and round dance workshops is encouraged to attend any of the 8:00 am sessions on Friday, Saturday and Sunday at the Sister Bay Village Hall. These early morning workshops are taught by Paul Collins, well known square dance caller (Chicago) and DCFF co-director.
BG Brothers worth seeing this summer
By Erik Eriksson - Door County Resorter Reporter Friday, May 16, 2003
With a full evening's worth of fine music and astute presentation, the BG Brothers (three young Bulgarian classical guitarists), charmed their audience at the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Door County last Saturday. Originally scheduled for the Door Community Auditorium, the event had to be switched to another venue and concert manager Gerhard Bernhard was pleased to find the Sister Bay facility available and welcoming.
The three brothers, Nikola, Petar and Vasil Chekardzhikov, were trained in classical guitar in their homeland and have since conquered American audiences in Door County and elsewhere in the country. They plan to enter the University of California to study further with guitar master David Grimes, with whom they have already taken master classes in Bulgaria.
The brothers are graduates of the Dobri Hristov College of Fine Arts in their native country and have a remarkable proficiency in
technic, touch and musicianship. Their repertory consists of classical items, most of them transcriptions of works by such composers as Bach,
Vivaldi, Granados, Rodrigo and Villa-Lobos. Adapting complex scores for just three guitars is no simple matter, but the arrangements are full, well-textured and provide an authentic feel. Invariably they are beautifully played, with both lovely sound and lively pacing. Quiet, languid movements hang magically in the air. The brothers are not afraid to play very softly, or use the fullest array of colors.
Last weekend the better part of the program was classical, but other sweetmeats were offered as well. Some Bulgarian folksongs (including a fervent tribute to their hometown), Latin pieces, a go-for-broke
"Volare," and their signature theme "La Bamba" were other welcome components to the evening. They sing on many of the lighter items - with joy and infectious zest that has to bring a smile to any face, theirs included.
Actor Bob Thompson, who knows a thing or two about the subject,spoke out to encourage them to never lose their charm. I think it's a safe bet they won't. This summer, the BG Brothers will be featured regularly on Sunset Concert Cruises. and weekends at the Inn at
Kristofer's. Those who haven't yet heard them should remedy the situation; those who have will certainly continue to hear and applaud them.
New Location for BG Brothers Concert Saturday, May 10th,
The concert by the classical guitar trio, originally scheduled for the Door County Auditorium in Fish Creek, WI, has been rescheduled for Saturday,
May 10th, 8:15 pm at the Unitarian/Universalist Fellowship, 267 Koessl Lane, Sister
Bay. Directions: Take highway 42 north to Sister Bay, turn right at Country Walk Dr (at BP Gas Station), then turn right unto Koessl Rd; church is on your right.
(Click image to enlarge)
The guitar trio is comprised of three brothers (Nikola, Vasil and Petar Chekardzhikovi) from Bulgaria who are virtuosos as individuals and stunning as an ensemble. The brothers, only in their early 20's, have studied their chosen instrument since early childhood and have taken master classes with the very best guitar teachers in Europe and the US.
They have been laureates of over a dozen international guitar competitions and guitar festivals and have performed in over 500 concerts throughout Europe as well as numerous TV and radio appearances. During the early days of their remarkable carrier the brothers, along with their slightly older sister, performed as a quartet known as "Four of a Kind". When only in their early teens the ensemble recorded their first CD while under international management of "Master Productions" in Belgium.
At their concert this Saturday at the Unitarian/Universalist Fellowship the group will present an exciting program of classical, Latin, Spanish, and popular music. A medley of haunting folk songs and dances with unusual, unbalanced rhythms from their native Bulgaria is always a highlight of their performance.
On a recent concert the trio showed their versatility by playing a variety of pieces ranging from a delightful slow movement of a Vivaldi concerto to an exciting version of La Bamba that kept listeners "dancing in their seats".
The Saturday concert will be sponsored by the "Inn At Kristofer's" and "Sunset Concert Cruises", both of Sister Bay. Throughout this summer season the BG Brothers will be performing aboard the Sunset Concert Cruises which will start on June 14th; details to be posted soon at
You can also hear the trio perform on weekends at the Inn At Kristofer's
www.innatkristofers.com from now through the fall. Reservations at the restaurant are recommended by calling 920-854-9419. For question about the Saturday concert or Sunset Concert Cruises call 920-854-2986.