The 2018 Gesher Music Festival

Learn more about the Festival from Artistic Director Sara Sitzer

 Sara Sitzer, Artistic Director

Sara Sitzer, Artistic Director

The music that has shaped a culture, protested regimes, and illuminated the underrepresented: the Gesher Music Festival explores these themes through the prism of classical chamber music in its upcoming eighth season, VOICES RISING.

Greetings, and welcome to the eighth annual Gesher Music Festival! In thinking this year about the music that could represent the theme, VOICES RISING, I had two thoughts in mind: a celebration of the human voice and the music written for it, and the way that composers have expressed their own voices through their music.

As St. Louis celebrates 100 years of Muny Memories this year, we’ve partnered with the Missouri History Museum once again to present a program dedicated to the musical legacy of Tin Pan Alley. It was this revolutionary wave of (mostly Jewish!) composers that paved the way for the songs of Broadway and American popular music to become an integral part of our culture. As many artists like Irving Berlin, Harold Arlen, and Scott Joplin created whole new genres of popular music, more serious classical composers couldn’t help but be swayed to incorporate elements of those genres into their own music. Ravel, Debussy, Milhaud, and a slew of others wrote music with a nod to jazz and ragtime, and a few artists like Gershwin and Bernstein managed to straddle both the popular and the classical worlds.

Our program at the 560 Music Center looks at a very different type of voice: that of protest. Throughout the ages, composers have used music as a form of resistance. From Ilse Weber’s Lullaby written from inside Theresienstadt, to the American composer Frederic Rzewski, who has made a career out of writing protest music, the program culminates with Dmitri Shostakovich’s infamous eighth string quartet, which the composer dedicated “to the victims of fascism and the war.”

 St. Louis based composer L.J. White is featured on our Aug 19 program. 

St. Louis based composer L.J. White is featured on our Aug 19 program. 

The final program of our eighth season attempts to gives voice to two groups: underrepresented composers: women, African-Americans, members of the LGBT community; and those whose voices have been lost: victims of the Holocaust and even extinct animals. The final piece of the festival is music from the film “The Golem,” a story of a clay creature magically coming to life — just as the Golem is given life in this classic story, we hope to give voice to these important groups through music.

Throughout time, artists have composed music and created art as a prism to reflect the world that they live in. Hearing their voices helps us to build bridges throughout history, across cultures, and through our own community. Besides these three main programs, we’ll be presenting free concerts around St. Louis to children and to underserved audiences, as we do each year.

We look forward to sharing the fascinating stories and the powerful music of voices past and present, and hope you'll join us this August!