The 2019 Gesher Music Festival

The music of refuge, of security, and of sanctuary. The 9th annual Gesher Music Festival explores these themes through engaging, world-class chamber music performances. Welcome to the 2019 Festival: SHELTER OF PEACE.

One of the reasons why music and art are so critical for our society is because they provide a reflection on who we are as a culture. This year, Gesher explores the art that shines a lens on what makes us feel safe, secure, and uplifted.

We’re thrilled to be partnering for the fourth year with the Missouri History Museum in a program called SAFE HAVEN. The United States has, throughout time, been a place of refuge for those fleeing persecution or war. In this program, we’ll explore the stories and music of 9 composers who made their artistic mark after arriving in the U.S. as refugees. From the celebrated song writer Irving Berlin, whose family escaped the 19th century pogroms in Russia, to composers Like Erich Korngold and Arnold Schoenberg who fled Nazi rule, and even to contemporary artists like Kinan Azmeh, who has enjoyed a successful performing and composing career here in the U.S. after fleeing war-torn Syria.

Our concert at the 560 Music Center explores the concept of shelter from a different perspective, and is entitled SHELTER FROM THE STORM. We’ll look at music based on literal storms, like David Lang’s Ark Luggage, a piece inspired by the story of Noah’s Ark. We’ll also look towards political or historical storms, like the one that tore the Jewish composer Darius Milhaud from his homeland of France after the Nazi invasion in 1940. And we’ll delve into the 18th century movement in literature and music referred to as Sturm und Drang, or Storm and Stress, that inspired the great Franz Josef Haydn in his famous Opus 20 string quartets.

Our return to the Wool Studio Theater will be in a very special program called SACRED SPACES. We’ll be examining music inspired by and written for the places that humans have found to be the most sacred throughout history. Maurice Ravel’s 2 Hebrew Songs sets texts from Jewish prayers, and Andrew Norman’s Sabina from The Companion Guide to Rome draws its inspiration from the architecture of Rome’s ancient Santa Sabina church. And, of course, to a chamber music lover, there are few spaces more sacred than the Schubertiad, Franz Schubert’s chamber music salon, for which he composed countless works that have become beloved staples of the classical repertoire.

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