Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Gesher Music Festival Returns, a Bit Later Than Usual

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Gesher Music Festival Returns, a Bit Later Than Usual

Article excerpt

The Gesher Music Festival, sponsored by the Jewish Community Center, is back for a fifth season, with some important changes.

The most obvious is a major change in dates, switching from June to mid-August.

June was just too crowded, says Gesher producer Kathleen Sitzer.

"We felt like we were beating our heads against the wall, being up against Opera Theatre of St. Louis and the Missouri Chamber Music Festival," she says. "Trying to fight for a little corner of that audience was really challenging. We decided to give August a try."

Moving to August had the additional advantage of enabling the festival to engage musicians from the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra. In June, they're too busy with the opera and various pops concerts at Powell Symphony Hall, but later in the summer more of them are available to take part in other things. This year, SLSO associate principal second violin Eva Kozma will perform as part of the Gesher festivities.

There's more: The festival also has a new music director in Dana Hotle, a new website, new venues and a new look.

There's a new theme for the year, too, "Degenerate Music."

"That came about almost serendipitously," Sitzer says. The Missouri History Museum was looking for projects to go with its current exhibit "State of Deception: The Power of Nazi Propaganda." It had lots of events, but it didn't have any musical programs lined up.

Enter Gesher and enter assorted "degenerate" composers, including Gustav Mahler, Anton Webern, Igor Stravinsky, Arnold Schoenberg, Kurt Weill and others. Gesher's artistic director, cellist Sara Sitzer, will tell the stories behind the music at the museum's free concert on Aug. 20.

The festival runs Thursday through Aug. 23. The first evening, a "meet the artists" event at the Tavern of Fine Arts, promises to be fun and casual. The performers will play some of their favorite music and mingle with the audience between numbers. …

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