The Geneva Music Festival 2021 Season recently concluded with an eclectic Grand Finale concert that included Jessie Montgomery’s soulful and rhythmic “Strum,” Rebecca Clarke’s heartwarming “Dumka,” and Brahms’s riveting Piano Quintet in F Minor. Following an all-virtual format last season, GMF returned this year with eight in-person concerts from May 20 through June 13, most of which had livestream options. This year saw the return of many audience favorites who have taken part in the festival over the past decade, including Hannah Collins, Eliot Heaton, Jinjoo Cho, Clive Greensmith, Eric Wong, Ettore Causa, Dashon Burton, Michelle Cann, Ani Kavafian, Kirsten Docter, Esther Park, ATLYS quartet, JP Jofre, and La Voz de Tres.
“All of the artists, myself included, were excited to be able to perform together again in person,” says GMF Director Geoffrey Herd. “It was especially gratifying to be back with the audiences who have always so enthusiastically supported us. We loved being able to present them with live music; many people told us this was the first time attending such an event since the pandemic began.”
More than 1,000 tickets were sold in 2021, rivaling ticket sales from past seasons that featured more concerts. The Smith Opera House hosted the majority of this year’s performances. Most events were also livestreamed for those who were unable to attend or felt more comfortable viewing from home. Of the total ticket sales, nearly 100 were for livestream viewing.
The season opened with one of two outdoor concerts, “When the Flowers Bloom: ATLYS in the Sonnenberg Gardens.” This was the world premiere of “The Sonnenberg Suite,” composed by Ari Fisher and performed by ATLYS, the classically trained crossover string quartet. It was commissioned by Thomas Mees of Canandaigua and born from ATLYS’ first visit to the Finger Lakes in 2019. The work was dedicated to the spectacular, diverse and eclectic gardens of the Sonnenberg. The festival also featured a bluegrass rockabilly concert during which Aaron Lipp and the Slacktones joined the festival for the first time. Before an enthusiastic crowd outdoors at Geneva On The Lake, the band presented bluegrass from their old-time music roots.
In keeping with its goal of inspiring and nurturing a lifelong appreciation for classical music, GMF artists took part in outreach activities in the region. ATLYS presented a concert at Ferris Hills for a crowd of about 30 people. Then, on the following night, they performed outside for children in the Geneva YMCA’s after-school program and held a free, pop-up concert at the Geneva Lakefront. Additionally, baritone Dashon Burton and pianist Michelle Cann presented a special program for students from St. Peters Community Arts Academy and the Boys and Girls Club, at the Community Center. In collaboration with Geneva Recreation Committee, Argentinean bandoneonist JP Jofre and GMF artists-in-residence also provided a “Tango Teaser” at the Gazebo, Geneva Lakefront Park.
More information about the Geneva Music Festival, the artists who took part in this season, and ways to contribute, is available on the website, www.genevamusicfestival.com.