Gesher Music Festival Returns For An Encore

The Gesher Music Festival returns in August for its 7th Season bringing professional musicians to St. Louis to perform chamber music with a “Jewish twist” or inflection. This year’s theme, “WAR & PEACE” explores music and stories reflecting the Jewish experience which illuminate our common humanity even in times of conflict. The concerts explore the music of World War I in “Beyond the Trenches,” the painful stories of war and conflict in “Prayers for Peace” as well as how music is a bridge (gesher) in “Transcending Borders”. All of this through the music of both Jewish and non-Jewish composers and lyricists who represent different times and nationalities. Three distinct concerts reflect these themes, each in a different venue. In addition, there is an opportunity to “Meet the Musicians” in a more informal setting as they perform some of their personal favorite pieces as well as a Family Concert, appropriate for all ages.

The first of the more casual programs, “Meet the Musicians,” is Thursday, August 10 at 5:30 PM in a free program at The Vino Gallery, 4701 McPherson Ave (food and drinks available for purchase). On Sunday, August 13 at 4 PM, the Gesher musicians will present an interactive informal Family Concert for only $5 per person (children under 2 free).

Again this year, Gesher is partnering with the Missouri History Museum to present the first of the more formal concerts, Beyond the Trenches as part of the Museum’s “World War I: Missouri and the Great War” exhibit. The concert (Thursday, August 17 at 7:30), is an evening of chamber music that will take listeners on a musical tour  of that challenging time with music written during or about the Great War. Along with performances by the Gesher artists, Artistic Director Sara Sitzer will tell the stories behind the music for this period. The concert is free and will be in the Museum’s Lee Auditorium. No reservations are necessary.

Other programs include a concert Saturday, August 19, “Prayer for Peace” at the 560 Music Center in University City, and Sunday, August 20, “Transcending Borders” at the JCC’s Wool Studio Theatre. As in past years, Festival musicians will be part of a Shabbat service at Central Reform Congregation Friday, August 11.

Gesher is the Hebrew word for bridge, or connection, and the Festival builds multi-cultural bridges by exposing audiences to music that in some way relates to the Jewish experience. The musicians also build bridges to younger and new audiences through their outreach programs designed to reach economically disadvantaged and underserved communities such as the Juvenile Detention Center, Covenant Place, the International Institute and the Ferguson Public Library. Bridges are also built between classical repertoire and more contemporary music. And of course they are connecting older, more traditional audiences to younger musicians.

An added opportunity is a free Gesher Festival docent let tour of The St. Louis Art Museum’s collection of works on this year’s theme of “War & Peace.” Sign up online at or call 314-442-3283.

The JCC’s Gesher Music Festival presented by the Silk Foundation and the Maurice Amado Foundation, brings the intimate form of chamber music to the community in a week-long program featuring professional musicians from throughout the country as well as local musicians.

Concert details are available at Tickets are $20 for concerts and $5 for the Family Concert and may be purchased online or by calling the box office, 314-442-3283.

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  • Thursday, August 10, 5:30 PMMEET THE MUSICIANS – a free event at The Vino Gallery,  4701 McPherson Ave
  • Friday, August 11, 7:30 PMShabbat service at Central Reform Congregation, 5020 Waterman. Musicians will be part of the service
  • Sunday, August 12, 4:00 PM: FAMILY CONCERT, JCC Wool Studio Theatre, 2 Millstone Campus Dr ($5)
  • Thursday, August 17, 7:30 PMBEYOND THE TRENCHES – a musical journey of that era from Europe to the home front to the trenches and beyond. At Missouri History Museum as part of their exhibit “World War I: Missouri and the Great War,” Music of Stravinsky, Berg, Korngold, and others (free)
  • Saturday, August 19, 7:30 PMPRAYER FOR PEACE – featuring the work of composers who have created beauty despite current events, offering a chance for reflection and peace in a tumultuous world: Music of Golijov, Fairouz, Beethoven – WU Music Center, 560 Trinity ($20)
  • Sunday August 20, 3:00 PMTRANSCENDING BORDERS – music of many of Israeli and Arab composers using the power of music to build bridges and facilitate dialogue among cultures and nations: Music of Ben-Haim, Dada, Glalian, Ran and Fairouz – JCC, 2 Millstone Campus Drive ($20)
  • Sunday, August 13, 1:00 PMBonus event: free docent-led tour of art relating to “War & Peace” theme from the collection of the St. Louis Art Museum. Registration required 314-442-3283

The J is an interactive, multi-generational gathering place that offers a variety of programs and services to both the St. Louis Jewish community, and the community at large. The Jewish Community Center provides educational, cultural, social, Jewish identity-building and recreational programming and offers two, state-of-the art fitness facilities, all designed to promote physical and spiritual growth. Everyone is welcome at the J.

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