Gesher Music Festival returns Aug. 10-20

The Gesher Music Festival will return in August for its seventh season of 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 that 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 in “Transcending Borders.” The music is by both Jewish and non-Jewish composers and lyricists, representing different times and nationalities. 

Three concerts will 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 at 5:30 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 10 in a free program at The Vino Gallery, 4701 McPherson Ave. (food and drinks available for purchase). At 4 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 13, Gesher musicians will present an interactive informal family concert for $5 per person (children under 2 free).

 Gesher is again 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, at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 17, will be an evening of chamber music taking listeners on a musical tour of that challenging time with music written during or about WWI. 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.

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

 Gesher is the Hebrew word for bridge, or connection, and the festival aims to build multicultural 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. 

An added opportunity is a free Gesher Festival docent-led tour of the St. Louis Art Museum’s collection of works relevant to this year’s festival’s theme of “War & Peace.” RSVP required.

For more information on the series, visit geshermusicfestival.org. Tickets are $20 for concerts and $5 for the Family Concert and may be purchased online at geshermusicfestival.org or by calling the box office, 314-442-3283.

The J’s Gesher Music Festival is presented by the Silk Foundation and the Maurice Amado Foundation.