Gesher Music Festival to run chamber music series Aug. 8-18

Sara Sitzer is an accomplished cellist who is a member of the Elgin (Ill.) Symphony and the founding artistic director of the Gesher Music Festival.   

Now in its ninth season, the Jewish Community Center’s Gesher Music Festival returns for two weeks in August, offering chamber music with a multicultural twist. The festival will run from Aug. 8-18 with three formal concerts as well as informal opportunities to hear some of the music and meet the musicians.

The theme of the festival this season, “Shelter of Peace,” explores the music of refuge, of security and of sanctuary. Three distinct concerts reflect different aspects of this theme, each in a different venue.

The festival will hold a Gesher preview concert at 7 p.m. Aug. 8 at the World Chess Hall of Fame, 4652 Maryland Ave. in the Central West End. Gesher artists will give an hourlong performance.

On Aug. 11, the festival will offer an 11 a.m. docent-led tour at the St. Louis Art Museum called “Refuge, Security and Sanctuary,” exploring art related to the festival’s Shelter of Peace theme. The tour is free, but registration is requested online.

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On Thursday, Aug. 15 there will be a free concert titled “Safe Haven” at 7:30 p.m. at the Missouri History Museum. The United States has served as a safe haven for artists and composers fleeing war and persecution. The concert will highlight the music and stories behind these refugee composers as Gesher Music Festival Artistic Director Sara Sitzer narrates their history alongside the performances by Gesher artists.

On Friday, Aug. 16, festival musicians will perform at Congregation Temple Israel during Shabbat services. There will be a pre-oneg at 6 p.m. followed by services at 6:30. Festival Artists will perform throughout the service, interweaving classical chamber music between the prayers. Free and open to the community.

On Saturday, Aug. 17, the festival presents “Shelter From the Storm” at 7:30 p.m. at the 560 Music Center, 560 Trinity Ave. in University City. The concert will explore how composers depict shelter from all types of storms, from music depicting the story of Noah’s Ark to the 18th century artistic movement referred to as Sturm und Drang, or Storm and Stress. Admission is $20.

On Sunday, Aug. 18, festival musicians perform “Sacred Spaces” at 2 p.m. at the Jewish Community Center’s Wool Studio Theater. The program will look at the music inspired by and written for the places that humans have found to be the most sacred throughout history. Admission is $20.