The J’s Gesher Music Festival starts Aug. 11

Sara Sitzer performs during the Gesher Music Festival in 2013.

The Jewish Community Center’s Gesher Music Festival will return in August for its sixth season of chamber music with a Jewish twist. This year’s theme, “American Dreams,” explores the stories of immigration, patriotism and Americana through the music of Jewish composers and lyricists who came to this country and helped to shape its cultural landscape. There are three distinct concerts that reflect this theme, each in a different venue, as well as two opportunities to “Meet the Musicians” as they perform some of their personal favorite pieces. The first is Thursday, Aug. 11 at 5:30 p.m. in a happy hour (free with complimentary beverages provided) at The Chapel, 6238 Alexander Drive in Clayton and then again at the Jewish Community Center’s Wool Studio Theater, 2 Millstone Campus Drive, on Friday, Aug. 12 at 10:30 a.m., with complimentary bagels and coffee (the cost is $10).

Again this year, Gesher is partnering with the Missouri History Museum to present American Dreams as part of the Museum’s ongoing “Route 66 — Main Street Through St. Louis” exhibit exploring the “Mother Road” of the country and the people who traveled it. A concert being performed at the museum at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 18, called “The Route 66 Mixtape,” is an evening of chamber music that will take listeners on a musical tour down Route 66. Along with the performances by the Gesher artists, Artistic Director Sara Sitzer will tell the stories behind the music for this classical music twist on Americana. The concert is free and will be in the Museum’s MacDermott Grand Hall.

Other programs include a concert on Saturday, Aug. 20 at the 560 Music Center in University City Center, “Welcome to America” and on Sunday, Aug. 21 at the J’s Wool Studio Theatre, “The Great (Jewish) American Songbook.”  As in past years, Festival musicians will be part of a Shabbat service at Central Reform Congregation. 

Gesher is the Hebrew word for “bridge,” or connection, and the festival aims to build multi-cultural bridges by exposing audiences to music that in some way relates to the Jewish experience. The festival builds bridges to younger and new audiences through outreach programs designed to reach underserved communities such as the Juvenile Detention Center, Covenant Place, Boys & Girls Club and College Bound. 

Concert details are available at Tickets may be purchased online or by calling the box office, 314-442-3283. The festival is supported by the Silk Foundation and the Amado Foundation.