The Geneva Music Festival concluded its final concerts for the 2022 season the weekend before last. Running from May 20 to June 12, it brought a group of world-class musicians to perform for audiences in the city for eight concerts.
In total, the festival attracted more than 1,000 audience members, and involved 450 children in outreach programming and free community concerts.
It included a gem of a concert, the Montrose Trio’s performance June 9, featuring piano trios by Schubert and Mendelssohn. It was an excellent deep dive into the contrasting moods and features that different composers can bring to the same art form.
Jon Kimura Parker, the trio’s pianist, said of the selections: “The Montrose Trio really wanted to showcase two substantial masterpieces in this program. We thought it would be a good contrast to some of the other programs that we knew would be more likely to have shorter works in different combinations. Schubert and Mendelssohn each wrote two stunning piano trios, and playing one of each felt just right.”
It is rare, as an adult, to encounter such a sense of wonder and freshness, like going to a concert for the very first time. This is what the Montrose Trio is able to create for its audience. Even listening through live-stream, stuck at home with COVID-19, from the first few notes their playing was absolutely spellbinding. They play with such finesse and connection — both to the music and to each other — and with such obvious enjoyment, even with the stylistic constraints that chamber music imposes on its performers.
“We love performing together as a trio,” Parker added. “Our secret weapon is that Martin and Clive played together in the world-renowned Tokyo String Quartet for 10 years, so have incredible experience playing together. Our schedules don’t allow for a lot of touring but when we perform together it always feels like magic to me.”
It certainly was magic for the audience.
The all-stars’ final chamber concert June 11 also was a treat. It featured both Parker — an Officer of The Order of Canada — and Clive Greensmith from Montrose, as well as festival Director Geoffrey Herd and several other talented GMF artists-in-residence. The varied program, and varied permutations of musicians, led to a highly engaging evening of music themed loosely around American-influenced classical compositions — a fitting finale for the New Beginnings Festival theme this year.
Selections included a Florence Price piano quintet; a masterful solo piano rendition of Chick Corea’s composition, “Got a Match?”, which Parker initially learned by ear; the heart-wrenching Adagio by Samuel Barber; a Dvořák piano quartet in E-flat major; and the “Danzas de Panama” of William Grant Still, accented with percussive techniques.
Hannah Collins, the cellist who performed in the “Danzas de Panama” and the Dvořák Piano Quartet, and who is a winner of both the Presser Music Award and De Linkprijs, said, “This year’s festival lineup was a wonderful combination of returning musicians and GMF first-timers like Jon Kimura Parker and Grace Park, which created wonderful opportunities for new musical connections and friendships. As a native of Geneva, performing at the Geneva Music Festival is always a highlight of my year because it allows me to share music I love with my family and friends in this community. Geneva is a very special place with so much energy for music and the performing arts.”
The violist for the evening’s lineup, Ettore Causa, added, “I had a really wonderful time at the GMF, together with the most wonderful colleagues, it was absolutely enchanting to play with them and we had a lot of fun together. This is the third time I have been in Geneva and I must say that in all this time I have met many kind people, I have also enjoyed lots of lovely restaurants and cafes and last and not least the beautiful views at the lake.”
Causa is on the faculty at Yale and has been awarded a number of prestigious honors for his work.
Each musician I spoke with commented on the warmth and friendliness they found in Geneva, and the community that the festival forges among its musicians.
“Festivals thrive when the community supports the artistic vision of their Artistic Director,” Parker said. “My sense is that the GMF audience passionately believes in Geoffrey Herd’s programming and vision and that makes for a unique experience for everyone.”
If you missed any of the concerts, you can still enjoy the festival artists performing at the Smith Opera House via the Digital Concert Hall. Purchase your tickets at GenevaMusicFestival.com. Season pass holders who want to relive highlights of the Festival can also find the live-streamed concerts available on the GMF website. The live-stream recordings will be available on the GMF website for two weeks.
In all the delight the festival has had to offer, it would be remiss not to give GMF’s main corporate sponsors this season a parting mention as well – Lyons National Bank, which has been a valued season sponsor for several years, and Generations Bank, a new sponsor. To learn more about GMF, or to volunteer for next year, visit https://genevamusicfestival.com/.