Geneva Music Festival 2021 Season

Ani Kavafian and Geoffrey Herd

“First Decade Retrospective” Brings Diverse Musical Influences, Formats

by Cynthia McVey

The 2021 Season of the Geneva Music Festival, “First Decade Retrospective,” showcases the diverse musical influences the festival has celebrated since its inception, including Jazz, Latin, African American and women composers and musicians. The 2021 season features live-streamed and in-person concerts at the Smith Center for Performing Arts, Geneva On The Lake and other venues, all in keeping with CDC safety protocols. This year also sees the return of audience favorites who have taken part in the Festival over the past decade, including Hannah Collins, Eliot Heaton, Jinjoo Cho, Clive Greensmith, Eric Wong, Ettore Causa, Michelle Cann, Ani Kavafian, Kirsten Docter, Esther Park, ATLYS quartet, JP Jofre and La Voz de Tres.

“We have been truly fortunate over the course of our first decade to consistently present world-class musicians,” says GMF Director and violinist Geoffrey Herd. “With the need to move concerts to a virtual format last year, we were able to reach a wider audience base with unforgettable performances and interactive experiences. I’m thrilled the 2021 season will represent the largest variety of music offered in one year, and in formats that will make the concerts safe and accessible to wide audiences.”

The season opens on May 20 with the ATLYS Quartet concert in Canandaigua. In 2019, ATLYS took audiences on a journey around the world through their music; this year, ATLYS features a world premiere, the Sonnenberg Suite by Ari Fisher. This massive work, born from ATLYS’ first visit to the Finger Lakes in the late spring of 2019, is dedicated to the spectacular, diverse and eclectic gardens of the Sonnenberg Mansion State Historic Park where the performance will take place.

The following weekend, favorite GMF artists Jinjoo Cho (violin), Ettore Causa (viola), Clive Greensmith (cello) and others present a concert featuring rarely heard masterpieces by Beethoven as part of a continued celebration of the composer’s 250th birthday. The festival is also proud to continue promoting the work of women composers with the unique and intense Zwilich Septet and Fanny Mendelssohn’s romantic Piano Trio.

GMF rings in Memorial Day weekend with performances that explore the long-lasting and interwoven influences of German classicism throughout Europe and America. Performances of works by Beethoven, Florence Price and Dohnanyi feature Eliot Heaton and Herd (violin), Max Geissler (cello), Michelle Cann (piano) and Eric Wong (viola). Then, on Sunday, May 30, the tune will change drastically as Aaron Lipp and the Slacktones join the festival for the first time with bluegrass from the band’s old-time music roots.

On Friday, June 4, baritone Dashon Burton returns to the festival with Cann. These renowned artists take audiences on a musical journey featuring the dreamy and sensuous world of Schumann’s song cycle Dichterliebe (A Poet’s Love), soothing lullabies for love-sick hearts and songs that will call us back to this world, waking us up to embrace the possibilities of a new day.

Performances continue that weekend with La Vos De Tres and their blend of infectious rhythms and nuanced songwriting traditions of Latin America, original compositions and picks from the Great American Songbook. They are joined on this program by Tom Bergeron on trumpet.

On Thursday, June 10, award-winning bandoneon player JP Jofre presents an evening of his “Hard Tango.”

The Grand Finale will then take place over the weekend and features Ani Kavafian and Herd (violin), Kirsten Docter (viola), Hannah Collins (cello) and Esther Park (piano).  The program opens with a work by Jessie Montgomery, a brilliant young composer who interweaves classical music with elements of vernacular music, improvisation, language, and social justice. The program also includes Rebecca Clarke’s heartfelt Dumka and concludes with Brahms’ riveting Piano Quintet in F-Minor.

The program is subject to change. Please visit for the most accurate schedule and venues. Tickets for adult admission to each in-person concert or live-stream are $25 (ages 18 and under are free).

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