Geneva Music Festival Celebrates International Women’s Day With Spring Benefit Concert 

Carr-Petrova Duo. Photo©DavidBeyda
02/22/2024

Women have made many contributions to classical music as both composers and performers, yet their work often receives far less attention compared to their male counterparts. This spring, the Geneva Music Festival will host its annual Spring Benefit Concert and silent action on International Women’s Day, with a program that spotlights these oft-forgotten contributors to classical music. On March 8, the Carr-Petrova Duo will perform a concert featuring works for viola and piano by female composers. 

The concert program, entitled “HERS” is a collaboration of pianist Anna Petrova and violist Molly Carr. Playing together since their student days, they subsequently formed a duo and have traveled the world. Petrova said, “When one creates this kind of partnership, the most important and compelling thing is the musical partnership and the personal partnership. We’d played with many other people before, but she and I just clicked on a musical and personal level very well; it was a natural fit.” 

“’HERS’ is something that we’ve pieced together for a few years now. During the pandemic we actually lived together for about nine months; during those nine months we took a road trip and in the car we were enjoying singing together all our favorite songs. Beyonce’s ‘Halo’ was one of the songs we really loved and the idea of commissioning a piece inspired by that song came up. We really wanted to play something from the pop genre that was different from the usual classical repertoire, but that could still stand its ground on the classical stage. That is how ‘Halo’ was created – with the incredible imagination and compositional skills of Brazilian jazz pianist and composer Henrique Eisenman who weaved a beautiful fantasy on a theme by Beyonce. 

“Andrea Casarrubios’s piece was commissioned in 2021 and we approached Vivian Fung during the pandemic as we started brainstorming composers we wanted to play. Molly was the one who started to forge the idea of all female composers, and it all started to come together into a program.” “HERS” came out of this organic synthesis between friends.” 

Synthesis and serendipity are the themes behind many of the pieces on the program. Composer Vivian Fung created a piece based on the music of Hildegard Von Bingen, which had its debut during the pandemic, with musicians recording their individual parts remotely and then sending the recordings to be compiled together. Carr and Petrova reached out nearly simultaneously to ask Fung about crafting a piece based on Von Bingen’s work, and Fung rearranged her orchestral piece for viola and piano. “It was serendipitous, meant to be,” said Petrova. 

Other pieces on the program have rich and beautiful backstories. “Andrea Casarrubios is a wonderful composer and cellist, and we wanted her to write a piece based on Palestinian female ensemble ‘Daughters of Jerusalem,’” said Petrova. While working with students in the West Bank, Carr and Petrova had an opportunity to hear this ensemble. “Ten to 15 years ago in Palestine it was unheard of to see a woman walking down the street carrying an instrument on her back. The ensemble is all female, they play all the instruments and sing. It changed the face of Palestinian music, and now they’re touring the world. It was such an incredibly powerful story for us that we had to include it on our ‘HERS’ album.” Carr continued, “It’s the story of the impact of a few young women fighting for their dreams. Because of these few women deciding to go against the rules, and fighting the norms, history was made. They paved the way for generations of girls to be able to be professional musicians.”

The last piece on the program is a “staple of the viola repertoire and a very beautiful piece of chamber music. It forged the path of the viola becoming a solo instrument; with pieces like the Clark sonata, the viola was seen as an instrument that can take the spotlight.” While it’s more common to find duos written for piano and violin, Petrova and Carr believe the viola has much to offer. “In terms of playing with the instrument, I really love the viola, its color and voice. It has an almost human voice, very heartfelt and visceral. I’ve never felt like I’m giving up something.” 

“We are honored to be able to present this program in Geneva, New York with the incredible significance that this area holds in the Women's Suffrage Movement. This date, March 8, will also be the official release date of our newest album “HERS” featuring all these compositions. Huge thanks to the Geneva Music Festival and its Director, Geoffrey Herd, for the invitation and for helping align all the stars, creating such a perfect collaboration.”

The Geneva Music Spring Benefit Concert will be held March 8, 2024 in Froelich Hall on the Hobart and William Smith Campuses. Tickets are $75 per person, and the ticket price includes a reception with light fare and biodynamic wines from the celebrated Hermann J. Weimer Winery. 

The Geneva Music Festival was founded in 2011 by Geneva, New York violinist Geoffrey Herd as a weekend of chamber music in his hometown. Now in its 14th season, the festival has grown to a nearly month-long event that draws thousands of attendees from across the Finger Lakes region. Each year, the Festival continues its mission of inspiring people with world-class chamber music and engaging diverse audiences in its outreach programs. To find out more, and to purchase tickets, visit our website at https://genevamusicfestival.com/

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *