Geneva Music Festival revives community outreach

GENEVA — One of the Geneva Music Festival goals is to inspire and nurture a lifelong appreciation for classical music.

Each year, GMF artists take part in outreach activities ranging from concerts at senior living facilities to classes, concerts and collaborations with local youth in various venues. Unable to do in-person outreach last year, ATLYS, a classically trained, crossover string quartet comprised of four women, collaborated virtually with fourth- and fifth-graders at North Street School, culminating in videos that appeared online.

“Our artists really cherish the many interactions they have with audiences,” GMF Director Geoffrey Herd said. “As important as it is to connect with audiences during performances, it’s also priceless to have the opportunity to share our love of music with children and seniors in close, informal settings. I know everyone taking part in this year’s events is excited to be back out in the community.”

ATLYS presented its first outreach concert of the season May 18 at Ferris Hills at West Lake in Canandaigua, entertaining a crowd of about 30 people. It marked the first time since the pandemic began the group performed together for a live audience.

“I dare say for most of us in the room, myself included, this was the first time attending a live concert since early March of last year,” said Sally Webster, a GMF board member.

The evening included a preview of four of the 10 movements of “The Sonnenberg Suite,” a commissioned work by composer Ari Fisher. He was in attendance and introduced the performance.

“Many residents came to me to say how blown away they were,” says Claire Watson, resident services manager at Ferris Hills, who helped coordinate the event. “We can’t wait to have them back again.”

The following night, ATLYS performed outside for children in the Geneva YMCA’s after-school program. At 5 p.m., the group moved to the Geneva Lakefront by the ice cream stand for a special, free pop-up concert.

Outreach events continued when baritone Dashon Burton and pianist Michelle Cann presented a special program for students from St. Peter’s Community Arts Academy and the Boys & Girls Club of Geneva.

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