An article featuring the fourth annual Geneva Music Festival, written by Stephanie Kenific ’17, appears in the June/July issue of Finger Lakes Woman. Hobart and William Smith Colleges will once again host the Geneva Music Festival for the 2014 season. Performances will be held on campus on June 13 and 20.
“Perhaps the most interesting aspects of this festival, however, will be the musicians involved in carrying on this annual tradition,” wrote Kenific.
In addition to featured performer cellist Clive Greensmith, formerly of the Tokyo String Quartet, the festival will bring several talented natives back to Geneva: its founder and director Geoffrey Herd, a violinist, cellist Hannah Collins, and violinist Eliot Heaton.
“The three of us have been playing together since we were very young,” Herd said. “They’ve been a real inspiration to me, and now we are able to give back to the community that supported us as youth.”
Kenific is currently an intern with the Geneva Music Festival and is working in the Colleges’ Office of Communications this summer. A double major in English and public policy, she is the president of the HWS coalition for educational equity, vice president for the English country dancing club, student liaison for the English department, member of the community building committee, a campus peer minister and will serve as pasta royalty for next year.
The article, with more information about Herd, Collins and Heaton, follows.
Finger Lakes Woman (Cover article)
Geneva Music Festival
The Many Musical Traditions of Geneva
Stephanie Kenific • June/July 2014
The 4th annual Geneva Music Festival is set to offer music-lovers an array of fine musical experiences this June. Attendees will be able to choose from exciting performances ranging from solo recitals, tango music and dancing as well as a traditional chamber music series.
Perhaps the most interesting aspects of this festival, however, will be the musicians involved in carrying on this annual tradition.
In addition to an already thriving line-up, the 2014 season will feature Clive Greensmith, former cellist of the Tokyo String Quartet.
Greensmith will add his distinguished and international background to the festival.
Festival Director Geoffrey Herd, a violinist and a native of Geneva, will keep his partnership going with the many talented performers that continue to play the festival. The Finger Lakes region has revealed itself to be the ideal location for fostering and maintaining musical inspiration: cellist Hannah Collins and fellow violinist Eliot Heaton also trace their roots back to musical education in and around the Geneva City School District.
Heaton recalls a consistent group of people attending the local concerts throughout his childhood. “It was very encouraging as a young musician,” he says.
“The three of us have been playing together since we were very young,” Herd adds. “They’ve been a real inspiration to me, and now we are able to give back to the community that supported us as youth.”
Herd, Collins and Heaton all attended Geneva High School, progressing from family friends and neighbors to serious collaborators throughout their professional careers. In 2011, when Herd announced the first season of the Geneva Music Festival, both musicians joined the line-up to contribute their diverse repertoires.
“We’ve all done exciting things elsewhere,” Collins remarks. “At the festival, we can share them with the number of people in Geneva who love going to concerts and catch up with longtime friends.”
Collins has filled her resume with experiences both meaningful and musical. Currently a Fellow of Ensemble ACJW, a program of Carnegie Hall, The Juilliard School, and the Weill Music Institute, she has completed training to do work as a teaching artist in communities in New York City. As part of the program, she and other musicians participate in a monthly concert series in addition to working with New York City Public School students. Collins is also excited to perform as a new duo with percussionist Michael Compitello. Their partnership is dedicated to the bold performance of compelling works by young composers.
Her commitment to innovative works is the product of several distinct influences. She spent two years abroad in France and the Netherlands, researching and performing contemporary solo cello repertoire. A graduate of Yale University, she also received a master’s degree with highest honors from the Royal Conservatory of The Hague.
“It’s all been a combination of working with others and the feeling of love of music, art and dance I grew up around in Geneva,” she says.
Heaton, who is pursuing a graduate degree at Indiana University, also remembers music as a special kind of social activity while growing up. With four siblings who also play instruments, he has experience with the trombone and the violin, both of which he studied at Geneva High School. While pursuing a double degree in history and music at Oberlin College, Heaton was able to explore his interests in jazz as well as classical music. Following his graduation from Oberlin, he began to focus almost solely on his violin playing.
“I’ve been a little more single-minded,” he reflects. “While at Oberlin I was doing a hundred different things every day. Now I’m only focused on getting better at the violin, so that’s something I’ll be bringing to the festival this year.”
Heaton, while currently auditioning for full-time orchestra positions, recently completed the first year of the master of music degree program at Indiana University. Winner of the Indiana University concerto competition, he performed Stravinsky’s Concerto in D with the IU Chamber Orchestra in March. In addition to his studies, he serves as assistant concertmaster in both the Columbus Indiana Philharmonic and the Terre Haute Symphony Orchestra. An avid performer of new music, Heaton led the renowned Contemporary Music Ensemble in numerous world premiere performances and recording projects.
Herd, as festival director, also keeps himself busy when not visiting Geneva. He has been frequently sought after as a recitalist and chamber musician on an international scale and has performed at such venues as the Isabel Stewart Gardner Museum of Art in Boston and Carnegie Hall’s Weill Recital Hall. In addition to his solo work, Herd is a founding member of the ensemble, Vicennium Void. The group, which is dedicated to performing contemporary works as well as classical pieces, also consists of pianist Christopher Janwong McKiggan, violinist Leah Gastler and cellist Kevin Downs. The group will perform at this year’s Geneva Music Festival, promoting music that has been written in the past 20 years.
Beyond arranging these musical opportunities, Herd has devoted much time and energy to local philanthropic efforts: donating educational concerts to school districts in the area. Concerts for thisfestival season are planned for students at North Street Elementary as well as for students attending Auburn junior and senior high schools. A master class for selected string players in the Auburn School District will be given as well. These will be free of charge.
“I just believe musicians should be active in the communities where they are from,” Herd says.
Herd currently is working towards a doctoral of musical arts degree at the Shepherd Schoo lof Music at Rice University, where he is the Benjamin Armistead Shepherd Teaching Fellow and a student of Paul Kantor. Previously, he received an Artist Diploma from Yale University where he was the recipient of the Broadus Erle Prize for excellence in violin and studied with Ani Kavafian. He earned a bachelor’s and master’s of music degree from the Cleveland Institute of Music, working with William Preucil and David Updegraff, and was awarded the Dr. Gerome Gross Prize.
Thanks to the work of musicians such as Herd, Collins and Heaton, the city of Geneva rests on a strong foundation of musical tradition. St. Peter’s Community Arts Academy in downtown Geneva currently offers youth quality music instruction in a nurturing, yet challenging environment without discrimination. This is in addition to the many educational opportunities provided by the Geneva City School District as well as numerous accessible private instructors and music agencies.
“Geneva is an incredibly beautiful and special place and one that is continuously looking for musical outlets,” Herd says of his hometown.
“I think I speak for everyone when I say that we are all very grateful to the music lovers in this community for continuing to support us by helping to produce this festival and by coming to listen,” Collins adds.
In the photo above, Stephanie Kenific ’17 poses with musicians Geoffrey Herd (left) and Eliot Heaton (right) of the Geneva Music Festival at Geneva Presbyterian Church.