The 4th annual Geneva Music Festival has brought together many talented musicians, including Geneva-natives festival director Geoffrey Herd, violinist Eliot Heaton and cellist Hannah Collins. While they have become internationally renowned, these three musicians have devoted themselves to bringing new musical experiences to audiences in and around the Finger Lakes Region each summer.
“We’ve all done exciting things elsewhere,” says Collins, a Fellow of the Academy at Carnegie. “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.”
“I just believe musicians should be active in the communities where they are from,” says Herd, a doctoral student in violin studies at Rice University.
While the festival itself will offer an array of unique fine arts concerts, perhaps the most interesting aspect of the events are the people involved. Each musician has committed time to performing at free educational concerts as a local philanthropic effort. Herd has arranged numerous educational concerts for school districts in the area, at which Heaton will also perform alongside the other musicians of the festival. Concerts for this festival season are planned for students at North Street Elementary as well as for students attending Auburn Jr. and Sr. 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.
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, 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.
As a Fellow of the Academy at Carnegie, Collins has completed training to do work 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. The collective is part of Ensemble ACJW, a program of Carnegie Hall, The Juilliard School, and the Weill Music Institute, in partnership with the NYC Department of Education.
Heaton, who is pursuing a graduate degree at Indiana University, 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.
The festival is sponsored in part by Hobart and William Smith Colleges and will wrap up this weekend with two final concerts presenting the works of the “Three Great Romantics: Music of Schumann, Mendelssohn, and Brahms.” Friday, June 20 will feature a concert in the Geneva Room at Hobart and William Smith Colleges’ Warren Hunting Smith Library at 7:30 p.m. This will be followed be an encore performance at Willard Chapel in Auburn on Saturday, June 21 at 7:30 p.m.
The photo above features Geoffrey Herd performing at last week’s concert.