The crossover string quartet ATLYS gave an exceptionally dynamic concert for the start of the Geneva Music Festival, brilliantly inaugurating the “Season of new beginnings”.
The quartet performed to a packed house at The Cracker Factory, with an audience representing all age groups. Linnea McGee, 12, said she “loved that (artists) all had different ways of playing their tunes”, and she found the concert “pretty and artistic”.
The program ranged from the first known piece written explicitly for string quartet, to reimagined folk songs, dynamic EDM and pop arrangements, and a piece arranged specifically for a Patreon request.
ATLYS was returning for its third season, and members noticed the feeling of homecoming and community that GMF provides. Sabrina said she was “blown away by the dedication of individuals and the warmth of the community as a whole.” Jinty added that “it’s like coming to see your family, you feel comfortable. Cool to see powerful women leading the board. Genevieve continued. “Each time (at the GMF) is original and different, something to look forward to. Venues add character to our shows.
The centerpiece of the evening, Haydn’s Quartet in E flat major, op. 33 #2, introduced the theme of conversation and split voices that was to continue for much of the night. As they proceeded with new arrangements of folk music, ATLYS used new techniques, such as strumming and chopping, to imitate other instruments used in these musical traditions.
Their rendition of the folk song “Shenandoah” figured as an allegory of the concerts and the main theme of the Festival – each musician exploring the main line of the melody, then moving on to the next, like a common thread. In this way, GMF Resident Scholar, Musicologist Anya Wilkenings, explained that ATLYS’ mission fits perfectly with the theme of the GMF this year: each successive generation of musicians reinterprets and builds on what has come before.
The quartet received an immediate and simultaneous standing ovation at the end of the concert.
Recorded music always fails to do justice to a live performance, and in the case of ATLYS, that seemed especially true. The quartet is so dynamic, so engaging as they play – with each other, with their instruments, with the music, and of course with the audience – that watching them play has enriched the music far beyond mere acoustics.
The venue too felt like a perfect fit. The Cracker Factory is open and malleable, a versatile space. Inside, seated in clusters at small tables, the audience felt both comfortable and highly engaged. The venue has made musicians more accessible to the public, in the same way that ATLYS strives to make its music accessible to a wider audience.
It was an ideal opening for the GMF 2022 season, and a good omen for the weeks to come.
The Geneva Music Festival runs until June 12, with new concerts and artists every week. For more information and to purchase tickets or season passes, for in-person or live streaming, please visit https://genevamusicfestival.com/.
Emily Grazier is a freelance writer and editor living in Geneva. She is the public relations editor for the Fête Musicale de Genève.