This past summer, St. Andrew's Director of Instrumental Music was invited to spend three weeks in Orvieto, Italy as the guest soloist for the Orvieto Festival of Strings—and his trip provided much-needed musical reinvigoration for the 2017-18 orchestra season at St. Andrew's. "It was a musician's spa vacation if ever there was one," said Geiersbach. "I spent my days surrounded by outstanding musicians and rehearsing before attending almost nightly concerts, some as a performer and some as a listener." Geiersbach performed a flute recital in Sant'Agostino church in Orvieto on August 11, performing with festival pianist Marco Grisanti as well as cellist and St. Andrew's alum David Agia '06. (You can watch this performance on our Vimeo page.) Geiersbach is not only a flutist; he plays all string instruments, and was thus also invited to play violin with the festival orchestra. "It was a luxury to have the time to focus on just two instruments for a while," says Fred, who teaches almost every single instrument played by students at St. Andrew's (students can also sign up for private lessons with individual instructors).
"Working with Marco, who is chamber music professor and head of piano accompaniment at the Santa Cecilia Conservatory in Rome, was a great delight," Geiersbach added. "He and I are already planning our next program. And to perform with David and to see him perform in his string quartet was also a teacher's dream realized: David has really become a maestro of the cello."
Fred was invited to be a part of the festival thanks to St. Andrew's cello instructor George Atanasiu (who was Agia's first cello teacher). George is the festival's music director, and also teaches at Rowan University in New Jersey.
The orchestra, though small, was very accomplished and gave excellent concerts Orvieto's Duomo, as well as in other beautiful churches in three castle towns near Orvieto. In the town of Preggio, Fred performed with Grisanti and Lenuta Ciulei as soloist in Bach's Brandenburg Concerto No. 5. "Playing Vivaldi concerti in 14th century Italian churches gave me a new understanding of these pieces from an acoustic point of view," Geiersbach said. "The sounds and smells of these spaces will keep bringing me back for more connection to the past."
While in Italy, Geiersbach made day trips to Rome and Florence in addition to soaking in the cobblestoned roads of Orvieto. From his room in the Hotel Oasi Dei Discelopi he could gaze out on vineyards and groves of olive trees and mountains. Great long meals and afternoon naps were also a wonderful antidote to the frenetic American lifestyle. Spending time every evening on the terrace talking late into the cooling evening, Fred had to press his French into service after decades of disuse. "I found myself after three weeks having increased comprehension of Italian, German, and Roumanian, the languages spoken by the maestri at my table," Geiersbach recalled. "But I now want to speak more languages and become a citizen of the world."
This summer opportunity to grow as an artist was subsidized by the festival and in part by St. Andrew's. "I am extremely grateful both to George Atanasiu and to St. Andrew's for making it possible to make so many new friends in such a gorgeous part of the world," he concluded.