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Violinist keeps busy with musical projects
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Gainesville ProMusica concert series featuring Sarah Geller

When: 3 p.m. Sunday
Where: Pearce Auditorium, Brenau University, 500 Washington St. SE, Gainesville
How much: $15, students free
More info: 770-535-7342

The strings of Sarah Geller's violin help tie together music education, solo performances and nontraditional music and dance projects.

The professional violinist who hails from New York and is a graduate of the Manhattan School of Music will perform a special set of romantic tunes for the second Gainesville ProMusica concert, slated for 3 p.m. Sunday at Pearce Auditorium at Brenau University. She will be accompanied by pianist Sayaka Tanikawa.

Speaking by phone from her home in New York, Geller said last year marked her solo debut in California, during the West Coast Salon series in San Luis Obispo.

Closer to home, another project she's been working on is SEGUE, an ensemble trio that remains fluid - Geller said she specifically changes the lineup in the group in order to accommodate a new project and not get locked into a specific sound.

"It's ever changing, so it's flexible, because I never really like the, sort of, being rigid about the form," she said of the group, which currently includes Geller, a guitarist and a flamenco dancer. "I like the ability if I have a certain project or a certain idea, it gives me the flexibility to change as I go."

The trio will be performing at the Bruno Walter Auditorium at Lincoln Center in New York this April, but she said she's always looking for new, different venues to attract a wider, more varied audience.

And the fluidity of the group, she said, reflects where the ideas for projects come from.

"Usually it can start in a couple of ways; it's usually an idea that forms from some friends and colleagues, and they say, ‘Oh, let's do this,' and it depends on who's having the conversation," she said. "So it can start that way by just a very informal gathering of musicians, or it can also start with where I want a particular style of music. The latest being the flamenco project."

Along with her solo performances and her SEGUE ensemble, Geller is also an avid teacher and has recently opened her own violin studio in Brooklyn. She is also on the staff at the School for Strings, one of the leading schools teaching the Suzuki style of violin instruction.

At her own school, she said, she's teaching kids ranging in age from 3 to 11.

"It's a whole different mentality for each hour that goes by," she said.

Geller added that being part of the ProMusica series is right up her alley, especially since students in the strings program at McEver Elementary School, taught by Wendy Baker, will be in attendance Sunday.

"At some point during the performance I will take some time to address (the students) directly and talk about music and violin and studying the violin and what it meant for me," Geller said. "And trying to inspire them and trying to inspire them to keep going. It's possible I might perform something specifically for them as part of their segment, but it will be part of the concert we'll be putting on."

Selections for Sunday include "Sonata No. 1 in D Major" by Beethoven, "Romances" by Robert Schumann and "Sonata in A Major" by Brahms.

Geller said teaching is one of the most rewarding aspects of her career. During a recent residency in Utica, N.Y., Geller said the final performance - where she was able to reflect on the work she had done there with the students - put it all into perspective.

"I worked with between 600 and 800 kids at the end of the four days," she said. "Honestly, at the end of the day, when you come away from something like that is what it all means.

"Having this concert Sunday in Gainesville, with these kids, is definitely a highlight, and I feel fortunate to give something to them."