Kenneth Nafziger, artistic director and conductor, is professor of music at Eastern Mennonite University. A graduate of Goshen College, he received a doctor of musical arts in music history and literature from the University of Oregon and was a post-doctoral conducting student with Helmuth Rilling in Frankfurt/Main and Stuttgart, Germany. At EMU his teaching responsibilities include the EMU Chamber Singers and courses in conducting, interdisciplinary humanities studies, the honors program, church music, and world music.
Nafziger is also music director and conductor of the chamber choir Winchester Musica Viva in Winchester, Virginia. The ensemble completed its 36th season, highlighted by a well-received performance of Handel’s Messiah.
In June 2015, Nafziger received the 2015 Circle of Excellence in the Arts Award, given by the Forbes Center for the Performing Arts, the Arts Council of the Valley, and the College of Visual and Performing Arts at James Madison University, in recognition of his sustained contributions in the arts and his creative and superior accomplishments that have improved the cultural vitality of the Shenandoah Valley.
Nafziger has worked with many of Cuba’s premier orchestral and choral ensembles over the past number of years, including guest conducting appearances with Cuba’s leading orchestras and choirs, teaching master classes on a variety of musical topics, and participating with musical colleagues in a number of joint projects. These visits have resulted in the guest appearance of Exaudi and its director, María Felicia Pérez, at the 2001 Bach Festival, and invitations to the EMU Chamber Singers and Winchester Musica Viva to perform there.
His resume includes significant work in church music. He edited or assisted in editing three hymnals (the ones in the hymnal racks), producing teaching materials and recordings, and co-wrote a book on the significance of singing among Mennonites. His work is widely known in many denominations. A January workshop, which he founded for church music leaders, has run successfully for over twenty years and draws a large population of church musicians from a wide geographic and denominational spread. He is a frequent guest conductor, workshop leader, and clinician across the United States and Canada.