A grant of $12,000 from the E. Rhodes and Leon B. Carpenter Foundation will help bring five gifted performers to the 21st annual Shenandoah Valley Bach Festival, June 9-16, 2013.
“Through the grant we were able to secure Veronica Chapman-Smith, Kenneth Gayle, Heidi Kurtz, Grant Youngblood and Naoko Takao as part of our concerts,” said Mary Kay Adams, executive director of the Bach Festival. “The support of the Carpenter Foundation is deeply appreciated and will strengthen our program.”
Chapman-Smith, Kurtz, Gayle and Youngblood are soloists who Adams says will be integral parts of the June 14-16 concerts. The group will sing opera arias and ensemble pieces on Friday night, will be the soloists on Saturday in Giuseppi Verdi’s “Requiem,” and be the solo quartet on Sunday morning in Johann Sebastian Bach’s Cantata No. 88.
Takao will perform piano with string orchestra on Benjamin Britten’s “Young Apollo.” Throughout the week she will be the accompanist for the noon chamber music recitals.
“Four of these five performers are return engagements with the Shenandoah Valley Bach Festival,” said Kenneth J. Nafziger, artistic director and conductor. “They are well known here, and have become favorites of audiences and performers.”
About the performers
Veronica Chapman-Smith, soprano, an artist-in-residence at Temple University, has sung roles for opera companies all over the country including Lyric Opera of Chicago, Opera Birmingham, Opera Company of Philadelphia, and Opera Colorado.
Chapman-Smith has been a soloist for the Bach Festival, Charlotte Symphony, Choral Arts Society of Philadelphia, Mendelssohn Club of Philadelphia, Ursinus College, In Clara Voce, and Orquestra Sinfonica Municipal de Caracas.
Heidi Kurtz, mezzo-soprano, is a 1989 graduate of Eastern Mennonite University. She is a core member of The Crossing, The Philadelphia Singers and most recently the Opera Chorus of Philadelphia. She has appeared as a soloist with both groups, as well as with The Mendelssohn Club of Philadelphia, Singing City and Vox Amadeus.
Kurtz has made several solo appearances at the Bach Festival, including Bach’s St. Matthew’s Passion, Misa Cubana, Samson and Beethoven’s “Symphony No. 9.” Since 1999 she has been a guest artist with the Chester County Chorale in their yearly performance of Handel’s Messiah.
Kenneth Gayle, tenor, serves as producing director for Music Doing Good, a non-profit organization that educates, entertains and enriches through innovative musical programming.
Gayle’s national credits include performances with the Lyric Opera of Chicago, Ravinia Music Festival, Seattle Opera, Seattle Symphony, Grant Park Music Festival and a national television appearance at the NAACP Image Awards with Three Mo’ Tenors.
Grant Youngblood, baritone, has performed recently with the Metropolitan Opera in their recent production of Strauss’ “Capriccio,” a debut with Opera North in the role of Count Almaviva in “Le Nozze di Figaro,” and a company debut at the Nashville opera in his signature role of Giorgio Germont in “La Traviata.”
Youngblood has also appeared with the Dallas Symphony, the Philadelphia Orchestra, the Florida Philharmonic, the Chautauqua Symphony, the Louisville Symphony, the Naples Philharmonic, the Jacksonville Symphony, the Spokane Symphony Orchestra, and the Bucharest Philharmonic, among others.
Nakao Takao, pianist, is an assistant professor of keyboard pedagogy at the Frost School of Music at the University of Miami. Takao won a gold medal in the 2000 San Antonio International Piano Competition.
She has performed with the Smithsonian Chamber Players, the Post Classical Ensemble and the Left Bank Quartet at venues such as the Kennedy Center Terrace Theater, the Coolidge Auditorium at the Library of Congress, Lensic Performing Arts Center (Santa Fe), Domaine Forget (Canada), Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center (MD), and Festival Miami.
The Bach Festival opens on June 9, 2013. More information can be found at emu.edu/bach.