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Bach Festival pairs seasoned performers with youthful, rising stars like 14-year-old Emma Resmini

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Flutist Emma Resmini’s YouTube channel, loaded with 83 classical performances from her recital repertoire since age six, has garnered 2.63 million views from around the world. If each view represents a unique person, that number would fill 152 NBA-sized arenas.

Resmini began playing flute at age 3, “determined to figure it out, and by the end of the first year, there was no holding her back,” says her mother Marilyn. Now 14, Resmini arrives on the stage of the Shenandoah Valley Bach Festival as a seasoned performer, lauded a “rising star” by world-renowned flutist Sir James Galway.

“YouTube is terrific, and I hope more classical musicians become more comfortable with it,” said Resmini from her home in northern Virginia several days prior to her two Bach Festival performances. “The only distraction is that it can take a while to respond to people’s comments. And there are a lot of people who think I’m still 7 or 8 years old.”

Her comments to viewers, many of them flute students her age, reveal a budding helpful teacher: “The most important thing is to tell a story with the music and have fun telling the story. Don’t let your music exam be like a math exam. Show everyone why you love to play the flute!!!”

And to another student’s query about vibrato, she wrote online, “Try metronome work. Set it to 80 then do 2 vibrato pulses to a beat on a scale. Then 3 to a beat, then 4. Then every day make the metronome one click faster. In a few weeks your vibrato will be better!!! Let me know how it goes!!!”

Resmini also attaches three exclamation points to other interests in her life. She enjoys flying model rockets with her father, a scientist. Recently, “I’ve been getting into building and programming robots,” she said. “It can be tricky to get the coding and engineering to come together, but it’s so much fun when my little bot finally does exactly what I want.” And she adores Maxi, her maltipoo, a cross between a Maltese and poodle.

This is her second year to perform at the Bach Festival; last year she played at a noon concert. This Thursday, June 12, at noon in Harrisonburg’s First Presbyterian Church, Resmini and Lise Keiter will perform a Sonata for Flute and Piano by Erwin Schulhoff. “He was one of many Jewish musicians whose successful careers were cut short by the rise of Nazis in Germany,” said Resmini. “He was deported to a concentration camp where he died in 1942. His music then fell into obscurity.

“However, his sonata is an amazing work that deserves to be played more. It’s impressionistic with some hints of jazz. The mood is sometimes dreamy, sometimes playful. It’s a very demanding piece that gives both the flutist and the pianist a real workout!”

Finding musical gems like this sonata and stringing together a diverse musical repertoire is a hallmark of the Shenandoah Valley Bach Festival, under the artistic direction of Kenneth J. Nafziger for the past 22 years. From Bach, a thousand flowers bloom.

Another festival distinctive is showcasing youthful talent. Seasoned musicians gather year after year, family-reunion style, under the festival’s dome of community music-making. Pairing that experience with a new stream of youthful talent gives the Bach Festival its growing edge.

Six gifted instrumentalists, named Festival Fellows, “are outstanding young musicians who apply to our youth program and are selected to play in the orchestra alongside the professionals, thus gaining valuable experience and mentoring,” says Mary Kay Adams, the festival’s executive director and principal flutist, who has played in the festival orchestra for each of its 22 seasons.

Festival Concerts 2 and 3, Friday, June 13, and Saturday, June 14, at 7:30 in EMU’s Lehman Auditorium, will showcase this pairing of talented youth and experienced professionals.

On Saturday’s stage, 13-year old treble Augusta Nafziger joins Canadian bass-baritone Daniel Lichti, New York soprano Sharla Nafziger (no relation), Texas tenor Kenneth Gayle and New Jersey mezzo-soprano Barbara Rearick. The five soloists with the festival chorus and orchestra will reprise Mendelssohn’s Elijah, previously performed at 1995’s Bach Festival. Lichti sang the title role in that performance as well.

Emma Resmini and the festival orchestra will perform Ibert’s Concerto for Flute and Orchestra, after the intermission of Friday’s concert. “The concerto is a masterpiece of the flute repertoire and a real tour-de-force,” said Resmini. “It is treasured by flutists for its masterful orchestration, virtuosic writing and fiendish technical challenges for the soloist.”

Nothing quite matches hearing a live performance of the Shenandoah Valley Bach Festival. But if you can’t attend, you can soon watch Resmini’s two performances on her YouTube channel. (Views of her 2013 noon Bach Festival performance now stand at 22,566 and rising.)

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