Bach Festival Works to be Highlighted

Adair McConnellAdair McConnell

Adair McConnell, minister of music at St. Stephens United Church of Christ in Harrisonburg, will give a talk highlighting several works to be performed at the Shenandoah Valley Bach Festival, June 10-17. The lecture is set for 2:30 p.m. Tuesday, May 29, in Detwiler Auditorium of Heritage Haven at Virginia Mennonite Retirement Community (VMRC).

McConnell’s presentation will include background information on J.S. Bach and preview his “Orchestral Suite No. 1,” “Cantata No. 100” and “Concerto for Two Violins,” to be performed at the festival by violinists Joan Griffing and Susan Black.

This year’s festival, on the theme, “Bach and Some Admirers,” will feature music written by composers who admired and were influenced by Bach.

Internationally-acclaimed Canadian pianist Janina Fialkowska will perform both Chopin piano concertos during the festival, and the Festival Chorus and Orchestra will perform the celebrated Brahms “Requiem,” along with soloists Sharla Nafziger, soprano, and Thomas Jones, bass. Artistic director, Kenneth Nafziger, will conduct all three of the festival’s main concerts and the Sunday Leipzig service.

An admirer of Bach’s music himself, McConnell specializes in early music, having previously been a lecturer-demonstrator of ancient keyboard instruments at the Smithsonian Institute. A singer, organist, pianist, and recorder player, McConnell stays active in retirement as a church musician, as a member of the Round Hill Recorder Consort, as a board member of both the Shenandoah Valley Bach Festival and Harrisonburg’s First Night, and by involvement with many activities in the local community, where he grew up.

McConnell earned a degree in English and spent 30 years teaching Russian and French in a high school in Fairfax County, while also serving as a computer instructor and online publications coordinator at the national headquarters of AARP, writing computer training manuals for the Department of Defense, building a harpsichord, forming and conducting the Reston Chamber Orchestra and serving as an organist and minister of music at several churches.

The lecture is open to the public free of charge.

“The community is invited to support this exceptional artistic endeavor by attending this 15th annual event at Eastern Mennonite University and enjoying the beautiful music of the Brahms Requiem, the Chopin piano concertos, South American music and much more,” said Mary Kay Adams, Bach Festival coordinator.

For more information about the festival, see or contact Mary Kay Adams at or 540-432-4652.