‘Bach Admirers’ to be Featured at Festival

The 15th annual Shenandoah Valley Bach Festival at Eastern Mennonite University will spotlight composers from many cultures who were strongly influenced by the prolific German composer.

The program opens Sunday, June 10 and concludes with the popular Leipzig worship service June 17.

Dr. Kenneth Nafziger directs the orchestra and choir in Bach’s “Mass in B Minor” to open the 2006 festival.
Photo by Jim Bishop

“Since Felix Mendelssohn’s revival of Bach’s ‘St. Matthew Passion’ in 1829, composers have been inspired by the monumental music of the late Baroque master,” said Kenneth J. Nafziger, artistic director and conductor of the festival. “The circle of admirers includes all who participate in Bach festivals around the world and musicians from many cultures who have made his music their own.”

The opening concert, at 3 p.m. Sunday, June 10, in Lehman Auditorium. will feature Bach’s “Concerto for 2 Violins and Strings in D Minor” with violinists Joan Griffing and Susan Black; “Bachianas brasileiras, No. 1” by Heitor Villa-Lobos, Mendelssohn’s’ “String Symphony No. 5 in B-flat Major” and “Las Cuatro Estaciones Portenas” (The Four Seasons) by Astor Piazzola.

Janina Fialkowska, pianistJanina Fialkowska, pianist

Major festival concerts will be held at 7:30 p.m. Friday, June 15 and 7:30 p.m. Saturday, June 16 in Lehman Auditorium. Friday’s program will feature the brilliant artistry of pianist Janina Fialkowska in two concertos for piano and orchestra by Frederic Chopin, along with Bach’s “Orchestral Suite No. 1 in C Major and Carl Philipp Emmanuel Bach’s “Symphony in E-flat Major.”

Saturday night’s program will draw on the combined talents of the Bach festival orchestra and choir with guest soloists Sharla Nafziger, soprano, and Thomas Jones, bass, in performing Johannes Brahms’ “Requiem.”

Chamber music programs with instrumentalists and vocalists from the festival will be presented noon-1 p.m. Monday through Saturday, June 11-16, at Asbury United Methodist Church, S. Main St., in Harrisonburg. Admission is free; donations are welcomed.

The festival will conclude with the annual Leipzig service at 10 a.m. June 17 in Lehman Auditorium, often cited by many attendees as the highlight of the week. The program recreates an 18th century worship service at St. Thomas Lutheran Church in Leipzig, Germany, where Bach was cantor and conducted a cantata for each week’s service.

The Shenandoah Valley Bach Festival is sponsored in part by the Virginia Commission for the Arts and the Arts Council of the Valley.

Bach Festival tickets are available on-line at www.emu.edu/bach or by calling the EMU box office at 540-432-4582.