Bach Festival Offers ‘Sneak Preview’ Talks

What’s on the smorgasbord menu for the 16th annual Shenandoah Valley Bach Festival?

One tasteful way to find out is to attend a series of talks designed to prepare the community for the Bach Festival, coming up June 8-15 at EMU.

Mary Kay Adams, EMU's Bach Festival executive director
Mary Kay Adams, Bach Festival executive director

“Each presentation will preview some of the music to be performed during the festival and give information about the festival program,” said Mary Kay Adams, the festival’s executive director.

“For those who haven’t attended the festival, it’s an excellent opportunity to learn firsthand about it. Previous concert goers will enjoy hearing what new things are in store this season,” she added.

Schedule for Talks

Mary Kay Adams will speak at 2 p.m. Thursday, May 15, in the Houff Community Center’s Alexander Mack Room at Bridgewater Retirement Community.

Festival board members Adair McConnell and Don R. Smith, along with Adams, will talk at 2 p.m. Tuesday, May 20, in the Bethesda Theater at Sunnyside Retirement Community and again at 2 p.m. Thursday, May 22, in Strite Auditorium at Virginia Mennonite Retirement Community. The presentations are free and open to the public.

“This year’s festival theme, ‘Bach and String Things,’ will feature music that displays the incredible range of sounds possible with string instruments,” Adams noted.

Featured Artists

Eugene Friesen
Eugene Friesen

Among the guest artists is Eugene Friesen, an internationally-active cellist, composer, conductor and teacher. The two-time Grammy Award winner and member of the Paul Winter Consort teaches at the Berklee College of Music in Boston.

Friesen’s love for children prompted him to create his popular “Cello Man Show,” used to foster an appreciation of music in younger audiences. This show will be performed at noon June 14 at Asbury United Methodist Church, downtown Harrisonburg. Several of his works will be featured during concerts at EMU on June 13 and 14 at 7:30 and on June 15 at 10 a.m.

Michael Partington
Michael Partington

Another guest artist, Michael Partington, is internationally known as a guitarist, teacher and adjudicator. The Seattle resident is director of the guitar program at the University of Washington.

This is his second appearance with our festival and he will be performing the “Castelnuovo-Tedesco Concerto” on June 8 and the “Rodrigo Concerto” on June 14.

Other soloists will include Anastasia Jellison, harp; Bradley Lehman, harpsichord; David Newman, baritone; and Joan Griffing, violin.

Noon Concerts

Again this year, chamber music concerts with Bach Festival artists will be presented noon-1 p.m. in the sanctuary at Asbury United Methodist Church, downtown Harrisonburg. Admission to these programs is free; donations are welcomed. See the schedule of noon concerts…

For more information about the festival or to purchase tickets, see or call the EMU box office at (540) 432-4582.