Featured soprano Anne Gross performs Samuel Barber's "Knoxville: Summer 1915" with the Festival Orchestra in Bach Festival Concert II, June 18, 2010; Kenneth Nafziger, conductor. Photo by Lindsey Kolb

Bach, Mozart Intersect at EMU Festival

It’s a match made in musical heaven.

Two classical giants will meet on the Lehman Auditorium stage at Eastern Mennonite University, not to compete against but to complement each other at the 19th annual Shenandoah Valley Bach Festival, June 12-19, 2011.

The glorious works of German composer Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750) and Austrian composer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756-1791)) will fill the air throughout the week under the baton of Dr. Kenneth Nafziger, artistic director and conductor.

The festival will open 3 p.m. Sunday, June 12 with four concertos – Bach’s “Concerto for Oboe, Violin and Strings in C Minor,” “Concerto for Cello and Orchestra in C Major” by Haydn, “Sinfonia Concertante, K. 297” by Mozart, and Concerto No. 4 for Piano and Orchestra in G Major, Op. 58” by Beethoven. All featured soloists are principal players from the festival orchestra except for the Beethoven concerto with Nicolás Pellón, currently on the faculty of the International School of Music in Bethesda, Md.

The second major festival concert, at 7:30 p.m. Friday, June 17, features Menotti’s “The Telephone,” a funny one-act opera about Ben, Lucy and a telephone that gets in the way of Ben being able to ask Lucy to marry him. Soloists are Sharla Nafziger from New York and Tom Jones from Boston, both featured artists in previous seasons.

Also on the same program will be Bach’s “Orchestral Suite No. 4 in D Major” and his “Cantata No. 49” along with Mozart’s “Symphony No. 29 in A Major, K.201.”

The third festival concert, at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, June 18, features an all-Mozart repertoire with the “Great Mass in C Minor” for chorus, soloists and orchestra and the overture and act 2 from “The Marriage of Figaro” with soloists and orchestra.

An ensemble of Bach Festival musicians presents a free noon concert that will be offered again Monday through Saturday at Asbury United Methodist Church, downtown Harrisonburg. Photo by Jim Bishop

Again this year, festival musicians will perform music from all eras and many composers in small ensemble settings at noon Monday through Saturday at Asbury United Methodist Church, 205 S. Main St. Admission is free; donations are encouraged.

A high point of the Bach Festival for many each year is the Leipzig Service 10 a.m. Sunday, June 19, a recreation of an 18th century worship service at St. Thomas Lutheran Church in Leipzig, Germany, where Bach was cantor and composed a cantata for each week’s service.

Margaret Foth, former radio program speaker, is homilist for the Leipzig service. The orchestra and choir will perform Bach’s “Cantata #172” with soloists Sharla Nafziger, Carrie Stevens, Daniel Buchanan and Tom Jones. Marvin Mills, organist, will play Mozart’s “Church Sonata #15″ as part of the service.

As part of the Bach Festival, the faculty for the Virginia Baroque Performance Academy – Arthur Haas,  Martha McGaughey and Linda Quan – will play on period instruments, demonstrating the Baroque style and ornamentation typical at the time of Bach in a recital 5:30 p.m. Monday, June 13, at Asbury United Methodist Church. They will also instruct participants all week on how to play music in the style of that era.

“The mission of the Shenandoah Valley Bach Festival is to honor the creative spirit of Johann Sebastian Bach with first-rate performances for an ever widening audience,” said Mary Kay Adams, Bach Festival coordinator and principal flutist in the festival orchestra.

“Each year’s program pairs the music of Bach with music of other composers, eras, or styles, so that no two festivals are ever the same,”  Adams noted. “There will always be new surprises awaiting the audience at each festival concert.”

Advance tickets are available at the EMU Box Office, 540-432-4582 or may be purchased on line at emu.edu/bach/tickets. They will also be available at the door at slightly higher prices.

The complete program for the week is available on line at www.emu.edu/bach. For other questions, call 540-432-4652 or email: bach@emu.edu.