Soprano Sheena Ramirez has been thrilling classical audiences around the world. She comes to Harrisonburg for a Nov. 27 performance of "A Bach Festival Christmas" at Martin Chapel, Eastern Mennonite Seminary. The evening concert is free, but donations are appreciated. (Photo by Jessica Weaver)

‘A Bach Festival Christmas’ performance features Bach, Handel, Vivaldi and carols

The Shenandoah Valley Bach Festival, now in its 27th season, will celebrate the holidays with “A Bach Festival Christmas” Tuesday, November 27, 2018 at 7:30 p.m. The performance will take place in Martin Chapel at Eastern Mennonite Seminary. The concert is free and open to the public; donations will be gratefully accepted to benefit the Shenandoah Valley Bach Festival.

This festive concert will feature soprano Sheena Ramirez, trumpet player Judith Saxton, trombonist Jay Crone, pianist David Berry, and the Bach Festival String Quartet. Artistic Director Kenneth Nafziger will lead the assembled forces in works of Bach, Handel, and Vivaldi, plus some of the season’s most famous carols.

A reception will follow the concert.

About the artists

Sheena Ramirez, described as a “light, perky soprano” (New York Times) has been thrilling classical audiences all over the country and around the world. This summer she presented a solo voice and organ recital in the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in Scotland and participated in the Opera Studio program at the American Institute of Musical Studies (AIMS) in Graz, Austria. In 2015, she won “Best Female Voice” at the International Gilbert and Sullivan Festival in Harrogate, England as the lead in Patience with the Blue Hill Troupe. She sang leading roles in the American premiers of Olivo e Pasquale (Isabella) and I Due Figaro (Inez) with New York City Opera company Amore Opera, as well as the roles of Pamina (Die Zauberflöte), Frasquita (Carmen), and Gretel (Hansel and Gretel).  In 2016, she began work on her Doctorate in Voice Performance, Pedagogy, and Literature at James Madison University. In her time there, she has sung the role of Cunegonde (Candide), performed solo works at the Contemporary Music Festival, all while serving as the Director of Recruitment for the College of Visual and Performing Arts.  Sheena is a graduate of Oberlin Conservatory (BM) and New England Conservatory (MM).

David Berry, a native of Syracuse, NY, is an active soloist and chamber musician. Berry earned his BM from the Eastman School of Music, and MM and DMA degrees in piano performance from the Juilliard School. He currently serves as Assistant Professor of Music at Eastern Mennonite University.

Jay Crone, professor of music, joined the Virginia Tech faculty in 1994. Mr. Crone is currently the Principal Trombone of the Roanoke Symphony Orchestra, Opera Roanoke, the Wintergreen Festival Orchestra, the Shenandoah Valley Bach Festival Orchestra, and also performs regularly with the Richmond Symphony (VA).

Judith Saxton is an international trumpet soloist, chamber and orchestral musician, and educator across the U.S. and recently in China, Greece, UK, Italy and Brazil. She is on the Eastern Music Festival faculty and has over 20 recordings. She is a Conn Selmer Trumpet Artist and Certified Alexander Technique Teacher.

About the festival

The Shenandoah Valley Bach Festival . on the campus of Eastern Mennonite University, is a week-long summer music festival devoted to promoting an appreciation and understanding of the music of Bach and a featured composer, country, era or people.  The week includes three featured concerts with orchestra, soloists, and choir; six chamber music concerts; a Leipzig Service; and open rehearsals. Additional offerings include internships, youth programs, Road Scholar (Elderhostel), and the Virginia Baroque Performance Academy.

The Festival Orchestra, with its fine professional musicians from all over the country, produces vibrant performances. Membership in the Festival Choir, a volunteer ensemble, is open to the public and allows vocalists, both amateur and professional, to sing the most celebrated works of the orchestral-choral repertoire.

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