‘A Bach Festival Christmas’ to usher in holiday spirit

The Shenandoah Valley Bach Festival, now in its 28th season, will celebrate the holidays with “A Bach Festival Christmas” concert featuring soprano Susan Gouthro, trumpet player Christine Carrillo, and pianist David Berry performing classical favorites and holiday gems.

The concert will be Tuesday, Dec. 10, at 7:30 p.m. in Martin Chapel in the EMU Seminary. This popular annual concert is free and open to the public; donations will be gratefully accepted to benefit the Shenandoah Valley Bach Festival.

A reception will follow the concert.

About the artists

David Berry, assistant professor of music at Eastern Mennonite University, is an active classical pianist whose performances have been featured in venues such as Carnegie Hall, Merkin Hall, the UW World Series at the University of Washington, as well as live broadcasts of WQXR (New York City). Recent concerto engagements have included appearances with the Shenandoah Valley Bach Festival Orchestra and the Hudson Symphony Orchestra.

As a performer of new music, he has worked with or premiered works by a number of noted composers, including James Lee III, Jeffery Scott (Imani Winds) and Grammy-award winning composer Jennifer Higdon. David was a featured soloist in the Juilliard School’s Focus Festival, All About Elliott, celebrating the 100th birthday of Elliott Carter, and also featured in piano series’ hosted by author David Dubal at the Kosciusko Foundation and the Cervantes Institute. David was the Grand Prize Winner of the Bradshaw and Buono International Piano Competition, as well as a prizewinner in the Thousand Islands International Piano Competition.

An avid chamber musician, Berry has collaborated with members of many of the nation’s leading orchestras, including the New Jersey, Houston, St. Louis, Dallas, and Seattle symphonies. He has toured and regularly concertized as a resident member of the Jacksonville, Florida based Ritz Chamber Players, The Harlem Chamber Players, and the innovative chamber music theater group, the Core Ensemble. As an arts administrator, David serves as Chair of Chamber Music Programs for the Gateways Music Festival at the Eastman School of Music, a biennial festival which celebrates the contributions of musicians of African descent to classical music, and features over 120 players from major American orchestras and university faculties across the United States.

David received his Bachelor of Music with High Distinction from the Eastman School of Music, and Masters and Doctor of Musical Arts degrees in piano performance from the Juilliard School where he was a recipient of the C.V. Starr Doctoral Fellowship and Susan W. Rose Piano Scholarship.

Conn-Selmer trumpet artist Christine Ennis Carrillo is the Director of Instrumental Music and Chair of the Department of Music at Bridgewater College in Bridgewater, Virginia.  Carillo has performed with a wide variety of ensembles including the New Orchestra of Washington, Shenandoah Valley Bach Festival, Madison Brass Quintet, Virginia Brass Consort, Victoria Symphony, Corpus Christi Symphony, Keith Brion and his New Sousa Band, Audio Inversions Contemporary Music Ensemble, The Oratorio Society of Virginia and the Massanutten Brass Band as well as performances at Carnegie Hall, The Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts and the City Recital Hall Angel Place in Sydney, Australia. 

She holds a Doctor of Musical Arts and Master of Music in Trumpet Performance from The University of Texas at Austin, and dual Bachelor of Music degrees in Music Education and Trumpet Performance from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. 

Canadian soprano Susan Gouthro currently resides in Virginia, where she is pursuing a Doctoral of Musical Arts degree in Voice Performance, Pedagogy and Literature at James Madison University with voice professor Kevin McMillan. Prior to beginning her doctorate, she lived in Europe for fifteen years working as a professional opera singer. Gouthro was a permanent member of the solo ensemble at the opera house in Kiel, Germany from 2002 to 2014.  There she performed many of the most important roles in the lyric soprano repertoire. Mozart roles include Pamina in The Magic Flute, Donna Anna in Don Giovanni and Fiordiligi in Cosi fan tutte.  French opera roles include Micaela in Carmen, Marguerite in Faust, Antonia in The Tales of Hoffmann, and the title role in Manon.  Favorite Italian roles performed include Liu in Turandot, both Mimi and Musetta in La Bohème, as well as Violetta in La Traviata. Her diversity extends to German operetta (Hanna Gawari in The Merry Widow and Rosalinde in Die Fledermaus) and the first forays into Wagner repertoire with Eva in Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg. Czech roles which round out this singers’ repertoire are the title roles in The Cunning Little Vixen and Rusalka, as well as Marie in The Bartered Bride

In 2015-16 she was celebrated as the opera-diva Carlotta in the musical The Phantom of the Opera at the Metronom Theater in Oberhausen, Germany, singing eight shows a week for one year.  Also an active concert singer, Gouthro regularly sings Oratorio as well as performing song recitals and modern music.  After completing her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in Canada, Gouthro moved to Marseille, France where she was chosen to take part in the one-year CNIPAL young artist program.

About the festival

The Shenandoah Valley Bach Festival 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 festival takes place on the campus of Eastern Mennonite University in Harrisonburg, Virginia.

Three featured concerts with orchestra, soloists, and choir; six chamber music concerts; a Leipzig Service; and open rehearsals infuse the Valley with unequaled musical richness. 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. The quality of the performances is first-rate.

The Festival, widely recognized for its artistic excellence, has been named the “jewel in Harrisonburg’s crown” by the Virginia Commission for the Arts.