‘March Piano Madness’ comes to EMU

Effective immediately, EMU has cancelled all public events through April 3 in response to concerns about COVID-19. This event may be rescheduled.

For more information about EMU’s COVID-19 action plan, visit emu.edu/coronavirus.

In March, EMU hosts two concerts in the Music Faculty Artist Series — each a rare opportunity.

March 14, 7 p.m., with Jonathan Keener ’07 

In Martin Chapel, Jonathan Keener ’07 will perform three of Ludwig van Beethoven’s most celebrated pieces in honor of the 250th anniversary of the composer’s birth. The program includes Piano Sonata No. 8 in C minor, Op. 13 (Pathétique), Piano Sonata No. 14 in C♯ minor, Op.27 (Moonlight), and Piano Sonata No. 21 in C major, Op. 53 (Waldstein).

Professor David Berry, music department chair, noted an all-Beethoven recital is “a special feat.”

“We are excited to have an excellent music alumnus like Jonathan return home to EMU and give his gifts back to our students and community,” said Berry. “This is a special opportunity to hear these three sonatas all in one evening, as each sonata is a world unto itself and no two are alike.”

March 21, 7 p.m. with David Berry and fellow faculty

Berry performs in Martin Chapel with EMU faculty members Jacob Roege and Steffany Shock, violin; and Patrick Bellah, cello. Violist Kathleen Overfield-Zook, from James Madison University, will also join this event, which is sponsored by Vacanti Violins.

This recital will feature two of the most beloved chamber music masterworks of the Romantic era by Dvořák and Brahms. In addition to being two of the most passionate, beautiful and exciting works in the chamber music genre, both piano quartets are significantly influenced by the folk music that the composers heard around them at the time, Slavonic folk dances and gypsy music,” Berry said.

He will also present an original solo arrangement inspired by both composers and their love of folk music, with some special stylistic twists of his own.

More on Jonathan Keener and his concert program

Keener, a Lancaster County native, currently serves internationally in East Asia with his wife, Claire, and their three children. He leads the piano department of the YaGe Community Arts Center.  Keener earned his DMA at James Madison University, where he has been an adjunct professor. He also taught at Indiana Wesleyan University, Ivy Tech Community College, teaching assistant at the Brevard Music Center, and an administrator of the Christian Performing Artists’ Fellowship, which sponsors the MasterWorks Festival. Keener was the winner of the VMTA Concerto Competition, MTNA Solo Piano Competition for Virginia, EMU and JMU concerto competitions, and twice finalist of the BMC Piano Competition.

Of his upcoming concert at EMU, Keener writes:

I started learning piano from my mother at the age of 8, and after a couple years of pushing through the early years of the Suzuki method with minimal interest in my part, I started really enjoying playing the piano when I got to the level of Clementi Sonatinas, but I’ll never forget, at about age 11, when my cousin gave me a recording of three Beethoven Sonatas: the “Pathetique”, “Moonlight” and “Waldstein” piano sonatas. I never in my wildest dreams imagined that piano music could sound like this.

The fire and drive of the first movement of Pathetique and final movement of Moonlight, the dreaminess of the first movement of the Moonlight, the harmonic inventiveness of the opening movement of Waldstein, and the spiritually deep finale of the Waldstein, all aroused emotions in me I couldn’t even put into words. I distinctly my mother telling me to “turn it down” (how often does that happen for classical music?!)

These pieces turned me on to classical music, a love that has followed me to this day. For this reason, I have a very special relationship with these three pieces. Though I have performed all of them separately at various times, it’s always been a dream of mine to perform them together. Since this year is the 250th anniversary of Beethoven’s birth, it seemed a good opportunity to share these three lovely pieces with you all.

More on David Berry and fellow faculty artists

Berry will perform Piano Quartet No. 2 in E flat major, (Op. 87) by Antonin Dvořák (1841-1904), Piano Quartet No. 1 in G minor, Op. 25 by Johannes Brahms (1833-1897), and his own “Ode to Dvořák and Brahms.”

David Berry is an active classical pianist whose performances have been featured in venues such as The Kimmel Center, Carnegie Hall, Merkin Hall, as well as live broadcasts of WQXR (New York City). As a performer of new music, he has worked with or premiered works by a number of noted composers, including Adolphus Hailstork, James Lee III, Jeffery Scott (Imani Winds) and grammy-award winning composer Jennifer Higdon. He 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. He 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, David 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. In addition to his accomplishments as a classical musician, David is an avid improviser of jazz, gospel, and popular contemporary piano styles, and also enjoys composing his own concert arrangements of hymns. 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.

Jacob Roege has built a versatile career as a performer, teacher, and administrator in the arts. He has worked in a wide variety of genres from Baroque and Classical to contemporary video game music, as well as musicals, opera, and rock shows. He has performed with the Roanoke, Lansing, Jackson, Fairfax, and UNISA Orchestras, and currently serves as Associate Concertmaster of the Waynesboro Symphony.  As a violinist with the Triforce Quartet, he has performed internationally to sold out crowds and recorded three albums, as well as a collaboration with Japanese composer, Saori Kobayashi. Jake teaches violin at James Madison University as well as Eastern Mennonite University. He was honored to join the Shenandoah Valley Bach Festival in 2018, continuing this year as Principal Second Violin.

He received a B.M. in Music Industry at James Madison University and an M.M. in Violin Performance at Michigan State University. He has worked with violinists Elisabeth Adkins and Ilya Kaler, as well as the Cypress and Shanghai String Quartets.

Violinist Steffany Shock began her musical studies as a child in Toledo, Ohio, where she studied with Eugene Goldberg, who was a student of Maurice Warner. As an orchestra musician, she has performed extensively with groups in Northwest Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Virginia.  She currently works as a freelance violinist in the Washington D.C. area and performs regularly with the American Festival Pops Orchestra and the Washington Concert Opera. Steffany holds a Doctorate of Musical Arts from James Madison University, where she was the teaching assistant for Wanchi Huang, a Masters of Musical Arts from Pennsylvania State University, and a Bachelor of Music from Bowling Green State University. 

Kathleen Overfield-Zook, originally from Essex, Vermont, began playing viola at the age of 9. She holds both a Bachelor and Master of Music degree in Viola Performance from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. While living in Michigan Kathleen performed with many of Michgan’s regional orchestras, including positions the Greater Lansing, Midland, Jackson and Dearborn Symphonies. She spent several summers at the Meadowmount School of Music, working with such great chamber musicians and pedagogues as David Salness and Charles Avsharian. She has played principal viola at the National Orchestral Institute in College Park, Maryland and traveled to Graz, Austria as part of the AIMS Festival Orchestra. After moving back to the east coast, Kathleen has led an active freelance career, holding positions with Allentown and Vermont Symphonies as well as performing regularly with the New Jersey Symphony orchestra under the baton of Neeme Jarvi. Now living in Virginia, she can be seen playing with Richmond and Roanoke Symphonies as well as continuing her tenure as Assistant Principal viola in the Harrisburg (PA) Symphony Orchestra.

Kathleen served on faculty at the Westminster Conservatory of Music in Princeton, NJ for several years before joining the faculty of James Madison University in the fall of 2010.

Praised by legendary Polish cellist Kazimierz Michalik for his “musical honesty,” Patrick Bellah has made it a priority in performance to connect with his audiences in a memorable fashion. He is a native of Fort Smith, Arkansas, and a graduate of the Bass School of Music at Oklahoma City University, and of the University of Arkansas. He has performed nationally as a chamber musician, orchestral cellist, and internationally as a soloist at the Kołobrzeg International Music Festival in Kołobrzeg, Poland. As a chamber musician, Patrick has performed with a wide variety of ensembles, most notably with the Northwest Arkansas String Quartet, which was featured on Public Radio International’s Performance Today during his tenure as cellist with the group. He is currently the cellist of the Shepherd Quartet, which was named as a preferred performing artist at the historic estate of Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello.

Patrick also enjoys a busy life as an orchestral cellist, having performed with numerous ensembles throughout the states of Arkansas, Oklahoma, Louisiana, Texas, and Virginia, and even briefly serving as acting Principal Cellist of the Arkansas Philharmonic Orchestra. During his time with these orchestras, he has shared the stage with soloists such as Alexander Markov, Vadim Gluzman, Cicely Parnas, Zuil Bailey, and many others. Recently, he collaborated with the critically-acclaimed Harlem Quartet in their music outreach program in the Shenandoah Valley region of Virginia. He is currently the adjunct instructor of cello at Eastern Mennonite University and the Suzuki cello instructor at EMU’s preparatory music academy. He is in the final stages of finishing his doctoral dissertation at James Madison University, where he is pursuing a doctorate in cello performance under the tutelage of Dr. Carl Donakowski.