‘Spring Into Bach’ presents music, storytelling, and more

The Shenandoah Valley Bach Festival season kicks off with the “Spring Into Bach” virtual concert on April 29 at 7:30 p.m. Eight artists hailing from the valley to New York City will perform Bach, Americana, original storytelling, and everything in between. Read more about the artists below.

The event will be emceed by Kimberlea Daggy, the host of “All Things Considered” on WMRA, the NPR news station for Charlottesville and the Shenandoah Valley. Daggy also hosts “Airplay,” a program highlighting local, classical musicians and ensembles on WEMC, Harrisonburg’s all-classical station.

Tickets are $15, and pre-registration is required by 4 p.m. the day of the concert. Register online here.

“I’m thrilled to bring these amazing artists together for an intimate evening of conversation, spoken word, and music,” said Amanda Gookin, executive director of the festival. “The sunny side of virtual performance is it provides wider access for people to attend events all over the world. Each of these inspiring artists exude an incredible level of creativity, artistry, and passion in their work. I hope many viewers in the Shenandoah Valley and beyond will tune in – this is an event not to miss!”

This exhibition also features an online auction to benefit the Bach Festival that will be open from April 26 to May 10. Available items include handcrafted furniture, a portrait photography session, massages, and a week-long stay at an arts-and-recreation retreat in upstate New York. 

From left, top row: Shirley Showalter, Joanne V. Gabbin, Suliman Tekalli, Sterling Elliott. From left, bottom row: Eric Guinivan, Clymer & Kurtz, Jen Arnold, Zhenni Li.

The featured artists are:

  • Jen Arnold, violist. Arnold is the director of artistic planning and orchestral operations of the Richmond Symphony. Previously, she spent 14 years playing viola with the Oregon Symphony in Portland, where she also taught private lessons and led the Oregon American String Teachers Association.
  • Clymer & Kurtz, Americana duo. Singer Maria Clymer and guitarist Christopher Kurtz were 2019 recipients of the Advancing the Arts Creative Inspirations grant from the Arts Council of the Valley.
  • Sterling Elliott, cellist. Elliott is a 2021 Avery Fisher Career Grant recipient and has soloed with the New York Philharmonic, Cleveland Symphony Orchestra, Boston Symphony Orchestra, Virginia Symphony Orchestra, Hilton Head Symphony Orchestra, New World Symphony, Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra, San Francisco Chamber Orchestra, and many more. He also performed at the 2019 World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. 
  • Joanne V. Gabbin, poet. Gabbin is the founder and executive director of the Furious Flower Poetry Center, the first and only academic center devoted to Black poetry. She is also a professor of English at James Madison University, founder and organizer of the Wintergreen Women Writers’ Collective, and owner of the 150 Franklin Street Gallery.
  • Eric Guinivan, composer. Guinivan’s music has been performed across the U.S., Europe, and Asia. He has received commissions from Chamber Music America, the Fromm Foundation at Harvard University, New York Youth Symphony, and many more. He was a founding member of the GRAMMY-nominated Los Angeles Percussion Quartet.
  • Zhenni Li, pianist. Li has performed at Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center’s Alice Tully Hall, Merkin Hall, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and many other notable venues across the globe. Her many awards include the 2017 New York Concert Artists Worldwide Debut Audition, Astral Artist’s 2016 National Auditions, the Grieg International Competition in Norway, and the unanimous 1st Prize at the Concours Musical de France.
  • Shirley Showalter, author. Showalter published her first book, a memoir titled Blush: A Mennonite Girl Meets a Glittering World in 2013. Her second, The Mindful Grandparent: The Art of Loving Our Children’s Children, is forthcoming in May 2022. Previously, Showalter was a professor of English and then president at Goshen College, and vice president of programs at The Fetzer Institute.
  • Suliman Tekalli, violinist. Tekalli is a top-prize winner of the Seoul International Music Competition, and a prize winner in the Sendai International Music Competition, International Violin Competition “Rudolfo Lipizer Prize,” and Henryk Szeryng Music Festival. He has performed throughout the U.S., Canada, Central America, Europe, and Asia.