Thousands of students from Harrisonburg City Public Schools (HCPS) and Rockingham County Public Schools (RCPS) in Virginia will have the opportunity to enjoy live arts experiences thanks to a new partnership between the Eastern Mennonite University and Any Given Child-Shenandoah Valley.
The EMU music program has been named a Premier Artist Partner of AGC-Shenandoah Valley, a 501(c)(3) organization in a community partnership with the Education Department of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington D.C. focused on equitable arts access for K–8 students in HCPS and RCPS.
“We could not be more excited about this partnership,” said EMU music program director Professor David Berry. “Any Given Child-Shenandoah Valley is a wonderful organization doing great work on behalf of children in our community. As a university music program, we really desire to serve and be a part of the community. AGC’s purpose aligns so strongly with that value and I am excited for many great things to come from our partnership,”
Kimberly Souther, director of EMU’s Preparatory Music Program, is an AGC-Shenandoah Valley board member.
Three residency events—which include music, theater and dance performances, presentations and master classes in EMU’s Lehman Auditorium and local schools—are planned for fall 2022 and spring 2023, each reaching an estimated 4,000 students.
● Fall Artist Residency: From October 19–21, 2022, guest artist Barefoot Puppet Theater will perform and give presentations. Barefoot Puppet Theater is based out of Richmond, Virginia, and tours the country with its award-winning productions for young audiences.
● EMU Gala Partnership: World music artist Balla Kouyaté will perform with EMU ensembles and the Shenandoah Valley Youth Symphony at EMU’s annual gala concert, Truth and Light, Nov. 11, 2022. He will also host presentations and master classes to K–12 students. Originally from Mali, Kouyaté hails from an 800-year long family line of performers on the traditional Malian xylophone. He is a 2019 winner of the National Endowment for the Arts National Heritage Fellowship, which is the highest form of recognition for the folk and traditional arts from the United States government.
● Spring Artist Residency: EMU will host a three-day residency April 16–18, 2023, with Aura CuriAtlas, an innovative and internationally touring troupe of storytellers that blend dance, theater and acrobatics.