Shenandoah Valley Bach Festival celebrates 30 years and artistic director transition

The Shenandoah Valley Bach Festival (SVBF) celebrates two monumental occasions: its 30th anniversary and the retirement of founder and artistic director Ken Nafziger after 30 years of leadership. 

The festival, held from June 12-19, will include three Festival Concerts, free noon recitals, a workshop from internationally acclaimed Virginia Baroque Performance Academy, and much more. Kicking off the festival in Lehman Auditorium is the first Festival Concert on Sunday, June 12 at 3 p.m. 

The opening festival concert includes the classic Brandenburg Concertos 1 and 3 by J.S. Bach; a trombone concerto by Nino Rota featuring SVBF artist Jay Crone; and a fun and creative Beatles-inspired suite by Cuban composer Leo Brouwer featuring guitarist Michael Partington.

The June 18 concert will feature the Mass in B Minor by J.S. Bach. Nafziger will conduct this monumental work as his Bach Festival farewell, according to Executive Director Amanda Gookin. “As Bach’s final work marks a lifetime of faith and music, so does this concert represent the cumulative impact Ken has made on the arts in our community.”

Tickets are pay-what-you-can from $10-40 for the three Festival Concerts and the Baroque Faculty Concert. All seating is general admission. Purchase through the EMU Box Office. Door sales and will-call opens two hours before each event. Tickets for EMU and JMU students are free with proof of ID. Masks are required to attend.

Free concerts include a children’s concert and poetry reading at the Massanutten Regional Library in Harrisonburg, the Noon Chamber Music Series, held Monday through Friday at Asbury United Methodist Church, and the Leipzig Service on Sunday, June 19, at 11 a.m. in Lehman Auditorium.

This year’s featured artists include pianist and incoming artistic director David Berry, soprano Veronica Chapman-Smith, trombonist Jay Crone, countertenor Patrick Dailey, baritone John Fulton, tenor Kenneth Gayle, soprano Michele Kennedy, and guitarist Michael Partington. Berry is an assistant professor and chair of EMU’s Music Department.

In addition to the featured performers, the Virginia Baroque Performance Academy, founded and directed by Lynne Mackey, will offer a concert by its internationally acclaimed artist faculty, and another by students from its SVBF session. Workshop participants will perform chamber music, and also the Antonio Caldara “Il Giuoco del Quadriglio” (The Card Game) will be staged.