Shenandoah Valley Bach Festival set for June 12-19 in Harrisonburg

BachFestivalThe 24th annual Shenandoah Valley Bach Festival will take place June 12-19 in Harrisonburg, with concerts at Eastern Mennonite University’s Lehman Auditorium, 1191 Park Road, and First Presbyterian Church, 17 Court Square.

Festival Concert 1, June 12 at 3:00 p.m. at EMU, entitled “The Colors of Bach Cantatas,” features several of the composer’s cantatas performed by the Festival Chamber Choir and Orchestra, along with vocal soloists Christine Glick Fairfield (soprano) of Staunton, Joel Ross (countertenor) and David Newman (baritone) of Harrisonburg, and Brian Thorsett (tenor) of Blacksburg. The audience will be invited to join the musicians in singing the well-known Jesu, joy of man’s desiring.

“An Early Music Concert” is the theme for Festival Concert 2, June 17 at 7:30 p.m. at EMU, with internationally acclaimed countertenor Nathan Medley, a 2005 graduate of Harrisonburg High School, and virtuosic recorderist Nancy Buckingham Garlick of Charlottesville, who will perform Vivaldi and Vinci recorder concertos with the Festival Orchestra. Joining Medley will be another countertenor, Tommy Tutwiler, Medley’s choral director at H.H.S., and members of the H.H.S. Choir, whose current director is Bethany Houff.

Festival Concert 3 presents “Rural Roots,” a 20th-century orchestral concert showcasing the Festival Orchestra in works by Aaron Copland (Appalachian Spring and Quiet City), Virgil Thomson (The Plow That Broke the Plains), and Alberto Ginastera (Estancia).

Tickets for all three performances can be purchased online (, by phone (540-432-4582), or at the EMU Box Office. $27 (adult), $22 (senior), $5 (ages 22 & under); season tickets and group discounts are available.

The Noon Chamber Music Series takes place daily at noon from June 13 – 18 at First Presbyterian Church, with Festival musicians being featured in small ensemble settings. Details for those concerts can be seen online at

The 24th season concludes with the cherished Leipzig Service, modeled on services during Bach’s years as a church musician in Leipzig, Germany, during the Baroque era, on June 19 at 10:00 a.m. at EMU. Nathan Medley and the Festival Orchestra will perform Bach Cantata No. 170; Brett Davis, pastor of Harrisonburg’s Muhlenburg Lutheran Church, will deliver the homily; Marvin Mills of Baltimore, MD, will perform on organ; and the audience will participate by singing.

Admission for the Noon Chamber Music Series and Leipzig Service are free, and donations to the festival are gratefully received.

Founder and Artistic Director/Conductor Ken Nafziger has provided leadership for this festival, which was named “the jewel in Harrisonburg’s crown” by the Virginia Commission for the Arts, for almost a quarter of a century and continues in that role.