Staunton Music Festival Brings World-Class Music To Virginia


STAUNTON, Va. – Described as “Virginia’s world-class music festival” by Travel + Leisure and a “Critic’s Pick” by The Washington Post, this European-style festival runs ten days and includes more than 20 musical events. The entire festival takes place in historic downtown Staunton in the Shenandoah Valley.

What:           Eclectic festival featuring an acclaimed gathering of international musicians.

When:          August 12 – August 21, 2016

Where:         All events take place in venues of historic significance that offer exceptional acoustics.

The 2016 Staunton Music Festival opens with a boisterous Royal Handel Extravaganza, and concludes ten days later with a period-instrument performance of Bach’s powerful Mass in B Minor.

This year, the Staunton Music Festival will welcome a dozen new musicians to join roughly 50 returning performers from last season.  Among the acclaimed roster of performers are Heini Kärkkäinen (pianist), Aisslinn Nosky (violin), Minna Pensola (violin), Nina Stern (recorder, clarinet), Andrew Willis (fortepiano), Igor Begelman (clarinet), Kris Kwapis (trumpet), Sara Couden (contralto), Vladimir Mendelssohn (viola and composer) and more.  In addition, SMF’s composer in residence program underscores the festival’s commitment to some of the world’s most exciting living composers, such as Stefan Heucke of Germany and Richmond-native Zachary Wadsworth.

The festival does not shy away from eclectic, intriguing, and unusual programs – which can span more than 500 years of musical history in a single evening.  Selected concert highlights of the 2016 season include:

Dancing with the Devil | Sunday, August 14

Enjoy an evening of devilish music in the spectacular setting of Blackfriars Playhouse, the world’s only re-creation of Shakespeare’s indoor theater. Program features music by Mozart, Saint-Saens, Wadsworth, Gesualdo, and culminates with a staged version of Stravinsky’s “A Soldier’s Tale” featuring members of the Starr Foster modern dance company.

Early Keyboard Extravaganza | Tuesday, August 16

Featuring one of the finest performance collections of early keyboards anywhere on the East Coast, this concert includes four harpsichords, two fortepianos, and two organs in repertoire from the Renaissance to 20th century. Program includes concertos by JS Bach, Mozart, and Mendelssohn, and works by CPE Bach, Böhm, and Takemitsu.

Ludwig Van | Wednesday, August 17

Composers do not come any larger than Ludwig van Beethoven. This concert celebrates both the familiar and unfamiliar: the “Pastoral” Symphony No. 6 and a “Knight’s Ballet” with dancers from Staunton Academy of Ballet. Plus works by Saint-Saens and a world premiere work for percussion ensemble inspired by the Viennese master.

Baroque Inside/Out | Friday, August 19

An audience favorite, this concert features four of Bach’s Brandenburg Concertos on period instruments. The program also includes arias and choruses by Bach, as well as various musical “surprises” outside during intermission. (The other two Brandenburgs can be heard earlier in the day at the noon concert.)

Titans and Trifles | Saturday, August 20

Great things come in small packages…and sometimes, in large ones too. Enjoy the best of music large and small. The first half features assorted miniature gems by Bach, Satie, Rachmaninoff, Webern and others, while the second half presents a stunning chamber arrangement of Mahler’s Symphony No. 1, subtitled “Titan.”

Bach Mass in B Minor | Sunday, August 21

World-class vocalists and chamber orchestra performing on period instruments present one of the towering works in music history.  Bach’s incredible Mass in B Minor has been admired and beloved since its completion in 1749, just a year before Bach died.

Season passes and evening performance tickets are on sale now by calling 540-569-0267 or visiting Staunton Music Festival. All other concerts, lectures, and workshops are free and open to the public.  All ages are welcome.

Staunton Music Festival

Established in 1998, the Staunton Music Festival (SMF) aims to engage and enrich audiences with a diverse selection of chamber music, performed by an exceptional group of international and American artists. Programs are consistently innovative, spanning music from the Middle Ages to world premieres of new music commissioned specifically for the festival. Staunton Music Festival was selected as a “Top 20 Event” by the Southeast Tourism Society.

Carsten Schmidt, Founder and Artistic Director

Carsten Schmidt enjoys a flourishing career as a pianist, harpsichordist, and conductor, and has performed widely throughout Europe, North America, and Asia. He has been heard in such venues as the Kennedy Center in Washington DC, Carnegie Hall in New York City, and the Moscow Conservatory.


For media and interview requests, please contact SMF Executive Director Jason Stell at 540-569-0267.