Ken Nafziger, artistic director and conductor, is professor emeritus of music at Eastern Mennonite University. A graduate of Goshen College, he received a doctor of musical arts in music history and literature from the University of Oregon and was a post-doctoral conducting student with Helmuth Rilling in Frankfurt/Main and Stuttgart, Germany.
In addition to his twenty five years of work with the Shenandoah Valley Bach Festival, Nafziger is also music director and conductor of the chamber choir Winchester Musica Viva in Winchester, Virginia. This past spring, the choir and orchestra presented the mid-Atlantic premiere of Los Angeles based composer Shawn Kirchner’s Songs of Ascent.
In June 2015, Nafziger received the 2015 Circle of Excellence in the Arts Award, given by the Forbes Center for the Performing Arts, the Arts Council of the Valley, and the College of Visual and Performing Arts at James Madison University, in recognition of his sustained contributions in the arts and his creative and superior accomplishments that have improved the cultural vitality of the Shenandoah Valley.
Nafziger has worked with many of Cuba’s premier orchestra and choral ensembles over the past number of years, including guest conducting appearances with Cuba’s leading orchestras and choirs, teaching master classes on a variety of musical topics, and participating with musical colleagues in a number of joint projects. These visits have resulted in the guest appearance of Exaudi and its director, María Felicia Pérez, at the 2001 Bach Festival, and invitations to the EMU Chamber Singers and Winchester Musica Viva to perform there.
His resume includes significant work in church music. He edited or assisted in editing three hymnals (the ones in the hymnal racks), producing correlated teaching materials and recordings for those hymnals, and co-wrote a book on the significance of singing among Mennonites. His work is widely known across many denominations. He is a frequent guest conductor, workshop leader, and clinician across the United States and Canada.