A Benefit Concert for the Shenandoah Valley Bach Festival


The Shenandoah Valley Bach Festival, now in its 26th Season, will celebrate the holidays with “A Bach Festival Christmas” on Friday, December 1 at 7:00pm. The performance will take place Martin Chapel on the EMU Campus. The concert is free and open to the public; donations will be gratefully accepted to benefit the Shenandoah Valley Bach Festival.

This festive concert will feature Cuban tenor Dian Rene and JMU faculty pianist Paulo Steinberg in a mix of classical, holiday, and popular tunes sure to delight music lovers of all ages. The Bach Festival String Quartet will also perform, featuring violinists Susan Black and David McCormick, violist Diane Phoenix-Neal, and cellist Lisa Wright.

A reception will follow the concert.



Dian Rene studied operatic singing in Holguin, Cuba. After receiving his Bachelor’s degree, he performed with opera troupes throughout Cuba and had a career as a popular singer in Holguin. Dian emigrated from Cuba in 2017. He is currently studying with JMU voice professor Kevin McMillan. He participated in the JMU opera production of Mozart’s Cosi fan tutte and has performed with pianists Paul Ackerman and Paulo Steinberg at venues in the Harrisonburg area since his arrival in the United States.

Paulo Steinberg has performed as a soloist and as a collaborative pianist across the U.S., Canada, South America, and Europe, including venues such as the Theatro Municipal de São Paulo in Brazil, the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington D.C., and St. Giles’ Cathedral in Edinburgh, Scotland. Recent engagements include performances at the International Festival “Experiencing Villa-Lobos” and the Wintergreen Summer Music Festival “The Rhythms and Colors of South America” and teaching at the Saarburg Chamber Music Festival in Germany. In the spring of 2017 he undertook a European recital tour stretching from the U.K. to Latvia including, Ireland, Scotland, Luxembourg, Austria, Germany, and Sweden. A winner of several national competitions in his native Brazil, Dr. Steinberg was also the recipient of a prestigious scholarship from the Brazilian Government while pursuing his advanced degrees in piano performance. He holds a Bachelor’s degree in piano from Universidade de São Paulo, a Master’s degree from Arizona State University, and a Doctor of Music degree from Indiana University. Among his distinguished teachers are Brazilian pianists Gilberto Tinetti and Paulo Gori, and Belgian pianist Ms. Evelyne Brancart.



Violinist Susan Black has served as principal second violin of the Shenandoah Valley Bach Festival orchestra for 19 years and performs regularly with the Wild Geese Ensemble. She co-founded the Waynesboro Symphony orchestra and served many years as concertmaster. Ms. Black maintains a large private violin studio in both Waynesboro and Charlottesville.

Violinist David McCormick is Executive Director of the Shenandoah Valley Bach Festival, Artistic Director of Early Music Access Project, and a founding member of medieval ensemble Alkemie. He is a 2017 recipient of Shenandoah Conservatory’s Rising Stars Alumni Award.

Violist Diane Phoenix-Neal performs nationally and internationally as a collaborative chamber musician and as a soloist. She is Assistant Professor of Viola at James Madison University and a longstanding performing faculty member (and alumna) of the Eastern Music Festival. She currently holds the position of principal violist with the Shenandoah Valley Bach Festival Orchestra.

Cellist Lisa Wright is a graduate of the Eastman School of Music and spent many years performing and teaching in New York City.  Ms. Wright is a founding member of the Harrisonburg based group, The Bloom Trio.  Ms. Wright presently serves on the faculty at Eastern Mennonite University and is the Director of Strings at the Woodberry Forest School.