Jeanne Backofen Craig Performs
Local award-winning pianist Jeanne Backofen Craig will play a recital on Sunday April 15, 2018 at 4 pm at Bethany United Methodist Church, co-presented by Amherst Glebe Arts Response, Inc. (AGAR) and the Church. Works on the program will include: Johann Sebastian Bach’s Prelude and Fugue in C major, WTC II; Joseph Haydn’s Sonata in E-flat major, Hob. XVI:52 (Allegro, Adagio, Presto); Frederic
Chopin’s Ballade in G minor, Op. 23; Edvard Grieg’s Notturno, Op. 54, No. 4;
And two pieces by Franz Liszt, Vallée d'Obermann; and Hungarian Rhapsody No. 11.
Jeanne is a trained classical pianist who has been performing in public since the age of 7. She spent much of her youth traveling around the country for piano competitions, and made her orchestral debut with the Cincinnati Symphony at the age of 12. That same year, she represented the United States along with 14-year-old violinist Joshua Bell in “Music, Joy of Youth,” broadcast on public radio in the U.S. and Europe. She earned her B.A. in Piano Performance from Virginia Tech in 1991, and then a Master of Elementary Education degree from Marymount University in Arlington, Virginia, in 1992.
After 25 years away from performing virtuoso-level repertoire, Jeanne began practicing again and was accepted as one of 72 contestants (from 20 countries) in the 2016 Cliburn International Piano Competition for Outstanding Amateurs. Jeanne spent a week in Fort Worth, Texas, performing for a jury of world-class pianists, including former Cliburn Professional gold medalists Olga Kern and André-Michel Schub. Jeanne performed three times, advancing to the semifinal round of 12, and was a favorite of local and online viewers. She followed her success in Fort Worth with a trip to the Washington (DC) International Piano Artists Competition 6 weeks later, where she was awarded 2nd prize.
She also won additional special awards by capturing the hearts of the audience and press jury. Jeanne made her European debut in March 2017, performing a solo recital at the Gasteig, in Munich, Germany. In May 2017, she made her Carnegie Hall debut as the adult amateur winner in the Bradshaw & Buono International Piano Competition. She also performed a solo concert at Sweet Briar College.
Since November 2000, Jeanne has served Holy Name of Mary Catholic Church in Bedford as Music Minister and, from 2007-2017, as the Director of Music and Liturgy. She returned full-time to the Bedford County School System in the Fall of 2017 as the Music and Choral Director of Forest Middle and Jefferson Forest High Schools.
Jeanne has performed locally in 2-piano, 8-hand concerts with Gustavo Romero, Richard Wroncy, Naomi Amos, Noémi Szigeti Lee and Anna Billias, sponsored by Forte Chamber Music, and in May 2017, performed Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue with the Jefferson Forest High School Wind Symphony. Jeanne is in demand as a soprano soloist, although she has never had formal vocal training. She prefers to accompany herself when she sings (mainly since she doesn’t know what else to do with her hands!)
In her spare time, Jeanne serves on the board of the Lynchburg Symphony Youth Orchestra, and as Secretary of the Jefferson Forest Band Boosters. She also enjoys long-distance running, web design, and learning languages. She qualified for and ran the 2011 Boston Marathon. Jeanne is married to Eddie, a mechanical engineer for Simplimatic, Inc., permanent deacon of Holy Name of Mary, and amateur winemaker. As the proud mother of Billy, Andy, and Carrie, she is a big fan of the J.F. Marching Cavaliers and the LSYO. As a family, they enjoy hiking, water sports, camping, and the Lynchburg Hillcats.
AGAR in Romania "Around the World"
AGAR European Premiere, Aaron Garber's "Romania: Revolution 1989,"
Romanian National Opera House Timisoara in December 2017
On December 13, 2017 Amherst Glebe Arts Response, Inc. co-presented with Rotary-Opera Timisoara at the Romanian National Opera House in Timisoara, Romania, the European Premiere of Aaron Garber's Chamber Opera "Romania: Revolution 1989." The opera was commissioned by AGAR in 2014 and AGAR produced and presented the premiere in collaboration with St. Mark's Episcopal Church, Clifford, VA on April 26, 2015. Performances followed in Moneta, Lynchburg and Roanoke in Spring 2015.
The original cast included Timisoara-born and educated Melia Garber as one of the duo pianists, along with pianist Noemi Szigeti Lee, born in Cluj, tenor Scott Williamson, and baritone Philip Bouknight. The opera was set to slides of scenes from the 1989 revolution, in which Communist Dictator Nicolae Ceausescu was overthrown. The slides were compiled by Lynn Kable and Deirdre Serio with assistance from the Memorialul to the Revolution in Timisoara and photographer Emmanuel Tanjela.
In 2017 Mr, Garber and later AGAR were contacted by Rotary-Opera Timisoara, who had seen video of the project featuring Melia Garber. They invited AGAR and Garber to Timisoara to perform at the Opera House in December 17, 2017. Aaron Garber conducted the performance. Scott Williamson reprised the tenor role, as did Melia Garber on piano.
The remaining cast members were from Timisoara. Accompanying the project to Romania were also Salem Rotary Club's Joseph Ferguson, and Amherst Rotary Club's Father James Hubbard, who was priest at St. Mark's Episcopal Church when the opera premiered. Lynn and Ned Kable represented AGAR, with Lynn directing the slides and Ned documenting the project.
The Rotary-Opera Timisoara Club has asked Mr. Garber to expand his opera to include more characters, a chorus and an orchestra for performance at the Romanian National Opera House Timisoara in 2019 -- the thirtieth anniversary of the uprising that began in Timisoara. The are also trying to involve U.S. and other international Rotary Clubs in establishing a program for extraordinarily talented young opera singers of Timisoara to be able to work with international and stylistically diverse, Mr. Williamson in his role as Artistic Director of Opera Roanoke, has agreed to explore exchange possibilities between Timisoara and Roanoke. AGAR is exploring international funding for the next stage of the project, which will culminate in 2021, when Timisoara will be cultural capital of Europe.