SWCC Festival of the Arts

festival header

Welcome! Southwest Virginia Community College is excited to present the Festival of the Arts.

The 2016 Festival of the Arts is set for April 11 through April 24th (pre-festival events March 31 & April 1).  The 2016 festival celebrates its 22nd year with the theme of Shakespeare & the Birth of Romanticism: An International Celebration of the 400th Anniversary of the Death of Shakespeare.

We hope you join us!  Mary

Camerata Virtuosi New York features three unique and informative concerts.

The popular chamber ensemble, Camerata Virtuosi New York, will be featured in three performances during the Festival of the Arts as the festival commemorates the 400th anniversary of the death of Shakespeare. The theme Shakespeare and the Birth of Romanticism will be explored in the three unique and informative concerts.


On Thursday, April 21 at 7:30 p.m., at the Tazewell Baptist Church, 141 Tower Street, Tazewell, the concert “In sweet music is such art, killing care and grief of heart” –Henry VIII,  presents “Comedies, Tragedies and Histories” with works by composers Beethoven, Byrd, Porter, Prokofiev, Schumann, Walton and others. This concert is being presented in honor of Jan McClure, Tazewell County resident, who is a well loved and respected Suzuki teacher. She has taught and influenced many young people in violin and other string instruments over the years. The voluntary donations that will be taken at the door will provide scholarships in Mrs. McClure’s name for regional music students. The scholarships will be administered through the Tazewell Music Club.

This chamber ensemble is comprised of nationally and internationally acclaimed violinists Yuri Vodovoz and Rob Taylor, Kimberly Wallace, violist, cellist Diliana Momtchilova  and pianists Pavlina Dokovska and Vladimir Valjarevic.

Additional concerts by Camerata Virtuosi New York will be “The Bard as Muse” Tuesday, April 19 at the Elk Garden United Methodist Church in Elk Garden and “Sonnets, Sonatas and Sonata Form” on Saturday, April 23 at First United Methodist Church on College Avenue in Bluefield, VA.  Admission to the concerts is by voluntary donation at the door. For Festival information and schedule, call Mary W. Lawson, 276.964.7348 or view schedule here.

The success of the festival is due to the support of the community: area individuals and families, alumnus, businesses, civic organizations, local government and school divisions and local and regional family foundations whose financial support is paramount to the success of our programming. For Festival sponsorship information, please contact Mary W. Lawson, 276.964.7348 or .

festival of the arts logo 2016

The Festival logo represents the theme and was designed by Courtney Wyatt.

While we think of Shakespeare in the realm of theater and his many plays and sonnets, his vast body of work signaled and influenced the birth of the age of romanticism in all the arts. It is in that vein that the theme of the Festival was selected. Shakespeare’s influence will be experienced as the romantic movement in music was enormously inspired and driven by literature and the force behind romantic literature was Shakespeare. A wealth of music inspired by Shakespeare for chamber ensemble, orchestra and voice will be performed.  Featured will be music from the 18-20th century including “West Side Story” (based on Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet,) music from the film score Henry V,  a beautiful suite from music to “Much Ado About Nothing” and music from The Lion King, based on King Lear, are a few examples.

Poets Coleridge and Byron promoted Shakespeare as the supreme example of literary genius and creative imagination. The Bard also provided a literal platform on which both artists and entrepreneurs (ie marketing of paintings in galleries and women writers who adapted Shakespeare to express their own political and social concerns) could strive to influence cultural tastes and points of view.

The festival will be inclusive as it will include a residency of Shakespearian Improvisational Theatre with actor Joey Bland and the Mountain Youth Drama Group, directed by Lori Gates-Addison. A Sonnet Slam will give students, faculty and community folks a chance to present one of Shakespeare’s sonnets in a humorous yet educational manner.

The Richmond Ballet II will perform a part of Romeo and Juliet; an English Garden Tea will be at beautiful Ellenbrook Mansion in Elk Garden; a flower show, All the World’s a Stage, with floral arrangements based on the titles of Shakespeare’s plays and sonnets, will be a part of the festival.  There will be Jeopardy, Festival Café and an exhibit, The Art of Costuming: Barter Theatre Costumes from the Shakespearean Stage. An exhibit of original art on the theme “Such stuff as dreams are made on” and piano master classes, concluding with the Spotlight on Talent featuring piano students of Pavlina Dokovska and Vladimir Valjarevic are included in the Festival.

The core part of the festival will include performances by the Knoxville Symphony Chamber Orchestra accompanying the SWCC Community Chorus and soprano Susannah Biller, there will be three performances by Camerata Virtuoso New York, each performance with a different theme and program and featuring SWCC’s music majors. The festival will end with a performance by the SWCC Community Chorus performing an afternoon of Shakespeare Inspired Musical Theater, selections based on Shakespeare’s plays. It promises to be a memorable and tuneful finale to the Festival.

Since 1995, many countries of the world, including our very own Appalachian Region of the United States, have been the focus of the festival.

Our returning artists each year include Camerata Virtuosi New York (pictured) 

Learn more about our artists and sponsors and make plans now to join us!


The Festival began in 1995 with Spotlight on America-From Sea to Shining Sea!

Since that inaugural year, the countries of Germany, Italy, Austria, England, Russia, the Appalachian Region of the United States and France and others have been visited through the Festival. The mission of the Festival is to provide an in-depth exploration of the cultural riches of countries and cultures around the world to create a better understanding of those nations and cultures. The two-week long Festival consists of numerous musical performances, including vocal, instrumental and solo presentations. Dance, theatre, literature, visual arts and film are other areas of exploration.

Students from the theatre and music departments at Southwest participate, as well as community singers in the SWCC Community Chorus. SWCC art students design the Festival logo each year and prepare art exhibits that reflect the artistic heritage of the country in the spotlight. Workshops are conducted by visiting artists and a Spotlight event is held each year to showcase student talent.
Festival Themes Through the Years

Nationally and Internationally Acclaimed Artists

Most performances are presented by nationally and internationally acclaimed artists, among them:
pianists Pavlina Dokovska, ; violinists Yuri Vodovoz and Rob Taylor; violist Ariel Rudiakov; cellist Diliana Momtchilova; flutist Massimo Mercelli; sopranos Stefka Evastieva and Karen Bureau; the Kandinsky Trio and Garth Newel Chamber Players; Walt Michael and Company and Madeline MacNeil, dulcimer.

Special Guests

Special guests have been actor Efrem Zimbalist, Jr., Dr. Gottfried Wagner, musicologist; Chandler Cowles and Henry Taylor, Pulitzer Prize winners; Dr. Gideon Waldrop, former Dean of the Juilliard School of Music and President of the Manhattan School of Music; composer David Tcimpidis; writers Lee Smith and Sharyn McCrumb.

Venue for many performances:

Southwest Virginia Community College
King Community Center
295 Community College Road
Dellinger Hall
965 Community College Road

Visit these sites for more information about the region:

Tazewell County Website

Appalachian Arts Center

Appalachian Authors Guild

Open for Business: Tazewell County

Virginia Festivals Information

Support SWCC