Festival Leadership

Carsten Schmidt

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 at Ravinia Festival, Kennedy Center, Carnegie Hall, the Moscow Conservatory, the Kuhmo Festival in Finland, German Mozart Festival, as well as in broadcasts worldwide.

Jason Stell

Executive Director

Jason Stell, concert commentator and music historian, received his musicology Ph.D. in 2006 from Princeton University. Previous degrees in music theory (M.A.) and astrophysics (B.S.) were from Pennsylvania State University, where he enjoyed opportunities to write and present research on topics from Beethoven and Scriabin to supernovae and quarks.

Christine Capito Burch

Chair, Board of Directors

Christine Capito Burch served for over twenty years as the Executive Director of the National Association of Public Hospitals. Prior to that she was a professional staff member in the U.S. Senate for the late Senator Edward Kennedy. She and her husband Michael love to travel and enjoy concerts in London, Rome, Paris – and of course Staunton!

Larry Harrell

Vice-Chair, Board of Directors

Larry Harrell moved to Staunton from Georgia in 1978 after finishing his medical residency to begin his thirty year career. He began at King's Daughters' Hospital and then moved to Augusta Health when it opened in 1994. In his retirement he enjoys various venues of classical music, travel, and watching Turner Classic Movies when at home.

Carol Shapiro

Treasurer, Board of Directors

Carol Shapiro has been a full-time Staunton resident for 4 1/2 years. She retired from Navy Federal Credit Union after a 40 year career, which culminated in developing and implementing customer service innovations for branches all over the world. She loved traveling the globe for her work, and travel remains her passion in retirement.

Lori Piitz

Secretary, Board of Directors

Lori Piitz is Professor of Piano at James Madison University. A varied and stimulating career has found her playing chamber music at the Kennedy Center and performing in a German opera house dressed as a baby chick! When not practicing or working with her talented students, she enjoys hiking, yoga and pilates.

Dreama Anderson

Board of Directors

Dreama Anderson was born and raised in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia, where her family's roots stretch back 200 years. After working in retail/marketing, she lived in Washington DC, New York and Charleston SC. Returning to Staunton in 2010, she is realtor-owner of Anderson Fine Properties, specializing in historic homes and farms.

Steve Berneking

Board of Directors

Steve Berneking works at the United Bible Societies as the Director of an international team, providing services to Bible translators and consultants around the world. Steve has played the piano his entire life in a range of genres and especially loves classical music and “southern-style gospel music.” He and his wife Riikka live in downtown Staunton.

Yi-Ping Chen

Board of Directors

Striving to make classical music relevant to her communities, Yi-Ping Chen thrives on serving multiple musical organizations including conducting Rockbridge Symphony and Shenandoah Valley Youth Symphony, and teaching conducting at JMU. Yi-Ping co-founded Caravanserai Music to foster connections through performance.

Rick Chittum

Board of Directors

Rick Chittum grew up in Staunton and was educated at W&L University. He retired as a legislative consultant for the community mental health system, and he has managed the family tree farm in Augusta County for several decades. Beginning as a child chorister at Trinity Episcopal Church, Rick has served numerous arts and cultural organizations.

Terry Grant

Board of Directors

Charlottesville resident Terry Grant has been driving “over the mountain” for SMF since 2001. In addition to working with her family's real estate business in NYC and assisting refugees in Virginia, Terry has spent two decades as a classical announcer at WTJU-FM and as an executive board member of Charlottesville Chamber Music Festival.

Elizabeth Hartman

Board of Directors

Elizabeth (Libby) Hartman has been shuttling between the UK and Virginia since 2008. A longtime resident of London, she founded The Chelsea Group of Children, an organization long recognized as a leader in the field of special needs education. Previously Libby worked at Christies and earned a Diploma at the Cordon Bleu Paris.

Bart Huxtable

Board of Directors

As an amateur astronomer hauling telescopes up the Allegheny Mountains, Bart Huxtable discovered Staunton nearly 20 years ago. After obtaining a Ph.D. from Caltech in theoretical physics and developing radar and communication systems, he looks forward to woodworking, piano tuning, and sampling craft beers and music around the Valley.

Davidson Perry-Miller

Board of Directors

Davidson Perry-Miller owned a private luxury real estate firm in Dallas, TX before relocating to Staunton and restoring the landmark Waverley Hill property. An alum of W&L Univ., Dave is passionate about the American Shakespeare Center, historic preservation, architecture, gardens and dogs--particularly his Portuguese Water Dog puppy, Cooper.

Tamara Ridenour

Board of Directors

Tamara Ridenour is president and CEO of Junior Achievement of Central Virginia. She came to Staunton in 2011, and holds a bachelor's degree in music. She has sung in symphony choruses, chamber ensembles, and community choirs, and has directed many church choirs. Tamara has served on and chaired numerous non-profit boards of directors.

Stewart Searle

Board of Directors, Chief Videographer

After a long business career, including as management consultant with McKinsey & Company and other corporations, Stewart Searle retired in 2005 and developed a serious interest in video creation. Since then he has produced roughly 500 documentary videos, primarily for performing arts and nonprofits, including Staunton Music Festival.

Wilson "Wick" Vellines

Board of Directors

Attorney Wick Vellines retired as senior partner with Vellines, Glick, and Whitesell to continue his other passions of fly fishing, cooking and music. He has been adjunct professor at Washington & Lee University School of Law (his alma mater) and is active with numerous civic organizations throughout the region.