The 16th season of Festival Napa Valley showcased an artistically diverse range of concerts, raising more than $3.9 million at the Arts for All Gala. Held at the Nickel & Nickel winery in Oakville on July 17 and headlined by country music star (and wine lover) Trisha Yearwood, this year’s gala auction set another high for the event, surpassing the auction’s previous record by more than $1 million. The annual event has now raised more than $19 million for cultural programming and arts education in Napa County and beyond.
The festival and auction are organized by the Festival Napa Valley Association, a non-profit organization governed by a council of Napa vintners and community leaders. In addition to the summer festival, the organization celebrates the arts by presenting free and affordable concerts throughout the year and supporting a variety of educational programs.
During this summer’s festival, the Blackburn Music Academy and the Manetti Shrem Summer Vocal Conservatory were both tuition-free. Year-round auction proceeds support scholarships for young musicians and provide sustainable funding for arts education in Napa County public schools.
The best live auction lot, which sold for $620,000, was called La Vita è Bella…with Bocelli!, an evening with superstar operator tenor Andrea Bocelli and his family at San Francisco’s Kohl Mansion, featuring wines from Tusk Estates. The top wine lot, which kicked off the auction, featured a collection of 3-liter commemorative bottles from some of Napa’s finest wineries, including Caymus, Far Niente, Frank Family Vineyards and Quintessa. It sold for $111,000.
While many of this year’s lots feature luxury travel and unique art experiences (such as a private concert by Joshua Bell and Larisa Martinez at their New York City penthouse), most of the lots feature exclusive wines from Napa and other regions.
In addition to the gala auction, the festival featured more than 60 concerts over 10 days, as well as customer experiences at several Napa wineries. In keeping with its mission to “make the arts accessible to all,” the festival offered free entry to 20 events and accessible ticket prices to others; it has also expanded its digital streaming options to reach a global audience.
Guests toast at dinner at the Napa Arts Festival. (Bob McLenahan)
This year’s highlights included the family-friendly A Night at the Ballet: From Tchaikovsky to The Rolling Stones, a performance by the Young People’s Chorus of New York City, and a performance by the Brubeck Brothers Quartet. The festival featured a diverse and community-oriented programming, including a performance of Antonín Dvořák’s New World Symphony against a backdrop of artwork created by local children and seniors who participated in the festival’s How I See Music program.
Other notable performances included the world premiere of Nia Imani Franklin’s “Polaris,” an anthem commissioned by Festival Napa Valley to commemorate the new June National Day, and an innovative staging of Gaetano Donizetti’s L’Elisir d’Amore, directed by Jean – Romain Vesperini, with Gemma New conducting.
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