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Larisa Martinez
Larisa Martinez

The curtain has fallen on the 13th season of Festival Napa Valley. Ten days of world-class talent has left hearts full and minds inspired. From the stunning performances to the unprecedented generosity at The Arts for All Gala, much of the magic that happened at the festival encompasses community, strength, passion, and heart. This year’s season was in dedication to the brave firefighters who fought the 2017 Napa fires—those who risked their lives in preserving the beautiful valley.

The art, wine, and music that infiltrates the valley for ten days have a common thread: they invite us to enjoy, to share, and to celebrate. This year’s festival was genuinely spectacular. A heartfelt thanks to the festival’s founder and president, Rick Walker, its COO Sonia Tolbert, and executive producer Charles Letourneau. This trio and their entire team outdid themselves. Here we share the most memorable highlights of the 2018 Festival.

The opening night dinner at Meadowood
The opening night dinner at Meadowood

Opening Night at Meadowood

Nadine Sierra and Jonathan Tetelman mesmerized the guests at the opening night concert, which was part of the Jan Shrem and Maria Manetti Shrem Vocal Arts Series. It was a dazzling alfresco performance on the lush Vintner’s Glen at Meadowood. Tenor Bryan Hymel was originally set to perform, but he was not able to come due to illness. Tetelman was brought in to replace Hymel at the last minute. He arrived in Napa at two in the morning on the day of the opening. Although Tetelman had never met Sierra and the duo barely had time to rehearse, the show was magnificent. The pair sang terrific singles and duets of popular Italian arias, from Puccini to Verdi. They received a well-deserved standing ovation.

Jan Shrem, Maria Manetti Shrem, Pam and Dick Kramlich
Jan Shrem, Maria Manetti Shrem, Pam and Dick Kramlich

After the concert, the elegantly-clad guests socialized under the stars and enjoyed a delicious three-course dinner prepared by Meadowood’s expert culinary team led by estate chef Alejandro Ayala. Guests included Gordon and Ann Getty, Rick and Karen Walker, Sonia Tolbert, Timothy and Athena Blackburn, Antonio and Rita Castellucci, Darioush and Shahpar Khaledi, Robin and Michelle Baggett, Steven and Claire Stull, Maria Manetti Shrem and Jan Shrem, Kathryn and Craig Hall, Jose Luis Nazar, Rich and Leslie Frank, Pam and Dick Kramlich, Michael and Kathleen Covarrubias, Michael and Pepper Jackson, Gorretti and Lawrence Lui, and Ted and Pamala Deikel.

John, Hailey, and Lorenzo Trefethen
John, Hailey, and Lorenzo Trefethen

Trefethen 50th Anniversary Dinner and Grupo Compay Segundo Concert

2018 marks Trefethen Family Vineyards’ 50-year anniversary as a family-owned winery; to commemorate the occasion, Festival Napa Valley presented the legendary Grupo Compay Segundo band–direct from Cuba for their first performance in the U.S. in 20 years. The group was founded by the late Compay Segundo, one of the original members of the Buena Vista Social Club, the international recording sensation. Today it’s helmed by his son, Salvador Repilado Labrada.

The party at Trefethen
The party at Trefethen

The band’s fantastic journey began in Havana with a stopover in France to pick up the proper paperwork to arrive in the U.S. However, two of the players were held up in Paris because their visas had not arrived in time for them to come to the States. By a small miracle, they landed in Napa just in time to perform to the excited patrons. Labrada brought a vibrancy of epic proportions to the stage! Borrowing from American jazz, Spanish guitar, salsa, and Caribbean beats, the Cuban rhythms had everyone dancing the night away. Between sets, guests enjoyed scrumptious bites by Marks the Spot and fabulous Trefethen wines. It was a night for the history books.

Vista Collina Resort
Vista Collina Resort

Taste of Napa

One of the favorite festival events every summer is the food-centric Taste of Napa. It is a beautiful spread featuring the best culinary and wine collections in Napa Valley. This year’s gathering was at the intimate Vista Collina Resort—a new hotel in the area. More than 70 local wineries, restaurants, and top artisans showcased their scrumptious fare for guests to enjoy. The afternoon also featured live music by the renowned harpist and violinist Carlos Reyes and vocalist Tony Lindsay. Famed chef Ryan Scott also made an appearance. The Reserve Tasting Salon offered sips of Napa Valley’s most prestigious wines.

Joshua Bell and “The Red Violin”
Joshua Bell and “The Red Violin”

World Premiere! Joshua Bell Performs “The Red Violin” with Live Orchestra

Acclaimed violinist Joshua Bell returned to perform the outstanding music he recorded in 1998 for the Academy Award-winning film, The Red Violin. The film tells the story of a mysterious red violin, crafted in the late 1600s by Italian instrument-maker Nicolo Bussotti. It chronicles the exciting voyage of this unique violin throughout history. Inside Yountville’s Lincoln Theatre, the dramatic and thrilling movie was shown with Bell playing alongside.

The riveting experience of watching the beautiful picture on the screen while Bell performed composer John Corigliano’s magical, Oscar-winning score in its entirety was a once in a lifetime event. At a youthful age of 20 years old, Bell performed the outstanding score when the film was first created. Now, as a more mature artist, Bell stole the hearts of all who witnessed his incredible talent.

Craig and Kathryn Hall at Arts for All
Craig and Kathryn Hall at Arts for All

Arts for All Gala and Auction at Hall Winery

The Arts for All Gala is the most significant arts charity event, and Hall Winery hosted it in St. Helena for the second year in a row. This evening encapsulates the core values of the festival family of patrons, highlighting in all its glory the unbelievable generosity of those in attendance. Color wonder was the theme—colorful paper lanterns, string lights, and a stage made of thousands of bright fresh roses courtesy of Passion Roses served as a delightful backdrop.

Taking to the stage in grand fashion was the iconic artist, actor, and Grammy-Award winning singer Kristin Chenoweth; a small-town girl from Oklahoma whose dreams of becoming a singer were realized when her parents gave her the opportunity to perform at a young age. She was accompanied by ten students selected from five Napa county public high school choral groups. With a captivating quick-wit and magnetism, Chenoweth commanded the room of 400 guests instantaneously.

Kristin Chenoweth and Paul and Nancy Pelosi at Arts for All gala
Kristin Chenoweth and Paul and Nancy Pelosi at Arts for All gala

The auction lots were some of the most outstanding experiences ever created. From chartered yachts in the Mediterranean to a private concert with Andrea Bocelli in his Tuscan hometown to dinner with Sophia Loren at her home in Switzerland to walking the red carpet at the AFI Life Achievement Awards, the lots were spectacular! A whopping $2.5 million was raised so that every child in Napa can have the opportunity to realize their passions for arts education. The funds also support free and affordable access to the festival’s performances and provide scholarships to emerging musicians.

Paddles were raised high and proud as bidders from every corner of the room competed for a chance to win the fantastic trips. The evening concluded with a rockin’ after party, dessert table, propped photo booth, and DJ. With all its glitz, glamour, and spirit of generosity, this evening was magically touching, and it should not be missed next year!

Michael Fabiano and Larisa Martinez
Michael Fabiano and Larisa Martinez

Bernstein Centennial: Selections from “West Side Story,” Featuring Michael Fabiano & Larisa Martínez

The festival celebrated Leonard Bernstein’s centennial with selections from West Side Story, the 1957 film. Noted as love songs of their time, the beautiful tunes Somewhere, Tonight, and Maria were performed. Renowned tenor Michael Fabiano and soprano Larisa Martinez reenacted these memorable melodies for a standing room only audience. The duo left little to the imagination as the vocals and acting scenes from West Side Story profoundly moved all.

Shahpar and Darioush Khaledi at the Far Niente dinner
Shahpar and Darioush Khaledi at the Far Niente dinner

Patron Dinner at Far Niente Winery

The full final night of the 13th season was marked with dinner atop the hillside at one of Napa Valley’s finest and most historic wineries, the one and only Far Niente. Patrons dined alfresco on a meal prepared by the winery’s estate chef, Sarah Walz. Throughout the sumptuous dinner, closing speeches, toasts, and tributes were made. A surprise musical act—four young Russian folk artists performing renditions of Piazzolla Tango—entertained the guests. It was a majestic evening and the ideal conclusion of the festival.

Jonathan Tetelman and Nadine Sierra perform at the opening night concert
Jonathan Tetelman and Nadine Sierra perform at the opening night concert

With magnificent performances in the magical settings of participating wineries, Festival Napa Valley continues to pave the way for young, aspiring artists whose hearts are touched by music. The opportunities received solely from the funds raised by this incredible event poignantly effects the lives of our next generation of artists. The way music livens the soul and inspires one to feel and grow are the notes that festival goers take away.

Please book your ticket early for the 2019 Festival at www.FestivalNapaValley.org.

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