Festival Napa Valley's 16th season presented an artistically diverse range of concerts and raised over $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 a new high mark 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 nonprofit governed by a board of Napa vintners and community leaders. In addition to the summer festival, the organization celebrates the arts by presenting free and affordable concerts year-round and supporting a variety of educational programs.
During this summer's festival, the Blackburn Music Academy and Manetti Shrem Summer Vocal Conservatory were both offered tuition-free. Throughout the year, auction proceeds support scholarships for young musicians and provide sustaining funding for arts education in Napa County public schools.
The top live-auction lot, which sold for $620,000, was named La Vita è Bella … with Bocelli!, an evening with superstar operatic tenor Andrea Bocelli and his family at San Francisco’s Kohl Mansion, with wines from Tusk Estates. The top wine lot, which kicked off the auction, consisted of a collection of commemorative 3-liter bottles from some of Napa's top wineries, including Caymus, Far Niente, Frank Family Vineyards and Quintessa. It sold for $111,000.
While many of this year's lots featured luxury travel and one-of-a-kind arts experiences (such as a private concert by Joshua Bell and Larisa Martinez at their New York City penthouse), most lots included exclusive wines from Napa and other regions.
In addition to the gala auction, the festival presented more than 60 concerts over 10 days, as well as patron experiences at a variety of Napa wineries. In keeping with its mission to "make the arts accessible to all," the festival offered free admission to 20 events and accessible ticket prices to others; it has also expanded its digital streaming options to reach a global audience.
This year's concert 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 an appearance by the Brubeck Brothers Quartet. The festival featured diverse and community-minded programming, including a performance of Antonín Dvořák’s New World Symphony set against a backdrop of artwork created by local children and seniors participating 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 Juneteenth national holiday, 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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