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Festival Napa Valley Kicked Off 12th Season with Unforgettable Sold Out Opening Weekend and a Record Setting $2,500,000 Raised at Arts for All Gala


Festival Napa Valley Music Academy Receives $1,000,000 Naming Gift, Debut of Khaledi Prize And Annual Arts For All Gala Auction Doubles 2016 Results

Napa, CA (July 17, 2017) – Festival Napa Valley, the annual event renowned for providing the ultimate in curated California wine country experiences and transforming Napa Valley into a cultural destination, kicked off its 12th season with an opening weekend lineup of prestigious events and exciting announcements.

Rick Walker, Shahpar Khaledi, Aldo Lopez-Gavilan and Darioush Khaledi, presenting the Darioush and Shahpar Khaledi Prize (Photographer Bob McClenahan)

The weekend wrapped with Wine Country’s biggest arts charity event, the Arts for All Gala, on Sunday, July 16 at HALL Winery in St. Helena. Bill Murray and Jan Vogler gave a sneak preview of their highly anticipated show, New Worlds, which receives its North American debut later this week at Festival Napa Valley. The evening also featured a performance by three of the lead actors from the National Tour of the Tony Award winning hip-hop musical Hamilton: Michael Luwoye (Alexander Hamilton), Jordan Donica (Marquis de Lafayette/Thomas Jefferson), and Isaiah Johnson (George Washington).  The auction doubled its 2016 results, setting a new record raising $2.5 million.  Proceeds support Festival Napa Valley’s Arts for All programs that provide funding for public school arts education, free and affordable access to the festival’s international quality performances, scholarships for emerging musicians, and the festival’s work with the Boys and Girls Clubs and other organizations. 

During the Gala, the festival announced a $1,000,000 gift from Athena and Timothy Blackburn in support of the new Festival Napa Valley Music Academy, which will now be called The Blackburn Music Academy at Festival Napa Valley. This marks the first ever $1 million gift to the festival.  This year the Academy welcomed 70 musicians representing many of the world’s most esteemed conservatories and music schools for a tuition-free summer conservatory.  Conductor Ming Luke, Program Director, along with an all-star faculty, are leading the emerging professional musicians in a two-week intensive program at Napa Valley College where they receive daily coaching and master classes, and gain valuable experience participating in festival concerts.  

“Festival Napa Valley does so much to support music education locally, and to encourage talented young musicians worldwide, says Timothy Blackburn.  “We hope our gift will help advance this essential work and support the next generation.”

“This gift from Athena and Timothy Blackburn is a game-changer,” adds Richard Walker, President and CEO of Festival Napa Valley. “It will enable the Festival Music Academy to continue developing as an important training ground providing opportunities for emerging musicians worldwide. We deeply appreciate Athena and Timothy’s leadership gift making this possible.”

This year’s festival, which is dedicated to Founding Chair Darioush Khaledi and his wife Shahpar, opened July 13th with a special dinner at the Harlan family’s new wine estate, Promontory. Here the festival announced a new prestigious award in honor of Darioush and Shahpar: The Khaledi Prize, which recognizes excellence and innovation in classical music.  In a surprise to both guests and the recipient, the inaugural award, which included a $10,000 cash prize, was presented to Cuban pianist and composer, Aldo López-Gavilán.

Other Opening Weekend events included: a Twilight Preview Concert at Calistoga Ranch with piano wunderkind Wei Luo; Opening Night at Meadowood Napa Valley where guests were treated to a concert by opera stars Danielle de Niese and Paulo Szot on the estate’s beautiful new Redwood Lawn; Taste of Napa at the Napa Valley Expo; Seasons of Cuba at Far Niente with Joshua Bell, Aldo López-Gavilán, Larisa Martínez and the Havana Chamber Orchestra conducted by Daiana García; Vintner’s Luncheons at Zakin Estate, RiverHouse, Lail Vineyards and Solage Napa Valley,  and more.

About Festival Napa Valley:

Festival Napa Valley is committed to delivering programs that uplift and inspire, making the arts accessible to all. Blending the beauty and bounty of Napa Valley with the very finest performing arts, the festival pairs world class performances with culinary and wine pursuits staged in iconic wine country settings. The annual summer celebration of the art of life has transformed Napa Valley into a cultural destination.  Festival Napa Valley is presented by Napa Valley Festival Association, a nonprofit public benefit corporation governed by a board of prominent vintners and local leaders. More than 200 artists, wineries, resorts, theaters, restaurants and vintners participate each year. Festival Napa Valley’s next season will take place July 20 – 29, 2018. To learn more, visit festivalnapavalley.org.


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