A Perfect 10

For 10 magical days and nights, Napa Valley comes alive with one of the world’s best arts festivals. Gentry takes a look at what’s on tap for this year’s Festival Napa Valley.

The tinkling of glasses and the murmur of good conversation in the warm Napa Valley sun gives way to the swell of an orchestra—then, piercing the air with precision and force, world-acclaimed soprano Nadine Sierra takes to the stage. Her emerald green gown echoes the verdant alfresco setting at Meadowood Resort kicking off last year’s record-breaking Festival Napa Valley. Such magic moments are myriad at this fine arts festival that has quickly become one of the most important and influential in the United States.

Taking place over 10 days (July 10 – 21) this year, Festival Napa Valley will include a staggering 60 performances (many of them free of charge) bringing some of the most talented musicians and dancers on the planet to stages all over Napa Valley. “Our mission at Festival Napa Valley (FNV) is really quite simple: we aim to make the arts accessible to everyone,” notes FNV COO Sonia Tolbert. Indeed, through the Festival’s year-round “Arts for All” programs, more than 6,000 seniors, veterans, and families enjoy world-class arts programs and performances.

“We have four core pillars that we work with: to enrich, to unite, to inspire, and to elevate. We find that music is a great connector to bring people together. Napa Valley is the secret sauce, if you will, and when you combine the natural beauty with the hospitality and food and wine, you have the ingredients for something very, very special.”

It’s an impressive undertaking that all began 14 years ago when FNV CEO Rick Walker first conceived of a little arts festival in Napa Valley. Walker recalls, “I’d been working with the Russian National Orchestra for a number of years, bringing them to the United States for several performances in California at Montalvo, Stern Grove, and always one in Napa. As time wore on, it became clear that the Napa Valley not only craved a fine arts festival, but could support one as well.” Walker knew that he had to keep the festival interesting or it would never survive. He’d need to assemble a team that would seek out performers on the rise, the best of the best.

Early supporters Athena and Timothy Blackburn echo Walker’s sentiment. “We listened to the pitch and immediately saw the potential,” recalls Athena. “This area is so beautiful and wine is the backbone, but when you are here and part of the community, you need more than just wine tasting.”

Over time Walker and his team, in tandem with a stellar Board of Directors, have grown and nurtured Festival Napa Valley into the impactful nonprofit that it is today (FNV is the largest private funder of arts education in Napa Valley).

Walker recalls when he knew the Festival Napa Valley was going to be something magical. “In the early years we had a dinner on one of the beautiful fairways at Meadowood. The evening had gone off without a hitch—everything was delightful and just as the guests were about to depart from the spectacular night, the sprinklers went on. Not your soft, gentle backyard sprinkler, but powerful jets of water. You can imagine what went through my mind. But, instead of complaining the guests whooped and giggled—Margrit Mondavi took off her shoes and started to run through the water. Everyone howled with laughter and continued to say how much they enjoyed the night. I could tell right there and then that we had something special; that we had hardcore supporters who were in this for the long haul.”

Tolbert notes, “We have four core pillars that we work with: to enrich, to unite, to inspire, and to elevate. We find that music is a great connector to bring people together. Napa Valley is the secret sauce, if you will, and when you combine the natural beauty with the hospitality and food and wine, you have the ingredients for something very, very special.”

Highlights from
Festival Napa Valley 2019

Wednesday, July 10
6:30 pm Founders Dinner at The Hess Collection
Friday, July 12
6:30 pm Opening Night: Opera Under the Stars at Meadowood featuring Joyce El-Khoury, Francesco Demuro, and Lucas Meachem
7 pm Bouchaine Young Artists Series: Sheku Kanneh-Mason and Isata Kanneh-Mason
Saturday, July 13
11 am – 3 pm Taste of Napa featuring Wonder Bread 5 at Vista Collina
6 pm Sheku Kanneh-Mason with the Havana Chamber Orchestra at Far Niente
8:30 pm Patron Dinner at Far Niente
Sunday July 14
11:30 am Vintner’s Luncheon at Solage Napa Valley
11:30 am Vintner’s Luncheon hosted by Austin and Sara Hills
2 pm Free Concert Featuring Sunday Buzz with The Yellowjackets
5:30 pm Arts for All Gala featuring SEAL at HALL Napa Valley

Monday, July 15
11:30 am Jan Shrem and Maria Manetti Shrem Museum of Art Tour and Luncheon
2 pm Concert for Kids: Sleepover at the Museum at Lincoln Theater
6:30 pm Donor Exclusive: A Private Evening with Patti LuPone at Calistoga Ranch
Tuesday, July 16
11 am Free Concert – Bouchaine Young Artists Series: Mitya Nilov, percussion
6:30 pm Opera at the Castello: Bastianello
Wednesday, July 17
6:30 pm Grand Cru Concertos: Sophia Bacelar, cello, Charlie Siem, violin, Mitya Nilov, percussion
Thursday, July 18
11:30 am Vintner’s Luncheon at St. Supéry Estate Vineyards & Winery
6 pm Star Wars: A New Hope Live with Orchestra at Lincoln Theater
9 pm Patron Dinner at Trinchero Napa Valley

Friday, July 19
11:30 am Vintner’s Luncheon at Las Alcobas Napa Valley
6 pm Dance Gala: DIAVOLO | Architecture in Motion at Lincoln Theater
Saturday, July 20
11 am Free Concert – Bouchaine Young Artist Series: iSing Silicon Valley Girls Choir
1:30 pm Apollo 11 Film Screening
5:30 pm Song to the Moon: 50th Anniversary of the Apollo 11 Landing at Lincoln Theater
8 pm Wrap Party at Kitchen Collective
11:30 pm Season Finale Featuring Robyn Adele Anderson at Alpha Omega






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