Arizona Musicfest: North Valley celebrates some of the best artists

By Christina Fuoco-Karasinski

Arizona Musicfest executive director and producer Allan Naplan is celebrating his 10th anniversary there. His race was an incredible experience for him.

“It was such a wonderful and exciting adventure, so fulfilling, rewarding and successful,” says Naplan.

“When I came here in 2013, the total attendance in any given season was 7,000,” he says.

“Last season it was 32,000. It’s amazing what happened and how invested and generous our community has been. We’ve received $2 million in income from individual donations. Now we are a destination for the public and great artists.

For its 2022/2023 season, the lineup includes artist Marie Osmond; David Foster, winner of 14 Grammy Awards, with famous singer and wife Katharine McPhee; Tony-winning stage and screen star Jason Alexander; American music favorite Rosanne Cash; the leading lady of Broadway, Kelli O’Hara; famous artists Michael Feinstein and Jean-Yves Thibaudet; Musicfest crowd favorites Big Bad Voodoo Daddy; the Festival Orchestra, under the direction of Maestro Robert Moody; along with dozens of other artists performing between October and April.

“Marie Osmond has been fun and such a beloved part of American culture and entertainment for so long,” he says. “She’s second of the year on November 12. We also have Jason Alexander, who was George Costanza on ‘Seinfeld,’ and he’s still a Broadway performer. He’s a song and dance guy and he won a Tony.

“He will be with a very large orchestra, just like Marie Osmond. Kelli O’Hara is one of Broadway’s leading ladies. She will be there. On the celebrity side, we have David Foster and Katharine McPhee now doing two shows on February 18. Their first performance, at 7:30 p.m., was the best-selling concert in our history.

The second performance is the 3 p.m. show.

“They are two wonderful artists, and we are delighted.”

Cash and Feinstein return, the latter for an exclusive engagement in which he performs with Thibaudet.

“It’s (Thibaudet) a really exceptional classical pianist who joined a show,” says Naplan. “They play Musicfest and Palm Desert two nights apart. It’s a really special show to have these really exceptional artists doing a duo show together.

A number of tribute artists are also listed, including Respect: A Tribute to Aretha Franklin and Takin’ It to the Streets: A Doobie Brothers Tribute.

“Our nostalgia shows are really well received,” he says. “We have an important change with the festival orchestra. Instead of doing five shows in one week, we changed that pattern to two weeks – one in February and one in March – with three shows a week.

Naplan knows music well. He spent 20 years in opera, seven years as a bachelor and 13 years as an opera administrator.

“At Musicfest, this is my longest tenure,” he says. “I often say that we are scratching the surface of our potential. We continue to grow. We add more shows, and more people come. We continue to increase the caliber of artists who come. Without the public, the donors, the board and the volunteers, it wouldn’t work. The ideas were so wonderfully received.

Calendar of the 2022-2023 concert season

• Brass Transit: Chicago’s Musical Legacy, November 7

• Marie Osmond, November 12

• Kurt Elling with Musicfest Big Band, November 21

• Big Bad Voodoo Daddy: wild and swinging Christmas party, December 2

• An Appalachian Christmas by Mark O’Connor, December 6

• The Modern Gentlemen: Harmony, Soul & Rock’n’Roll, January 6

• Gunhild Carling with the Arizona Musicfest Big Band, January 15

• Shawn Colvin, Marc Cohn and Sarah Jarosz: Together in concert, January 20

• Jason Alexander: star of stage and screen, January 23

• Live from Laurel Canyon: Songs and Stories of American Folk Rock, January 27

• The Black Market Trust, February 7

• A Swingin’ Valentines: Nicole Pesce with Paolo Alderighi and Stephanie Trick, February 14

• David Foster and Katherine McPhee, February 18

• 50 years of rock ‘n’ roll by Neil Berg – Part 3, February 25 and February 26

• Michael Feinstein and Jean Yves Thibaudet: Two Pianos – Who Could Ask for More, March 5

• Zukerman Trio: with Pinchas Zukerman, Amanda Forsyth and Shai Wosner, March 19

• Kelli O’Hara, March 21

• Rosanne Cash, March 24

• Tito Puente Jr., March 31

• Save the date for a jazz favorite from Arizona Musicfest, April 3

• Legacy Folk Trio, April 11

• Respect: A Tribute to Aretha Franklin, April 17

• Takin’ It to the Streets: A Doobie Brothers Tribute, April 29

Calendar 2022-2023 of the Festival Orchestra

• The Festival Orchestra: Wagner, Mozart and Dvorak with maestro Robert Moody and violinist Jonathan Okseniuk, February 1

• The Festival Orchestra: Brahms and Tchaikovsky with maestro Robert Moody and pianist Haochen Zhang, February 3

• Creation with the Orchestra and Choir of the Festival with Maestro Robert Moody and Soloists, February 5

• The Festival Orchestra: Williams, Mendelssohn and Tchaikovsky with maestro Robert Moody with violinist Ben Beilman, March 7

• The Festival Orchestra: Stravinsky’s Firebird and Mahler’s 4th Symphony with Maestro Robert Moody, March 9

• US Naval Academy Glee Club with the Festival Orchestra, March 10

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