Arizona Musicfest: North Valley celebrates some of the best artists

By Christina Fuoco-Karasinski

Arizona Musicfest executive and producing director Allan Naplan is celebrating his 10th anniversary there. His run has been an amazing experience for him.

“It’s been a wonderful and exciting ride, so fulfilling and rewarding and successful,” Naplan says.

“When I arrived here in 2013 total attendance in a given season was 7,000,” he says.

“Last season was 32,000. It’s amazing what has happened and how invested and generous our community has been. We’ve received $2 million in donated income from individuals. Now, we’re a destination for audience and major artists.”

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

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

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

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

“These are two wonderful artists, and we’re excited about it.”

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

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

A number of tribute artists are listed as well, 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 concerts in one week, we’ve changed that model so there are two weeks — one in February and one in March — with three concerts each week.”

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

“At Musicfest, it’s my longest tenure,” he says. “I frequently say we’re scratching the surface of our potential. We keep on growing. We add more shows, and more people come. We keep on increasing the caliber of artists who come. Without the audiences, donors, board and volunteers, it would not work. There’s been such a wonderful reception to the ideas.”

2022-2023 concert season calendar

• Brass Transit: The Musical Legacy of Chicago, November 7

• Marie Osmond, November 12

• Kurt Elling with the Musicfest Big Band, November 21

• Big Bad Voodoo Daddy: Wild and Swingin’ Holiday Party, December 2

• Mark O’Connor’s An Appalachian Christmas, 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 & 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

• Neil Berg’s 50 Years of Rock ’n’ Roll – Part 3, February 25 and February 26

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

• Zukerman Trio: Featuring 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 an Arizona Musicfest jazz favorite, April 3

• The Folk Legacy Trio, April 11

• Respect: A Tribute to Aretha Franklin, April 17

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

2022-2023 Festival Orchestra calendar

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

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

• The Creation with the Festival Orchestra and Chorus 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

• U.S. Naval Academy Glee Club with the Festival Orchestra, March 10

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