Tenor Diego Garcia performing with Richard Evans on piano
Publicity advertisement from the It's A Grand Night For Singers! September 7th, 2013 performance
The Jarvis Conservatory's singing program began November 4th, 1995. The original designation was SATURDAY OPERA NIGHT. It was the brainchild of Conservatory founder William Eugene Jarvis. After converting the abandoned 1860's Lisbon Winery into a full service performing arts conservatory, he and his wife Leticia (Artistic Director of The Jarvis Conservatory) not only sought out and brought to fruition the finest of Spanish opera, they also had a passion for bringing people together to celebrate singing. Having now a theater that was designed specifically to enhance the human voice, this passion now became a reality.
The 2015 20th Anniversary It's A Grand Night For Singers! playbill, William Jarvis wrote:
"An inspiration we had for IT’S A GRAND NIGHT FOR SINGERS at the Jarvis Conservatory came from early days in San Francisco where there were two ordinary Italian bars that offered piano accompaniment for opera singers.
One was “Bocce Ball” on Broadway named after an Italian bocce ball court, in the back of the room. Another piano bar was Viene Viene in North Beach. The name “Viene Viene” means “Come Come” in Italian. This place still exists as a small bar only, but no longer the piano, and no longer the baritone bartender-owner who at some point during each night always sang the same aria from Verdi’s Il Trovatore. A final inspiration was Bea Goman’s “Gay Nineties” on San Francisco’s Barbary Coast which doesn’t exist anymore. I attended these places as a young Naval Officer when on duty on Treasure Island.
When Leticia and I founded the present Jarvis Conservatory in Napa twenty years ago, we wanted to encourage local singers, and remembered the San Francisco experience as a fun model for our local singers, and 'would be' singers.
We are proud to have seen this program grow and develop into what it is today."
- William E. Jarvis 11/07/15
20th Anniversary souvenir guide
It's A Grand Night For Singers
William and Leticia Jarvis attached composer Richard B. Evans to the project. As founding music director and host, Mr. Evans constructed the concert to showcase Bay Area singers in opera as well as musical theater. He would also lead seminar discussions on the era of the music being performed and insights to the composer's creative process and historical particulars. In 2000 Mr. Evans stepped down from running SATURDAY OPERA NIGHT to pursue composing and producing ventures in New York City.
Tenor Javier Nuñes performing with Kristin Panokin on piano
From SATURDAY OPERA NIGHT 02/05/05 archival video footage
Pianist Kristin Panokin signed on as the Music Director. Ms. Panokin was an excellent piano accompanist and a possessed a mastery of sight reading music. Known for her spontaneity, after completing the roster of scheduled performers, she would ask the audience if any of them brought music and would invite them on the stage. These off-the-cuff moments always resulted in thunderous applause. Ms. Panokin led the SATURDAY OPERA NIGHT program for five years until she had to step down due to health reasons. It was 2005 when Richard B. Evans returned to the Jarvis Conservatory's singing program, only this time it was re-branded as IT'S A GRAND NIGHT FOR SINGERS.
Honorary plaque commemorating the 20th anniversary of the singing program.
November 7th, 2015
Richard Evans, during his 17-year career as a music professor, was named one of two Outstanding Professors of 1981–1982 in the California State University system. With his return to the singing program, now IT'S A GRAND NIGHT FOR SINGERS, Richard Evans once again infused his deep knowledge of history and composer insights and continued the program until March 2020. The Coronavirus Pandemic disabled live events at The Jarvis Conservatory for twenty months. During this time, the founding music director of IT'S A GRAND NIGHT FOR SINGERS retired and moved to Bend, Oregon with his wife Debra.
Frank Johnson is the third Music Director of The Jarvis Conservatory's ongoing singing program, now called IT'S A GRAND NIGHT FOR SINGING! January 1st, 2020 will be the first performance.