voena

VOENA children's choir performs at Carnegie Hall in April. 

Cindi Stephan photo

For the second time in its history, VOENA, the North Bay’s extraordinary children’s choir, is headed to Carnegie Hall. A benefit concert on Jan. 21 at the Napa Valley Opera House will raise money in support of the April trip. Performers at the benefit will include VOENA, Jeff Campitelli, Peppino D’Agostino, Carlos Reyes and choir founder and director Annabelle Marie.

On the phone last week, VOENA spokesperson Michelle Fulbrook talked about the New York City performance. “The Carnegie Hall event is ‘The Music of Eric Whitacre,’” she said. “Whitacre is a composer and conductor who is known for his virtual choirs. He brings choirs from all over the world, from as many as 110 different countries, together virtually.

“He decided, ‘Well wouldn’t it be great if I did an actual live performance, bringing a bunch of choirs together from all over.’ So we have choirs from Tennessee, Washington, Dubai, Wisconsin, Texas, California. There’s 10 high school choirs, including VOENA.”

Seventeen members of VOENA will be in New York for five days, with the performance on April 8 on the Perelman Stage of the Stern Auditorium. “We have different levels in the choir,” Fulbrook said. “Most of the kids who are going to Carnegie are at the ‘Creavo’ level, which is our most elite level. Usually, kids are in the choir anywhere from four to eight years before they’re in that level, and they’re mostly high school students.”

The Jan. 21 benefit concert at the Opera House will be a mix of solo performances and collaborations bringing together VOENA; drummer/percussionist Capitelli, a veteran of the Joe Satriani band; guitarist/composer D’Agostino, who has performed with Tommy Emmanuel, Leo Kottke and Larry Carlton; Paraguayan harpist/violist Reyes, who has collaborated with Steve Miller, the Doobie Brothers and many others; and violinist and choir director Annabelle Marie.

“The Opera House has been wonderful and they’re donating the space for the day,” Fulbrook said. “In addition, all of the artists are donating their time for free. All we have to do is pay 10 percent for ticketing. Ninety percent of the proceeds will go to support the kids.”

Sunday, Jan. 21, 2:30 p.m. pre-concert wine and cheese reception and silent auction, 4 p.m. concert, 6 p.m. artist meet and greet. $40-$60. Napa Valley Opera House, 1030 Main St., Napa. 707-880-2300. nvoh.org.

Heads Up

Cheryl Bentyne and Mark Winkler Sunday at Silo’s

Cheryl Bentyne are Mark Winkler are jazz vocal pros with decades of award-winning performances and recordings. Bentyne, in her 33-year stint with Manhattan Transfer, won 10 Grammy Awards, including recognition for writing and arranging. Along the way, she has collaborated with some of the biggest names in jazz, including Richie Cole, Bobby McFerrin, Rob Wasserman and Stanley Clarke.

Winkler is a vocalist and lyricist with 11 of his own CDs. His compositions have been recorded by a who’s who of singers including Dianne Reeves, Liza Minelli and Dee Dee Bridgewater. He was selected as a 2017 ”Rising Star” Male Jazz Vocalist by Downbeat Magazine.

Sunday, Jan. 14, 7 p.m. (doors open 6 p.m.). $30-$35. Silo’s Napa. 530 Main St., Napa. 707-251-5833. SilosNapa.com.

David Kerns is a Napa-based freelance journalist. You can view more of his work at DavidKerns.com.

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