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Napa Valley Opera House artistic director Evy Warshawski has announced they’ve decided to postpone the planned Idol NV instrumental competition until spring 2009.

The instrumental competition will follow the highly successful Idol NV singing competition that the Opera House sponsored last winter for local singers ages 13-19.

We have decided to  hold our competitions every other year,” Warshawski said. “This will allow additional time to really scour the Valley for young instrumental talent lurking out there … shy as they may be. I would also like to invite one of the judges each night to perform as well as judge, and booking this additional layer takes time.

“We were delightfully consumed with ‘Tony ‘n Tina's Wedding’ throughout December (12 overly-sold-out shows!,” she added, with students just returning to school this week from a three-week winter holiday, she said she made the “difficult decision” to postpone the competition. “I want to dedicate a year to making our second event as terrific as the first,” she said.

 Napa’s new art house,  the Nest, has been transformed into a bright Chinese lantern for the opening of their new exhibition “Shanghai Chic.” The public is invited to an opening reception with “delicious fare and exotic flare” Thursday, Jan. 10, from 6 to 8 p.m.

Shanghai is the largest city of the People’s Republic of China and the 10th largest in the world. It is popularly seen as the birthplace of everything considered modern in China. Inspired by the high-style look of 1930s Shanghai, the shop will feature shadow boxes by Rueben Godinez, elaborate silk jackets, brocade pillows, cloisonné jewels by Nancy Shapiro and Liz Lopez, Asianesque ceramics, tiger balm, teas and more.

 On display also will be paintings by Napa artist Miki Hsu Leavey, including a sneak preview of work she is preparing for a solo exhibition in Shanghai later this year. Photographers Ron Zak and Richard Reisman will show dramatic photographs from a trip to China next to work by the Returning Swallows, a group of young girls adopted from China and mentored by photographer Norma Quintana on their first journey to their homeland.

Next month, the Nest celebrates both Chinese New Year and Valentines Day at a Firecracker Valentines Sale and Card Workshop Feb. 9 and 10, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Local artists will have creative Valentines gifts available and will lead card-making workshops for all ages.

The Nest is inspired by a vision to create a community gathering place to showcase local artists. A portion of profits are set aside to build the “Nest Egg” grants, which will be awarded to local artists and arts organizations through the Arts Council of Napa Valley.

The Nest is open, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday through Tuesday at 1019 Atlas Peak Road, Napa, behind Jessel Gallery. E-mail for more information, or call 255-7484.

The Arts Council of Napa Valley hosts a Community Cultural Plan Workshop Wednesday, Jan. 23, 6-8 p.m. at the  Napa Valley Opera House, 1030 Main St,, Napa

The council is inviting community members from American Canyon to Calistoga and beyond to the final round of public input before they craft  their final cultural plan for Napa County.  It will be a lively workshop, where everyone will get the chance to participate, and at the end all be rewarded by a reception catered by ZuZu.  For more information, call the Arts Council at 257-9117.

A wet day in Angwin found two big white trucks and a forklift outside Paulin Hall at the Pacific Union College — delivering 22 piano boxes marking the first phase of a $1.2 million dream.  

In April 2007, a study of the aging instruments used by teachers, students and performers in the PUC music department and the Paulin Center verified that the piano fleet needed extensive upgrading. Inspired by the gift of a nine-foot Steinway concert grand from PUC alumnus David Tsao, the college began raising funds to replace pianos and renovate practice rooms.

“This is the greatest thing that has happened in my 35 years here,” said Lynn Wheeler, chair of the music department. The upgrades will affect not only the piano students, he  said, but students of other instruments who use the practice rooms and piano accompaniment.

“We’re trying to get the ones students use the most replaced in this first installment.” The college will continue fund raising to complete the project replacing nearly all the pianos in the fleet and finishing renovations.

Paulin Hall, home of the Pacific Union College music department and the Paulin Center for the Creative Arts, hosts approximately 10 concerts each year, including performances by artists from around the world as well as students.

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