Music Napa Valley: Masters Series 

    Napa Valley College

    The 2012/13 concert season at Napa Valley College (NVC) kicks off with two Masters Series events, each featuring NVC professors at the top of their game. Starting things off on October 7 at 7:30 is Unforgettable Hits from Nat King Cole. Dr. Roberto-Juan González continues his exploration of the deep treasure chest of hits from  the consummate songwriter and performer, revisiting songs from the 1940's to the 60's when Cole recorded more than 500 love songs and swing tunes, charming his way into the hearts of America and the world. The crooner is joined by the magnificent Michael Parsons Jazz Trio, featuring Michael Parsons on piano, Adam Guy playing bass, and Ulf Bjorkbom on drums. The concert is performed in the 450-seat Main Theater at the Napa Valley College Performing Arts Center.

     For those who like their music earthy, soprano and NVC instructor Vicky Van Dewark presents Low Life and High Art: Songs of Delight, Despair and Depravity on Oct. 21 at 3 p.m. Employing  the lofty art of song, Ms Van Dewark takes us on a journey from lowly beginnings in the French countryside to Paris, Germany and Rotterdam. At last, in New York, we find expression in the witty, world-weary wisdom of Dorothy Parker. There has been a search for love in all the wrong places. Will it finally be found? Accompanied by pianist Daniel Lockert, Vicky Van Dewark is also joined by former Napa Poet Laureate, Gary Silva. Low Life and High Art is presented in the intimate Silvagni Recital Hall at the Napa Valley College Performing Arts Center.

    Admission to either event is $20 General; $15 Seniors/Students/Military. Tickets may be purchased online at or by phone through the NVC Box Office at 707-256-7500. The Napa Valley College Performing Arts Center is located at 2277 Napa-Vallejo Hwy. in Napa. Plenty of free parking. 

    Dr. Roberto González, Napa Valley College's orchestra conductor for 23 years, began singing when he was six. Raised a church musician, he owes a great measure of his musical career to the musical environment at the Union Church of San Juan, Puerto Rico, where he was first made a professional conductor at the age of 15, having been nurtured as a pianist and vocalist in the comprehensive music ministry. While earning his undergraduate degree at InterAmerican University in Puerto Rico, San Germán, he was asked to sit in as pianist with a Latino dance band, where he then became the crooner of slow ballads on weekends. On arriving at Indiana's Ball State University for graduate studies in orchestra conducting, where he finished his doctorate in 1983, he was trained as an operatic lyric tenor, but never really wanted the commitment that an operatic career required. He did maintain a career as church musician, which provided an outlet for his singing. His real interest lay in the American Songbook, but no suitable opportunities presented themselves for exploration, at that time.

    In 2006, he met Richard Nichol, director and vocal coach of the San Francisco Academy for Performing Arts, and began singing again. It was during one of the Academy's evenings, at the now-defunct Octavia Lounge on Market Street, that he met Michael Parsons, a brilliant stride pianist and composer in the tradition of Oscar Peterson, Bud Powell, and Thelonious Monk. Invited to participate in a bebop party presented by Parsons and his trio at Octavia, González began exploring and crooning classics from the American Songbook in the company of Parsons. The combination was so stimulating and so much fun for the pianist and singer that they began doing concert gigs to present their work, together.

    Vicky Van Dewark has performed opera, oratorio, and art song in the Bay Area, West Coast and Hawaii. She was soprano soloist in such major works as Mozart's Grand Mass in C Minor and Verdi's Requiem. Her major opera roles included Donna Elvira in Mozart's Don Giovanni, Norma in Bellini's Norma, Fiordiligi in Mozart's Cosi fan tutte and Queen Elizabeth in Donizetti's Anna Bolena. She participated in San Francisco Opera's production of Wagner's Ring Cycle as a cover for the role of Waltraute. Her engagements have taken her to Davies Hall, Hertz Hall, Herbst Theater and the Paramount Theater and to appearances with Pocket Opera, Cinnabar Opera, Berkeley Opera, Concert Opera of San Francisco, San Francisco Ballet, Berkeley Symphony, Santa Rosa Symphony, Sacramento Symphony, Oakland Symphony and the California Bach Society. 

    Since moving to Napa in 1999 she has been holding art song and opera workshops as well as student recitals in her Mt. Veeder Voice Studio. She has maintained a private studio since l979.

    As a member of the National Association of Teachers of Singing (NATS), Ms Van Dewark has helped promote student recitals in the East Bay and Napa areas. She is also a member of both the San Francisco Bay Area and Redwood Empire Chapters of NATS. Vicky has been on the faculty of Napa Valley College since 2002. She has also taught at Holy Names University in Oakland from 1989 until 2003 (where she served as the coordinator of the Opera Scenes Workshop) and Contra Costa College as vocal coach for the musicals from 1976 to 1978.