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March 16, 2015

Spotlight: Festival of the Desert

Hold the denim jumpsuits and feather earrings. Opera, dance, and classical music devotees are packing overnight bags filled with elegant shift dresses and skinny ties this week, and heading to the Coachella Valley. Ahead of the region’s famed Music and Arts Festival and its country cousin Stagecoach, there’s a new cosmopolitan gathering drawing an international coterie of revelers toward Southern California’s dune-filled southeastern region. The inaugural Festival of the Desert was conjured up by Barrett Wissman—the IMG Artists chairman who is also the mind behind Napa Valley’s Festival del Sole—and it takes place on Wednesday, March 18. The Paris Opera’s Philippe Jordan serves as this year’s artistic director and he’s gathered a group of performers that includes soprano Renée Fleming, pianist Alfredo Rodriguez, and guitarist Angel Romero as well as dancers Veronika Part of American Ballet Theatre (ABT) and Maria Kowroski of New York City Ballet (NYCB). The day-long event includes two concerts that take place in Palm Desert’s McCallum Theatre while lunch, a Michael Kaiser-led discussion of art in America, and a gala dinner with musical performances curated by Quincy Jones and dances overseen by ABT’s David Hallberg, all take place at Sunnylands Center & Gardens—the former Annenberg estate—in Rancho Mirage. In all, the festival promises to be a memorable day of tunes and talk, minus the neon necklaces and acres of fringe.

By Elizabeth Varnell


Pictured: Philippe Jordan, artistic director of the inaugural Festival of the Desert.
Photo By: Jean-FranÁois Leclercq

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