Jarvis Conservatory Opening in Napa
Nearly 800 music lovers from Napa, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Nevada,
New York and other locations throughout the U.S. joined William and
Leticia Jarvis for the opening of the Jarvis Conservatory in July
In order to better understand the function and mission of this unique
facility, William Jarvis made the following remarks.
I had a lot of fun designing and building this conservatory! Although
paying for it wasnt as much fun. Friends from the San Francisco
Opera have referred to this theater as an acoustic jewel and for this
I thank my wife, Leticia, who first saw the potential of these 22-
inch-thick stone walls. In order to get good acoustics you must start
by retaining your low frequencies: there is nothing better for that
than walls such as these. Of course, we also got an instant 100 years
of history from the old stone building.
The stone walls are just the foundation for good acoustics. To further
the acoustic treatment, I called my friend, Dave Kahn, from New York.
He is a world-class acoustician who worked long and hard on this project.
Another top theatrical consultant friend of mine, also from New York,
Steve Friedlander, helped enormously with all the specialized theatrical
features. Ron Sutton, who has done other architectural work for me,
provided the detailed drawings that made it all work.
Finally, the real heroes for this project were the builders, more
than 200 craftsmen led by local builder, Larry Ellis, and his assistant,
Dan Brokman. I found Napa craftsmen to be as good or better than any
I have worked with in other parts of the world and we can thank them
for their work, finishing this job in a bit more than one year including
the adding of a basement floor beautifully outfitted as performers
Our old stone building has already outlived several generations of
Napans and will probably outlive all of us in this generation. With
this in mind, I did my best to carry on the tradition started by the
original Portuguese stone mason and sherry maker, Joseph Matthews.
We built it well so it would be a lasting memory to my family and
so it would fulfill its function of fostering the fine arts, not only
here in Napa but spreading to other parts of the world. It is interesting
to note that our first Baroque Dance Festival included student dancers
from Italy, Norway, Japan, several from New York, and others from
across the country with a healthy representation from our own Napa
Valley College and from the rest of the San Francisco Bay Area.
The fine arts that we will be presenting here will be mainly the classics,
those that have stood the test of time and have proved their lasting
value in inspiring people to greater and nobler ideas.
To the extent that we succeed in our mission, those artists who come
to study here will leave, better able to interpret the fine arts for
all those who will be attending their performances in the future.
It is our hope that the 220 or so people that this hall holds, those
who will attend the performances here, will feel that their high aspirations
will be served.
Most of us agree that Man does not live by bread alone.
It is that certain enrichment in our lives that makes our whole lifes
struggle worthwhile and satisfying. Johann Sebastian Bach signed all
his works with the words. Solely for the glory of God.
The better the fine arts, the closer they approach God. We are talking
about the same values as Bach.
First, visitors got 15 minutes of entertainment so they could experience
the theater acoustics and have some fun as well, we invited a traditional
Tuna to come play for us. The name Tuna has nothing to do with the
sandwich by the same name. These eight musicians are mostly college
students from Mexico City and they play classic music. I told you
that the Jarvis Conservatory is into classic music. Now, if any of
you are thinking that classic music is O.K., but for somebody else,
be prepared for a surprise! The classical music these young men sing
is based on hundreds of years of tradition. It is authentic Spanish
music played with traditional instruments. And just like Spanish and
Mexican singers have done for years, they use this music to serenade
their girlfriends. They also serenade their mothers on Mothers
Day. It is a great tradition and they give you a little taste of it
today including the traditional giving of a flower.
Reflecting on my job as Director, it takes a special talent to direct
a music conservatory. Money is essential but is not the most important
ingredient. My preparation included music history studies at U.C.
Berkeley, at Catholique Institute of the West in Angers, France and
at Stanford where I also studied some composition and instrumental
music. I am not at the Conservatory to perform music which I am not
particularly good at; rather I must use my talent in bringing music
out of other people, not music for its own sake, but music that tells
the story of the work we are producing. Perhaps the essence of a music
conservatory directors job is to encourage artists to tell a
meaningful story in a beautiful way. www.jarvisconservatory.com