Arizona Musicfest. Photo via Facebook

Arizona Musicfest Fall Festival Returns for Second Year

Written by Nikole Tower Category: Music Issue: November 2017
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Arizona Musicfest has taken place in and around the North Valley every winter for the past 27 years, showcasing the best local classical and country talent. Some artists travel far to perform while others grew up honing their craft right here in Phoenix.

For the second time, Arizona Musicfest will hold a Fall Festival from Nov. 3 to Nov. 17 featuring acts like Dennis Rowland and Grammy Award-winner Mary Chapin Carpenter.

The Fall Festival includes the following six events: Neil Diamond cover band Super Diamond, the Young Musicians Fall Concert featuring the state’s young classical artists, Dennis Rowland with Diana Lee, Stan Kenton Legacy Orchestra, Mary Chapin Carpenter and The HillBenders. The event will be spread out between four stages located at the Pinnacle Presbyterian Church, La Casa de Cristo Church, Highlands Church and the Musical Instrument Museum.

PHOENIX got the scoop on the festival from Executive and Producing Director Allan Naplan, who has been working with Arizona Musicfest for the last five years. We also spoke with Dennis Rowland and Jim Rea of The HillBenders on what they’re most looking forward to this year.

“It has become perfectly obvious to us that there are music fans living here all year round and also some of our winter residents are largely coming back in November,” Naplan said about continuing the Fall Fest for a second year. “So we thought it would be good to expand the opportunities available to the community.”

This music festival isn’t solely about entertaining the audience. There is also a focus on providing local artists with the opportunity to perform on a stage, he said.

Rowland will be performing with Lee and the Greg Warner Trio on Nov. 7. He was previously the lead singer of the Count Basie Orchestra. Rowland is one of the handful of Arizona residents on stage and it will be his second time playing at this festival.

“The whole festival is a great thing,” Rowland said. “I've seen other people play there too. When I played there, I liked that everyone was ready for it. Everyone's going to have a great time.”

Diverting from the classical music theme, The HillBenders are closing the festival with a bluegrass twist on Nov. 17. They are best known now for their cover of The Who’s “Tommy,” but don't expect to hear it at the show.

“It's definitely not your grandpa's bluegrass music,” Rea said. “We will touch on some of the traditional bluegrass songs. I think we have a much more higher energy presentation. We're all plugged in to separate mics so it's a larger sound. There's a little bit of something for everybody.”

Tickets are available at or by phone at 480-422-8449. Information on the Arizona Musicfest can also be found online.