The Wollners

For the Wollners, it’s more than the music — it’s the community.

Howard and Barbara were introduced to Healdsburg Jazz through the magic of free live jazz at Hotel Healdsburg on Saturday nights. As a musical kickoff to date nights, and as a place to celebrate special milestones over the years, it’s not unusual to find the Wollners enjoying live jazz at the hotel to this day.

When they settled in Healdsburg full time in 2009, they became patrons of Healdsburg Jazz and Howard joined the Board of Directors for several years, helping to steward the organization and its annual festival. Barbara shared that they were drawn to the bounty and beauty of Sonoma, highlighting how important it is that we continue to protect our environment and support local agriculture and organic farmers, and to maintain our special community by engaging in local issues and contributing where we can make a difference. The Wollners are also supporters of Corazón Healdsburg, and have helped to make connections between organizations so concert programming is more representative of the Latin-American population of Healdsburg.

Several Healdsburg Jazz moments stand out as favorites for the couple, including back-to-back appearances by Esperanza Spalding at the annual festival, selling out the Raven Theater just as she was beginning her ascent in popularity. Legendary pianist Patricia Barber playing under the fairy lights of Barn Diva’s courtyard, and Marc Cary’s “Tribute to Abbey Lincoln” at The Shed in 2014 were joyful affairs to remember. And over the years, the opportunity to see the greats of jazz such as Charlie Haden, Bobby Hutcherson, and Billy Higgins, in intimate settings like those offered in Healdsburg, continue to be standout moments that the Wollners look forward to each year.

Looking ahead, Barbara and Howard are excited to see the festival continue to evolve to include intersecting art forms, like poetry and dance, which current Artistic Director Marcus Shelby has successfully incorporated into recent programming. They emphasized maintaining the delicate balance of keeping the festival intimate and accessible to locals and our younger audiences while allowing it to flourish in a sustainable way. They also reinforced the importance of continuing our focus on youth education, finding ways to be more inclusive, to further diversify our offerings, and that welcoming people of all ages and backgrounds is critical to our continued success. 

What advice would the Wollners have for those who are looking for ways to support the arts? If you have the resources, provide financial support—even small donations make a big difference. And if you have the time, consider becoming a volunteer. The volunteers of Healdsburg Jazz are critical to the success of our annual festival, and we simply could not do it without them! 

Click here to explore more ways to get involved.

By |2023-08-03T12:51:19-07:00February 16, 2023|Comments Off on The Wollners

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