Zanafest

Festival Honors Beloved Music Educator Richard D. Zana
Launched in 209 Zanafest is a 5 day all genre music festival held annually the third week of September to honor beloved music educator Richard D. Zana.   Zanafest was established for a man whose devotion to music touched so many and inspired them to reach for their own dreams.  His students celebrate a man who taught them  how to enjoy life through music. He brought joy and laughter to all who knew him and is deeply missed. The goal of the festival is honor a dear musical mentor by continuing his work of helping and encouraging the young talent of today.  The mission of ZanaFest is to support the Richard D. Zana Memorial Fund, of the Beaver County Foundation.  The purpose of the fund is to provide music scholarships for talented area students and to benefit cancer/health organizations.  Zanafest also supports young musicians through a youth talent showcase, Battle of the bands and festival performances. 

Each year 50 to 60 acts perform at the Harmony Ridge Country Club during the five-day event that runs from Wednesday through Saturday featuring nights of blues, jazz, rock, and country. Artists who have performed at the Zanafest included jazz legend Joe Negri, American Idol finalist ‪‎Kristy Lee Cook, ‬Rob James of the Clarks, Cello Fury, The Granati Brothers, The Forty Nineteens, Rick Witkowski, Anthony Rankin, Neids Hotel Band, Love Bette, Etta Cox, Shari Richards, The Olga Watkins Band, Boulevard of the Allies,The Bill Pate Trio, The Eldorado Band, Bob Banerjee, Dallas Marks, , Corned Beef & Curry, the King Beaver Barbershoppers and the Ambridge Steel Drums Band. The Festival also features at a drum circle, performance by youth talent contest winners, children's music and craft activities, face painters and dance performances.   

Richard D. Zana

Born Aug. 6, 1940, in Tarentum, Pa. Richard Zana was a 1958 graduate of Indiana University of Pennsylvania where was award a B.S. in music education. He continued his music studies at Duquesne University where received his masters in music education in 1964.  Zana was a a music teacher for the Ambridge School District for 38 years retiring in 2000. He taught music classes in the junior high school and served as both band director and choir director. Zana directed the Baden-Economy Junior High School Chorus in the early 1970s taking they students to perform all across Pennsylvania.  They performed ''Hallelujah Chorus'' and the music of Jesus Christ Superstar.  The student who powerfully sang the part of Mary left audiences in tears.  The Chorus won many awards and recorded a live album.  He and Sal Aloe founded the Ambridge Area High School Steel Drum program.  The Steel Drum Band played many dates including appearances at Heinz Hall, Disney World, and conventions. Outside of his teaching work Zan directed the Beaver Valley Barber Shop Chorus, the Sweet Adelines Barber Shop Chorus, coached other quartets, and sang in the King Beaver Barbershoppers.  He passed away at age 67 on Sunday, July 13, 2008. 

In an opinion article Lauren Ricthtie ,a staff writer of the Orlando Sentinal and former student of Zana's, name his as her best teacher and wrote about how Zana inspired and motivated his students.  

"Six feet tall, freckled and skinny, with long fingers and twinkling brown eyes. He'd burst into song, leap from behind a piano onto a rickety chair, arms swinging purposefully as he directed a hundred singing junior high kids.

Something would go wrong - maybe one poor soul would clap at the wrong time. He'd roll those big eyes and drop his chin dramatically on his chest, his arms flapping to his sides. We'd all groan and hoot, and he'd come to life again, jumping behind the piano to give us pitches to start over.

The guy was relentless.  Practice, practice, practice. His standard was (merely) perfection, and he expected his chorus to live up to it. So, of course, we did. You don't let somebody like Richard Zana down. You don't even consider it.

.....Most of us had sung with Mr. Zana since the first grade. By ninth, we would have done nearly anything for him. Familiarity did not breed contempt. Instead, it was an emotional, triangular nuclear reaction between us, him and music that just kept exploding."

Ambridge Steel Drum Band at Disney World


Richard D. Zana Memorial Fund

The Richard D. Zana Memorial fund was founded by a group of appreciative former students of
Mr. Zana to honor his life and career by providing both music scholarships for talented area students and
benefits for cancer research. The fund is supported by ZanaFest, an annual music festival meant to
preserve his enthusiasm of music and celebrate the life of one of Beaver County’s most influential
teachers. The Richard D. Zana Memorial Fund is held within The Beaver County Foundation, a
community foundation and trust authorized to function as such by the Internal Revenue Service and the
Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Beaver County Foundation, PO Box 569, Beaver, PA 15009.