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Music Performance

The ZanaFest Story

ZanaFest is named in honor of Richard Zana. Mr. Zana taught music in the Ambridge Area School District for 38 years at all levels - Elementary to High School. It is estimated that he touched the lives of over 15,000 students in his tenure. Whatever level he was teaching, his ensembles were at the top of the region, state, and many times, the whole country. He was an exceptional educator.


ZanaFest was founded in 2009 by an appreciative and enthusiastic group of former students following Zana’s death at age 67 from cancer. It was the idea of former student, Todd Tusick, to do a Music Festival of former students to honor Mr. Zana. Todd brought the idea to Greg Paul. At that time, Todd and Greg were part of a band that included three other Zana Students - Joe Feick, Marty Chirumbolo, and Greg’s brother, Jeff. They were playing as the house band at The Venue at Harmony Ridge, which was owned and  operated by Greg and his wife Ricki. The idea took off as others enthusiastically joined in the effort. Greg agreed to host the the first ZanaFest Music Festival at Harmony Ridge. He had just installed a state of the art house sound system and had a fully equipped stage at the Vanue.


In the spirit of education, the new committee organized a Youth Talent Show preceding the festival featuring talented kids of all ages to perform and compete for the top position in their age group. This also caught on and very quickly became the favorite part of ZanaFest by all the insiders. The winners of the Youth Talent Event were awarded prizes and invited to perform at the full festival, giving them a tremendous performance opportunity.


The inaugural ZanaFest was comprised mainly of former Zana students, many of which were professional musicians and performers. All were very happy to perform and pay tribute to their former teacher. The objective was to raise some money for charity in his name.


From that one-day event, ZanaFest raised enough money to begin the Richard D. Zana Memorial Fund with the Beaver County Foundation. A board of directors was formed and the clear mission of the charity was established - to provide music scholarships for deserving area students and donate to cancer organizations whenever possible.

Over the next several years, ZanaFest became a notable and anticipated regional event and had expanded to attract performing groups from the greater region as well as some national touring acts. All of the performers donated their time and talent to perform at the Festival. It had become quite a community.


The last year Harmony Ridge hosted, ZanaFest grew to include 67 acts over five days and three stages, covering virtually every music genre possible. There was something for everyone.

Then, in 2015, fire destroyed the Venue at Harmony Ridge, forcing ZanaFest to find a new home. At that time, Latitude 360, was one of the few facilities with the staging and space needed to host the festival. The owners and management readily agreed and ZanaFest moved to Latitude 360. It was a good fit and the change of Venue was successful. Then, before the  next ZanaFest was scheduled, Latitude encountered financial problems that were proved to be insurmountable and was forced to close. ZanFest was once again homeless.

By that time, the volunteer board had become exhausted as the festival had become so large that it required year round attention. There wasn’t much appetite to regroup and launch in another venue. Production costs at any of the possible venues were also very expensive, especially compared to the free use of the Harmony Ridge Facility that Greg & Ricki Paul had always provided. The board decided to give it a rest and festival planning ceased.

Even so, the Richard D. Zana Memorial Fund was intact and had grown enough to allow ZanaFest to continue providing Music Scholarships. The board takes great pride in this. 100% of the money raised has been invested to use for this purpose.

This brings us to present day and the ZanaFest Youth Talent Event. New board members have stepped in. New partnerships are being formed, and the original appreciation and enthusiasm that was present at the beginning is back in a strong way. Look for the new iteration of the ZanaFest Youth Talent Event to be nothing short of stellar. We plan for it to be a valuable asset to music educators and to the talented young musicians as they grow in their talent and craft.

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