HIGHLAND PARK, IL (January 25, 2022)—Ravinia Festival welcomes two new hires–Alejandra Valarino Boyer and Blake Smith–who will lead the festival’s Steans Music Institute and Communications departments respectively. Arielle Basile, who was Operations Manager of the Steans Music Institute, has been promoted to Assistant Director.
Alejandra Valarino Boyer joins the Steans Music Institute as its new Director, effective March 1. With more than ten years of experience in arts administration, Boyer is a strategic leader with experience in community engagement, production management, and program development through her work at Seattle Opera and Lyric Opera of Chicago. She has experience in designing learning programs for youth and adults, building and growing authentic community partnerships, and producing theatrical productions. An advocate for racial equity, she founded BIPOC Arts, an online database that celebrates opera professionals of color. Boyer is a current participant of the 2021 Sphinx LEAD program and serves on the board of directors for Opera America.
Blake Smith has joined the Communications department as its Chief Brand, Marketing, and Communications Officer. Smith is an innovative executive-level brand relationship creator with a proven track record of globally driving value, developing partnerships, and building cultural relevance for some of the world’s most iconic brands, including Virgin Hotels where he was the Vice President of Entertainment and Brand Partnerships. Smith’s deep understanding of the entertainment industry comes from decades of experience as an artist, songwriter, and marketing professional, and he looks forward to implementing his innovation and passion to support the Ravinia brand and mission.
“Ravinia is delighted to welcome both Alejandra and Blake to the team. Their successful careers and their passions reflect the festival’s values and show they can lead their respective departments through meaningful innovation and collaboration,” Jeff Haydon, Ravinia’s President and CEO, said. “We are also very proud of Arielle and her many achievements here, and are looking forward to her continued growth and success.”
After holding the title of Operation Manager for the Steans Music Institute for four years, Arielle Basile was promoted to Assistant Director. A dedicated and passionate supporter of the arts, Basile has more than seven years of experience as an arts administrator, previously working with the Knoxville Opera Company in Tennessee and the Janiec Opera Company at the Brevard Music Center in North Carolina. Basile has served on the Employer Advisory Board of the College Career Consortium of Illinois since 2019 and is an active member of Ravinia Festival’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Staff Working Group.
North America’s oldest music festival, Ravinia opened on August 15, 1904, as a high-end amusement park—complete with a music pavilion, baseball stadium, and dance hall—as a reason to get people to ride the uncompleted train line connecting Chicago and Milwaukee. When the railway went bust a few years later, local businessmen purchased Ravinia to run it as a music festival. In 1936, the not-for-profit Ravinia Festival Association took over ownership of the festival’s 36-acre park, and the festival’s long and enviable relationship as the summer residence of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra began. Ravinia is known for presenting music of all genres, and over the years the festival has made headlines with events like Benny Goodman performing with an integrated band, Janis Joplin giving one of her final concerts, and Princess Magogo, the first Zulu opera.
Today Ravinia is the only private train stop in Illinois, with Metra’s Union Pacific North line stopping at the Grand Entrance. The festival is located about 20 miles north of Chicago at Green Bay and Lake Cook Roads in Highland Park. Onsite parking is limited, and the festival operates a free park-and-ride shuttle bus service to nearby lots along the train line.
Guests can bring their picnics, including food and liquor. A full range of dining options is available at the park, from casual carts to fine dining. Ravinia performances occur rain or shine.
Visit Ravinia’s website for more information.