Li Galli, the mythical archipelago consisting of a trio of small islands off the Amalfi Coast of Positano, is the fabulous setting of Olivia Decker Power of Music Festival Napa Valley’s memorial concert on June 24 to celebrate the life of Bruce Katz, a beloved friend of many San Franciscans and Giovanni Russo, the owner of Li Galli Island. The magnificent evening included a classic Italian dinner, fireworks, and an exclusive concert featuring acclaimed Italian tenor Pasquale Esposito with special guests Broadway singer Christina Maxwell and renowned composer-conductor Adriano Pennino. Olivia introduced Bruce and Giovanni in 1996, and the duo became best friends and shared their friends together on Li Galli and other beautiful trips on Bruce’s yacht, Julie, for many years.
Known to Italians as the most magical place in the Mediterranean and the island of the sirens, Li Galli attracted Russian choreographer and dancer Léonide Massine, who purchased the island in 1920s, rebuilt the medieval stone watchtower, constructed the walkways, villas, and the terraces for gardens and vines, and established a dance school on the island. In the 1980s, the Rudolf Nureyev Foundation purchased the island and decorated villa in tiles from Istanbul and entertained many VIPs and dancers. In 1995, prominent hotelier Giovanni Russo acquired Li Galli and extensively renovated the island including a small church, the harbor with a dock which was dedicated to Bruce Katz, the exquisite, cave-like indoor pool, beautiful bedrooms, living room, and kitchen in the medieval stone tower and the two villas.
The magnificent terrace of main island boasts views of the other two small islands, just in front and the island of Capri in the far distance. There was no better setting than Li Galli for the concert at sunset. Giovanni and his wife, Nicoletta, invited Italian friends who knew Bruce as well as friends from San Francisco. Esposito performed classic Italian songs such as “Torna A Surriento,” “O Sole Mio,” “Volare,” “Caruso,” “Nessun Dorma” and American classics such as “My Way,” “What a Wonderful Day,” and “I Can’t Help Falling in Love with You.” He also performed two beautiful duets with Maxwell: “The Prayer” and “In Un Tramonto” which Pasquale composed about the sunset.
Bruce and his father were founders of Rockport, a successful shoe company that was sold to Reebok in 1986 for $118.5 million. Bruce fulfilled a longtime dream building of the 143-foot sailing yacht Juliet and invested in online and software ventures like The Well and the Republic of Tea. He was a generous philanthropist in supporting nonprofit arts including Mill Valley Film Festival, San Francisco Opera and many others. This memorial concert was most befitting for the life of Bruce who was a great inspiration for so many San Franciscans including me.