Blending music & nature at Lake Tahoe Music Festival

By Jenn Sheridan  ·



Bring a picnic a chair and a bottle of wine and prepare to enjoy an evening with the 20-piece Academy Orchestra during the Lake Tahoe Music Festival from July 22 to 26 at five scenic venues around Tahoe. This is the second year that Lake Tahoe Music Festival has returned to the area after a two-year hiatus.

The festival began in 2007 with regional orchestra and choruses performing with the sun setting over Lake Tahoe as a backdrop. It quickly grew into a highly anticipated annual event with headliners including Huey Lewis, Wynonna Judd and Blues Travler. However, in 2011, small attendance numbers and a lack of funding forced the Lake Tahoe Music Festival to shut its doors.

“A lot of people shared concerns about the lack of a music festival,” said Marcelyn Cohune, who currently produces the Lake Tahoe Music Festival. “We decided to start small and go back to the original idea focusing on orchestra and classical music.”

Director Timm Rolek held auditions for young musicians across the country and selected 20 talented players to join the Academy Orchestra for five nights of performances. The chosen artists come from a variety of backgrounds including Ivo Bokulić, who is an active freelance musician in the Bay Area and beyond, performing with groups such as the San José Chamber Orchestra, Reno Philharmonic, Merced Symphony, Music in the Mountains, Stanford Philharmonic, Opera Parallèle and One Found Sound. Violinist Emily Botel studied at the Cleveland Institute of Music and the San Francisco Conservatory of Music. Botel is a founding member of the unconducted chamber orchestra, One Found Sound, and the baroque ensemble, MUSA, and David Ross, the principal flutist of New Vintage Baroque, a period-instrument chamber ensemble in NYC that commissions new works for its concerts.

Musicians spend the week at Granlibakken and work with specially chosen soloists in Tahoe to perform. This year, Micheal Sutton, a violinist who has been a member of the Minnesota Orchestra for 18 years, takes the honors. Five performances take place throughout the week at several scenic venues.

“We choose venues that have been popular in the past,” said Cohune. “We want venues that blend nature with the music.” Sugar Pine Point State Park has always been a popular setting for the Lake Tahoe Music Festival and continued to be one of the venues on July 23.

For the last three nights of the festival, bring a picnic and relax on the lawn at the West Shore cafe on July 24 for an evening with soloist Sutton and the Academy Orchestra or head to Schaffer’s Mill Club on July 25 for dinner and wine while being serenaded by the orchestra at the 2014 HGTV Dream Home. The final show takes place on July 26 at Skylandia Beach, a new venue for the Lake Tahoe Music Festival. Enjoy the sunset over the lake while listening to the music of Strauss, d’Indy, Roussel and Schoenberg.

“The festival needs the support of the community to continue,” Cohune said. Currently, festival planners work on a year-to-year basis to see if there is an interest. “Last year’s event was successful and well attended,” she said.


Picnics are welcome, and guests may bring low back chairs or blankets for seating. Tickets will be available at the gate while supplies last for cash or check only. For more information, visit To purchase tickets, visit


July 24 | 6:30 p.m.; gates open at 5 p.m.
$20 | Free 12 and younger
West Shore | Homewood, Calif.

July 25 | 6:30 p.m.; gates open at 5 p.m.
$50 includes dinner and wine
Schaffer’s Mill Golf and Lake Club | Truckee, Calif.

July 26 | 6:30 p.m.; gates open at 5 p.m.
$20 | Free 12 and younger
Skylandia Park | Tahoe City, Calif