Classical celebration with SummerFest

By Jenn Sheridan  ·



The Lake Tahoe SummerFest returns to the Sierra Nevada College Campus bringing talented musicians from the world’s stages to the Tahoe Basin and beyond for a nine-day celebration of the diversity of classical music starting on Aug. 1.

Founded in 2011, Lake Tahoe SummerFest comes from the vision of Madylon Meiling, Ph.D, who dreamed of bringing a major music festival to the area and creating an opportunity for people in the region to experience classical music and visual and performing arts.

“She believed it could become a destination for arts and culture for people all over the world,” said artistic director and conductor Joel Revzen, who has worked with the festival since the beginning.

Revzen brings a wealth of experience his background as artistic director and conductor with the Berkshire Opera and the Arizona Opera, assistant conductor of the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra and faculty member of the Aspen Music Festival. He also has recorded pieces with the London Chamber Orchestra, and was the pianist and conductor on the Grammy-award winning “The Art of Arleen Auger.”

“When I put the program together, I try to create a balanced meal, so there’s something for everyone,” said Revzen.

The festival program is built to include a diverse sampling of music along with interactive events where the audience is able to experience music in a more intimate setting and learn about music and culture from around the world. In addition, two children’s concerts are focused on engaging children and fostering an appreciation of classical music at a young age.


The opening weekend celebrates the sounds of tenor Matthew Polenzani with Erik Ralske on the horn. The program includes pieces that highlight the talents of each soloist including a “Serenade for Tenor, Horn and Strings” by the prominent 20th-century British composer Benjamin Britten and set to the lyrics of poetry from renowned writers through the ages. As well, Polenzani will perform “Nessun dorma” from the opera “Turandot.”

The weekend of Aug. 8 brings pianist Simone Dinnerstein to the stage. Dinnerstein’s recordings of J.S. Bach’s “Goldberg Variations” landed the No. 1 spot on Billboard classical music charts in 2007. Hear Dinnerstein in Beethoven’s “Piano Concerto No. 2” and “Concerto in D Minor” from Bach. Additionally, enjoy Mendelssohn’s Symphony No. 3 “Scottish” and hear “Pavane on Strings” by Gabriel Faure.

The third week brings a contemporary piece called “Speaking in Drums,” which features Aaron McDonald on the timpani and gives audiences a taste of what can be accomplished with the drum. As well, the principal cellist of the festival, Peter Wyrick, is featured in Joseph Haydn’s “Cello Concerto No. 1.” “Duett-Concertino” by Richard Strauss features Daniel Gilbert on clarinet and Whitney Crockett on bassoon.

“What makes Lake Tahoe SummerFest very different from most festivals is we’re a 500-seat tent, so it is one of the most intimate experiences they will have hearing a full 40-piece symphony orchestra. I think it’s a unique experience to get up close and personal with classical music,” Revzen said.

Those seeking an opportunity for an even more intimate experience will enjoy Sunday evenings Meet the Music\Meet the Musician featuring music and foods inspired by specific locations. Enjoy smaller ensembles with the opportunity to meet and converse with musicians.

On Aug. 3, the festival presents “Vienna, City of Dreams” with the music of Mozart, Schubert and Brahms. Following the show is coffee and treats inspired by cuisine from Vienna, Austria. “I Love Paris” celebrates the culture of Paris on Aug. 10 with the music of Ravel, Debussy and Fauré. The final weekend is a “Salute to London” with music from Britten, Elgar and Haydn.


Children’s concerts

Children will be delighted during the Sunday Children’s Concerts on Aug. 10 and 17. The program is designed to engage children by providing an educational introduction to the music before the show followed by a “What did you Hear?” question and answer session. An ice cream social follows each program with an opportunity for children to meet the musicians.

On Aug. 10, the Young Musicians Choral Orchestra of Berkeley will present musical selections from its jazz and choral ensembles. The group includes students ages 10 to 18 years with gifted musical abilities who are not able to afford specialized musical training outside of the program.

On Aug. 17, the SummerFest musicians will present Benjamin Britten’s “Phantasy Oboe Quartet,” which takes listeners on a musical exploration of a fresh, summer morning. Following this is a narrated adventure with Babar the Elephant.

“To be able to make music for a living is one of the greatest privileges. Especially with spectacular musicians who are not only so talents but share with an open heart,” said Revzen.

Over the past three years the event has been popular with four of six concerts selling out last season.


To experience this unique event, purchase tickets at


Friday, Aug. 1 | 7 p.m.
$25-$75 | 16 and younger $12.50-$37.50

Saturday, Aug. 2 | 7 p.m.
$25-$75 | 16 and younger $12.50-$37.50

Sunday, Aug. 3 | 4 p.m.
$25-$75 | 16 and younger $12.50-$37.50

Thursday, Aug. 7
5 p.m. | SummerFest Gala
$250-$500 per person

Friday, Aug. 8| 7 p.m.
$25-$75 | 16 and younger $12.50-$37.50

Saturday, Aug. 9 | 7 p.m.
$25-$75 | 16 and younger $12.50-$37.50

Sunday Aug. 10
11 a.m. | Children’s Concert | Free

4 p.m. | Meet the Music/Meet the Musicians
$25-$75 | 16 and younger $12.50-$37.50

Friday Aug. 15 7 p.m.
$25-$75 | 16 and younger $12.50-$37.50

Saturday Aug. 16 | 7 p.m.
$25-$75 | 16 and younger $12.50-$37.50

Sunday, Aug. 17
11 a.m. | Children’s Concert | Free

4 p.m. | Meet the Music/Meet the Musicians
$25-$75 | 16 and younger $12.50-$37.50