The Young Artists of Lake Tahoe Music Festival

Kelly Kasle

Have you ever wondered what it’s like to be a young artist in today’s world? How do you make your way? Where do you look for inspiration and companionship?

Aug. 22 | 6 p.m.
West Shore Café | Homewood

 Aug. 23 | 6 p.m.
Tahoe Maritime Center & Museum | Tahoe City

 Aug. 24 | 6 p.m.
Squaw Valley Chapel | Olympic Valley

 Aug. 25 | 6 p.m.
Skylandia State Park | Tahoe City

For 26 twentysomethings this summer, the answer is Lake Tahoe Music Festival. Since 1983, this nonprofit has produced annual public summer performances in breathtaking venues throughout the region.

Meet four of the talented musicians who will be joining the academy orchestra this year.

Kelly Kasle
27, Plano, Texas

When it came time for Kelly Kasle to choose a musical instrument in the sixth grade, she went with the bassoon. The double-reed woodwind of lower register fit her tall, slender frame and mechanically minded personality.

One year, her high-school orchestra traveled to China for a concert tour.

“I loved that my instrument could take me all over the world, so I decided to see what happens.” says Kasle.

Kasle is now a teacher for the Los Angeles Philharmonic Youth Orchestra and a producer for Grammy-winning Israeli singer Hila Plitmann.

“I love what the academy creates,” she says. “Some of my most magical musical moments ever have been at festivals like this. We get to have intimate experiences in this beautiful lake setting and direct contact with the audience before, during and after the performance.”

Back in L.A., Kasle specializes in putting together close-knit events in the most unlikely of settings.

“That old way of going to an orchestra concert in a hall isn’t connecting with a wide array of audiences anymore,” she says. “It’s experiences like Lake Tahoe Music Festival that take us out of the traditional model. For me, that’s a huge checkbox for fulfilling what I love to do.”

Riley Conley

Riley Conley
23, Edinburgh, Penn.

“The bug kind of hit me once I started lessons in high school,” says trumpet player Riley Conley.

By the time he was performing more complex music by composers such as Gustav Mahler and Hector Berlioz, he was hooked.

“It’s just amazing to sit in the back and be enveloped by the whole sound,” he says. “Once you start playing with better musicians, it becomes a game of encouragement. When everyone around you is doing great stuff, it pushes you to play at a higher level.”

Someday Conley dreams of finding a job playing with the world-renowned orchestras of Cleveland or Philadelphia.

“You’re building friendships along the way and trying to make the best music you can, which is really all you can ask for,” he says.

Jay Julio

Jay Julio Laureta
21, New York, N.Y.

Jay Julio Laureta taught himself to play violin at age 11 from YouTube videos before changing to viola and attending Mannes School of Music on the Upper West Side of Manhattan. He still remembers the moment he first listened to Ludwig van Beethoven’s Symphony No. 5 at the suggestion of an inspiring teacher.

“It was the most amazing piccolo solo that made me fall in love with music,” he says.

Now Laureta is studying at Julliard School and preparing to audition with New York City Ballet, while jamming with 10-piece Italian art pop group Tredici Bacci around the city.

Laureta is glad to be a part of Lake Tahoe Music Festival: “To be in such a high-level orchestra, it’s really an opportunity to step into the professional world by meeting other early career professionals. There’s a camaraderie to it.”

Caitlin Stokes

Caitlin Stokes
27, Las Vegas, Nev.

Caitlin Stokes didn’t always love the violin.

“I hated it for a while,” she says. “I cried when I had to practice.”

It was a high-school teacher named Mary Straub who pushed her to make music her career.

“She was like a second mother to me,” says Stokes. “Within six months of studying with her, I was winning competitions.“

While many aspects of the classical music world can seem coldly competitive, she finds a family-minded community at Lake Tahoe Music Festival.

“We focus on making the most beautiful music we can,” she says. “It’s supportive and relaxed. We make personal connections.”

After completing her doctorate at University of Colorado Boulder, Stokes hopes to one day give back to the arts community that’s motivated her life journey.

“I want to be able to use my voice as an artist to support people that don’t have that opportunity,” she says. “I want musicians to be able to advocate for themselves.” |