INCLINE VILLAGE, Nev. — The 9th annual Classical Tahoe festival looked a bit differently than usual, but had even more passion behind the music.
PBS Reno partnered with the annual classical musical festival that takes place in Lake Tahoe. Classical Tahoe features a world-renowned, diverse group of classical musicians who play professionally all over the country and world.
Each year, these musicians come together in Lake Tahoe at the Sierra Nevada University Pavilion to bring classical music to the community. However, due to the pandemic and the restrictions on large gatherings, organizers came up with a way to bring the magic of music to people even when it couldn’t be enjoyed in-person.
Joel Revzen, the founder and music director of Classical Tahoe Music Series, passed away from COVID-19 earlier this year.
Many of the musicians and people part of Classical Tahoe referred Revzen as “everybody’s best friend.”
“He was a magnet for the community,” said Laura Hamilton, concertmaster and Classical Tahoe’s interim artistic director and violinist.
Hamilton was the first musician engaged by Maestro Revzen in 2012 for Classical Tahoe.
Hamilton “never had any doubt” that Classical Tahoe needed to continue on to honor Revzen’s deep love and connection to music and commitment to Classical Tahoe.
Virtually overnight, Hamiliton put together the entire 2020 Chamber Series when the Classical Tahoe had to change from a traditional three-week Orchestra Festival to a Chamber Music Series, meaning a smaller group of musicians without a conductor.
“This is really dedicated to the memory of Joel,” she said.
Hamilton said that when Revzen was sick, he kept talking about this summer’s concert.
Revzen passed away on Memorial Day.
“It was such a tragedy, but continuing to bring music to Lake Tahoe fulfills his vision,” she said. “This festival will continue for many years.”
The large outdoor tent that is usually used for Classical Tahoe holds over 55 musicians and about 400 concert goers. To adhere to safety guidelines, it was downsized to a portable outdoor stage of about 10 musicians and 25 social distanced, masked attendees. Before traveling all musicians were tested for COVID-19 and took precautions throughout the concerts.
“We were so happy to have an outlet and opportunity to play together,” Hamilton said. “The pandemic has hit the performing arts industry especially hard. Our livelihood has been tremendously altered and put on hold.”
The sic different concerts were performed on six different nights from patrons’ residential yards in Incline Village. One location was at Maureen and Ron Ashley’s Estate, one concert in their lakefront garden and another in their forest oasis. The second weekend was held at the lakefront of Kern Schumacher’s Estate where Classical Tahoe has been holding a fundraiser every year for the last four years.
PBS Reno recorded and live streamed the performances for those at home.
“Classical Tahoe and PBS Reno came together with imagination and courage to share music’s healing power as widely as possible,” said Karen Craig, Classical Tahoe executive director. “We had to address how to have a meaningful impact on more than just 25 people each night who could attend safely. Partnering with PBS Reno was a total game-changer.”
Classical Tahoe concerts include a world premiere of a new arrangement of a Debussy piece, along with music arranged by well-known composers including Mozart, Schubert, Fauré, Mahler and Bruch.
“It was really a gift,” said Hamilton. “It was healing and joyous to play for an audience of any size.”
“PBS Reno is so pleased to have this partnership with Classical Tahoe,” said Kurt Mische, PBS Reno president and CEO in a press release. “Being able to share these wonderful concerts with people all throughout our service area is a treat for our viewers and reminds us all of the world class music and art created right in our own backyard.”
Classical Tahoe will debut on PBS Reno channel 5.1 starting at 9:30 p.m., Friday, Jan. 1 and will run through Feb. 5. Each hour-long episode airs on Friday evenings and repeats the following Sunday at 4 p.m.
For more information, visit classicaltahoe.org.