Classical Tahoe inspires guests with moments that bring chills through classical music in beautiful North Lake Tahoe |

Classical Tahoe inspires guests with moments that bring chills through classical music in beautiful North Lake Tahoe

The new pavillion is a dramatic structure that has been designed to occupy its spot at the Sierra Nevada College through summer.
Courtesy of Scott Sady | Scott Sady

Classical Tahoe 2017 Concert Series

Classical Tahoe is a world-class celebration of the arts that enriches the cultural, educational, and economic vitality of Lake Tahoe.

Classical Tahoe’s world-class musicians will bring gorgeous classical ensembles to North Lake Tahoe’s new pavilion structure from July 28 through August 12.

Where: Classical Tahoe Festival Pavilion | Sierra Nevada College Campus: 999 Tahoe Blvd., Incline Village, NV. 89451

When: July 28 – August 12


One woman’s passion for the arts followed her throughout her life, led her to Reno, Nev., where she got involved with the city arts commission and ultimately inspired her to be a co-founder of the widely-popular, Artown.

Karen Craig helped launch Artown as a way to encourage local artist participation, and to highlight the best performers in Northern Nevada during low cost or free events in Reno.

“A lot of what Artown became for me was a discovery of what’s here,” she said.

“I think that’s the part of my job I love the most — the discovery of what makes you fall in love with a place.” Craig didn’t stop at ARTown, she went on to become the executive director of Classical Tahoe at the beginning of 2016.

“Karen is bringing her same energy and arts innovation to Tahoe as she did to Artown in 1996,” said Dotti Gallagher of RAD Strategies, Inc.

“As executive director, Karen sets the vision for the festival each year and works year-round to enhance the program, outreach and audience experience.”

With knowledge of Artown’s development under her belt, Craig didn’t understand why there was such a lack of classical music venues in North Tahoe.

Craig explained this area as being at the same level as a major metropolitan area in respect to the caliber of musical talent and scenic beauty; which she said rivals locations with the most world-renowned classical music orchestras.

“Great cities have two things in common,” she said. “A relationship to water or nature, and a relationship to the arts, culture, and learning. What makes Classical Tahoe unique is we have some of the finest musicians in the world in this gorgeous environment, and nowhere in the performance space are you more than 13 rows from first-chair musicians; that is unheard of.”

Craig also said that the musicians get a unique opportunity to interact with the audience members, and that they are looking to create a sophisticated, yet comfortable space for guests.

“We can fill the house with $100 seats, but we don’t want to do that,” she said.

“It can be a black-tie event, but it doesn’t have to be. Our new pavilion is set in the forest, you’re walking along woodchips to get to this beautiful concert hall and that’s just so Tahoe. I find that intriguing because I’m so used to walking to a concert hall in a downtown metropolitan area, and walking past all kinds of other smells you can’t describe. Here it’s beautiful, you can wear nice clothes with comfortable shoes, and I just love that.”

In her first year with Classical Tahoe, Craig sees such potential for the North Lake Tahoe area and its display of classical works of art.

“Our greatest vision for the future would be to become an international destination for classical music lovers and I say that with the largest heart, because our musicians are certainly the caliber and have played, and will continue to play at the most famous music festivals in the world,” she said.

The Classical Tahoe orchestra is comprised of 55 musicians, and features violins that date back to the 1700s. Classical Tahoe uses these instruments in teaching programs for students as another music outreach initiative.

At the moment, Craig said she and her team are delighted that such high-level musicians are choosing to come to the Classical Tahoe festival over invitations to others like the festivals hosted in Aspen and Vail, Colo.

They are equally thrilled about the new pavilion in which their talented musicians will perform.

“We have so few choices at the lake for a concert hall,” Craig said.

“Casinos and ballrooms are terrible for acoustics, and it’s awful for playing music. To be able to upgrade our pavilion makes it just the most unique place in the world. It’s a temporary summer structure, which has been acoustically designed, and is the most dramatic piece of sculpture that we could imagine going up at Lake Tahoe — it’s our version of the Sydney Opera House.”

The new pavilion is the first performing arts venue in the Reno-Tahoe region since 2007, and is hailed as a game-changer for the classical music scene in the region.

The concert-hall quality pavilion will be a gathering place for music lovers, and home to Classical Tahoe’s 2017 concert series featuring nine concerts and three weeks of world-renowned musicians performing familiar, beloved music from jazz to classical opera.

“Our goal is to create more exchange between people, more excitement, inspirational moments for them when they come to the Sierra, but not necessarily for a bike ride or to waterski,” Craig said.

“Everyone is here for their own exhale and inhale; and we certainly provide that in the evenings where you can hear a concert under the pines – we’re giving people that goose bump moment.”

Cassandra Walker is a features and entertainment reporter for the Sierra Sun. She can be reached at, 530-550-2654 or @snow1cass.

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