INCLINE VILLAGE, Nev. - Madylon Meiling's mettle won't produce Olympic gold in London this month, but it did bring about a gleaming acquirement."This is the dream team," she said after the first rehearsal for SummerFest, which will have nine classical performances during the next three weekends. Maestro Joel Revzen and Concertmaster Laura Hamilton have assembled a 38-piece orchestra from members of the nation's greatest symphonies.A longtime Incline Village philanthropist with an affection for philharmonics, Meiling is building a $2 million budget to present SummerFest for three years with the goal of making it an annual event in a permanent venue.The Jewel of the Sierra, she predicts, will become crowning destination for classical music aficionados."I am committed to the economic development of Lake Tahoe," she said.The whole thing seems surreal to Revzen, the principal conductor of the Arizona Opera."It is a dream," he said. "This orchestra is really a fine a group of musicians as you would find anywhere in the world. ... It's like being given the opportunity to drive a musical Ferrari or maybe a Porsche because this orchestra can turn on a dime."The soloists are world renowned: violist Jamie Laredo, pianist Joseph Kalichstein, mezzo soprano Kate Lindsey and cellist Sharon Robinson. The orchestra includes 17 members of the New York Metropolitan Opera Orchestra and musicians from the Los Angeles Philharmonic and the San Francisco, Seattle, Vancouver and Dallas symphonies.After the first rehearsal Tuesday, Revzen said, "They read the Schubert symphony as if they just played a concert of it last night, and many of them have never played together. But we assembled people who have worked all over the world with the finest orchestras and the finest conductors and so I think the result will show for itself."Some of the players after the session sentiently located the area's finer cuisine. Violinists Joel Pitchon and Kelly Hall-Tompkins talked about SummerFest while dining at Thai Recipe."The group is fantastic, everyone really plays beautifully and Joel has a lot of nice things to help us, but he's also really a gentleman," Pitchon said. "I love that he has a chamber music approach from his leadership standpoint and very inviting way to be the conductor, to have that kind of relationship to the players."Hall-Tompkins is with Columbia Artists Management and has played throughout the world."When people get their musical ideas to come to fruition, music festivals pop up in beautiful and inspiring places," she said. "Joel and all the people in this community that have made this possible have really done a wonderful thing because this is one of the most beautiful and inspiring locations that doesn't have a music festival. It's a great time to pioneer one and there's no better time to get people involved in classical music with so much to offer and it naturally goes with this environment. It's great to be here."From its first day in town, SummerFest opened itself to the community. The Boys & Girls clubs from North Shore and South Shore attended the rehearsal, which was followed by a mini-workshop with the person in charge."Does anybody know what a conductor is?" Revzen asked the children."A conductor drives a choo choo train," answered Michael Haran of Incline Village.Revzen explained their are two types of conductors, and the ones who lead orchestras are like a chefs whose recipes are musical scores."Hopefully the music will cook," he said before arranging a choral performance of "Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star."After the rehearsal and session with the children, a parched Revzen requested water as he spoke to the press. "Most of the time I try to let my conducting gestures speak without words so I don't have to stop the orchestra," he said. "The less the musicians have to put down their instruments to listen to me talk to them, the better their concentration remains."Tahoe's dry climate poses more challenges to the musicians than its elevation."Tuning they will adjust to; the dryness is a little bit of an issue for the double reeds," he said. "We have to make sure the instruments don't crack. ... Breathing is a little bit harder because the air is thinner but again as they are here longer they will acclimatize. Our lungs begin to adjust to it."Opening Aug. 3, SummerFest Fridays will feature an orchestra concert and Saturdays a chamber music concert. Start times for both is 6:30 p.m. Family concerts will be at 3 p.m. Sundays. Set lists, ticket information and more details can be found online at tahoesummerfest.org.The concerts will be presented in a large tent on the Sierra Nevada College campus, in the same area where former President Clinton spoke a few years earlier at an annual environmental summit."I had the pleasure of meeting President and Mrs. Clinton when I was invited to an event at the White House," Revzen said. "From the White House to the white tent."
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