With everlasting gratitude, Maestro Joel Revzen is remembered for his numerous artistic accomplishments and the deep, personal relationships he forged with the Classical Tahoe community. He was a steward of the arts, a mentor, and a friend. Maestro Revzen’s relationships with lauded musicians and world-renowned soloists, who by his invitation, performed at Classical Tahoe, ensured the young festival’s reputation for excellent programming and performance. Maestro Revzen’s position as Artistic Director and Principal Conductor was held from the festival’s inaugural season in 2012 until his death on May 25, 2020, from complications related to COVID-19. He was 74.
Madylon Meiling, Classical Tahoe founder, said, “Maestro Joel Revzen made extraordinary music and transformed the lives of all touched by his musical gifts and charismatic personality.”
Each summer, musicians from around the world arrived in Incline Village for their positions with the Classical Tahoe Orchestra. Together with the Classical Tahoe board and staff, a welcome led by Joel and his wife Cindy Rhys, Classical Tahoe’s Program Annotator, and their dog Zander set the tone for summers of camaraderie, collaboration, and craftsmanship.
In the Classical Tahoe Pavilion, Maestro Revzen commanded with a graceful accent. His programming was challenging. “Challenges were a specialty of his,” recalls Cindy. “He never met one that he didn’t love to put his hand to. He truly had the heart of an adventurer. A heart with boundless kindness and generosity, ready to take anyone on that adventure with him. He made music from the heart, and he led from his heart.”
In between rehearsals, Joel, as he was best known outside of his performance attire, could be found chatting with subscribers, thanking volunteer student ushers, and taking lunch with musicians in the courtyard. Invitations for dinners with Joel and Cindy came long before the summer began. Joel liked to rent a convertible for the summer and found time to spend on the lake on friends’ boats.
Classical Tahoe Co-Chair Marna Broida said, “Joel brought more than his artistic genius and charisma to our community. He also brought connection. Connection to the arts. Connection to music and to the musicians. Connection to each other. Joel and his beloved wife, Cindy, transformed classical music from something that would appeal only to the elite into something accessible to all of us.”
In addition to his position with Classical Tahoe Festival & Music Institute, Revzen was on the Metropolitan Opera conducting staff since 1999. In April 2017, Revzen made his Metropolitan Opera conducting debut with two performances of Eugene Onegin starring Anna Netrebko and Peter Mattei.
Maestro Revzen had a 2020 guest conductor position with Festival Napa Valley. In 2018 he was appointed music director of the Mayshad Music Festival in Marrakech Morocco. An award-winning conductor, Maestro Revzen led symphony and opera performances throughout North America and Europe.
Karen Craig, Classical Tahoe executive director, said, “We have been blessed to have a front-row seat to know this beautifully talented, authentic, kind, and exceptional man. It is my honor to continue working toward Joel’s vision of creating a world-class celebration of the arts that enriches the cultural, educational, and community vitality of Lake Tahoe. Bravo Maestro.”
In honor of his vision, The Joel Revzen Legacy Fund will serve the mission of Classical Tahoe. To donate, visit classicaltahoe.org, then click on “donate here.”
~ Classical Tahoe