WANDERLUST celebrates the perfect life. Photo courtesy Wanderlust Festival


California rambling: Mountain music

By From page A4 | March 31, 2014

The hills are alive with the sound of music, at least in the Sierra Nevada. 

Several music festivals will bring bluegrass, Beethoven and Lady Gaga to our hills.  Beginning on Saturday, Sierra at Tahoe in Twin Bridges “celebrates spring in the Sierra,” during the ski area’s second Equinox Spring Festival.  Sierra spokesman Steven Hemphill  said the festival brings skiers and boarders to the resort’s new Plaza for “snow, sunshine and good times.”

Equinox Spring Festival performances overlap two events: Sierra-at-Tahoe’s 11th Telegrass event, a combination of telemark clinics, demos and bluegrass music, and its eighth Buckle Up Big Air slopestyle competition, which promotes seatbelt safety awareness in remembrance of Sierra Team rider Greg Taylor Smith.

On Saturday at 2 p.m., Hot Buttered Rum and The Creak will perform bluegrass music during Telegrass and the following Saturday afternoon ( April 12), Midi Matilda, a pop alternative band that has appeared at San Francisco’s Outside Lands and SXSW festivals, will be joined by Tracorum in high energy performances at Buckle Up Big Air.  There is no admission or cover to attend these performances.

Lake Tahoe is known for attracting headliners.  The Lake Tahoe Outdoor Arena at Harvey’s South Lake Tahoe will feature the biggest names to perform in the mountains, this year.  Vocalist Sarah McLaughlin leads Harvey’s 2014 Summer Concert Series on June 24, with performances by Carrie Underwood (July 18), the Zac Brown Band (July 20 – sold out), Journey and the Steve Miller Band (July 30), Lady Gaga (Aug. 2) and Boston and the Doobie Brothers (Aug. 3) filling out Harrah’s and Harvey’s impressive lineup. Go to for tickets.

Lady Gaga may be a headliner, but no composer’s work has been performed more than Ludwig Von Beethoven’s.  His 4th symphony, Britten’s rarely heard Serenade for Tenor, Horn and Strings, Mozart’s 40th and additional works by Bach, Strauss, Mendelssohn and Stravinsky are among the masterpieces to be performed at the Lake Tahoe Summerfest on the first three weekends of August.

In only its third season, Lake Tahoe Summerfest has become the Sierra Nevada’s most renowned classical music festival.  This summer, full symphonic orchestras will perform on Friday and Saturday evenings, with a new chamber music series, “Meet the Music,” occurring on Sunday afternoons.

Summerfest’s 40-member orchestra is composed of musicians who perform with the Metropolitan Opera, Los Angeles Philharmonic and the San Francisco, Seattle and Vancouver symphonies.  Conductor Joel Revzen leads the orchestra.  He has conducted and recorded with such companies as the London Symphony, the Mariinsky Orchestra (formerly the Kirov), Scottish Chamber Orchestra and the Moscow Symphony and is in his ninth season on the conducting staff of the Metropolitan Opera in New York.

Unlike concert halls where the musicians are at a distance, Lake Tahoe Summerfest connects the audience to the musicians through opportunities to meet with musicians following the concert, explains the festival’s executive director, Georgette Porter. “It’s a time to interact with the musicians and discuss what was performed.”

Porter says Summerfest’s unique approach to involving the audience will culminate at the Sunday afternoon, chamber music performances, each of which will be themed around a city.  On Aug. 3, Vienna, City of Musical Delight is the theme, with Mozart, Schubert and Brahams chamber music presented.  I Love Paris happens on Aug. 10, with presentations of Debussy, Ravel and Faure.  While, the final Sunday, Aug. 17, Salutes London with Haydn, Britten and Elgar compositions presented.  Deserts and wines corresponding to each city are served at post concert receptions and “talkbacks.”

Porter said Lake Tahoe Summerfest anticipates expanding its program in coming years, adding educational and children’s concerts, eventually extending the classical music festival to six weeks.  She mused about presenting Peter and the Wolf to children surrounded by an environment where they could imagine being surrounded by forest wildlife.  More is found at

Lake Tahoe’s other classical music festival – scheduled to occur the last week of July – is the Lake Tahoe Music Festival.  This eclectic festival has presented classical, to classical pop, to Broadway, to country music in venues along the west shore. Visit for updates.

The Wanderlust Festival fuses music, yoga and nature at Squaw Valley USA, Jul. 17-20. The yoga-oriented event features a musical mix of urban beats, electronica, hip hop, funk, soul, and dub reggae that is performed for a new age congregation of millennials in search of the perfect life.  Artists include Big Gigantic, RJD2, DJ Krush, Polyphonic Spree, MC Yogi and Hahlo & Medicine for the People.  More is found at

Even Sierra Nevada foothills will be alive with the sounds of music, this year.  In El Dorado Hills, Live on the Boulevard, a summer-long series of mid week, evening concerts featuring tribute bands and local artists, will occur June to Sept. at the Steve Young Amphitheater.  Schedules are posted at

To hear the sounds of music this spring and summer, head to the hills… the Sierra Nevada, that is.

John Poimiroo of El Dorado Hills is a travel writer who specializes in California destinations.

John Poimiroo

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