The Legacy of Music by the Lake
As we begin our 12th season of the revived Music by the Lake, we look back on the early years that began the tradition of spectacular lakeside performances. The original Music by the Lake series was held on the George Williams College campus. A 1951 appearance by De Paur's Infantry Chorus in Lewis Auditorium was the inaugural performance.
During the 17-year history, some of the world's finest artists, including violinist Isaac Stern, baritone Robert Merrill, the Chad Mitchell Trio with John Denver, trumpeter Doc Severinsen, the New York City Opera and the Chicago Symphony, performed for enthusiastic lake community audiences. Unfortunately, the popular summer festival was discontinued in 1968 due to escalating costs and lagging support.
Reviving a Tradition
In 2001, Music by the Lake was revived with a performance by soprano Sylvia McNair. She performed in the pavilion tent, a gift from the Allyn Foundation, which stood on the site once occupied by Lewis Auditorium. For a number of years, the Allyn Pavilion showcased artists such as The Irish Tenors, the 5th Dimension, Maureen McGovern and the New Sousa Band. Opera was first offered in 2002 with a young artist performance of Puccini's La Bohème and has become a staple of each year's season since that time.
By the fifth season, average attendance reached more than 6,500 individuals and continued to rise. Community and university leaders responded with a campaign to build a permanent facility for the growing festival. With a leadership gift from the Ferro Family Foundation and contributions from more than 130 other individuals and groups, the new summer venue, The Ferro Pavilion was dedicated in 2008.
Recent world-class seasons on the shores of Geneva Lake continues to create memories of Music by the Lake today just as it did in the early years.