The Legacy of Music by the Lake
Much like today's Music by the Lake, groups and families gathered in and around the Lewis Auditorium at George Williams College and enjoyed live performances throughout the summer. Built in 1890, the building was originally known as the Tabernacle and was later renamed Lewis Auditorium.
The original Music by the Lake series began in 1951 with an appearance by De Paur's Infantry Chorus in Lewis Auditorium. During its 17-year history some of the world's finest artists performed for enthusiastic lake community audiences including violinist Isaac Stern, baritone Robert Merrill, Chad Mitchell Trio with John Denver, trumpeter Doc Severinsen, New York City Opera and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. The popular summer festival was forced to close in 1968 due to escalating costs.
Reviving a Tradition
In 2001, Music by the Lake was revived and the first performance featured Grammy award-winner soprano Sylvia McNair. Gone was the Lewis Auditorium, but in it's place, a pavilion tent which was a gift from the Allyn Foundation, was erected. 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 concertgoers and has continued to rise over the years. Community and university leaders responded with a campaign to build a permanent facility for the growing summer festival. With a leadership gift from the Ferro Family Foundation and contributions from more than 130 other individuals and groups, the new permanent summer venue, The Ferro Pavilion was dedicated in 2008.
Recent world-class seasons on the shores of Geneva Lake continue to create memories of Music by the Lake today just as it did in the early years. Today the outdoor festival features big band, classical, musical theater, family shows, opera and classic rock concerts throughout the summer. Set on beautiful Geneva Lake in Williams Bay, WI, the Ferro Pavilion proves concertgoers an up-close, open-air performance with breathtaking views of the water.