With a musical lineup as varied as the stars shining above it, Music by the Lake’s latest season promises yet another summer of fun.
Held on the shore of Geneva Lake, on the campus of Aurora University’s George Williams College (GWC), Music by the Lake has been a cultural staple in Williams Bay, Wis., as far back as the 1950s. Its present revival, which has become a tradition in its own right, now enters its 19th season.
Each summer brings with it a wide mix of performances, and this year doesn’t disappoint. Beginning on June 23 and wrapping up on Aug. 10, Music by the Lake features four Saturday performances and two Sunday performances.
“Our season opener on June 23 celebrates the music of Disney, which will be performed by the Lake Geneva Symphony. Specifically, the symphony will play along with scenes from the 1940 film classic ‘Fantasia,’” says Sarah Russe, vice president for communications at Aurora University. “We’ve partnered with the Lake Geneva Symphony for several years, and I think this will be a great concert for both children and families.”
The Grammy award-winning Oak Ridge Boys make their debut at Music by the Lake on June 29. The band is known for their classic country songs.
Dennis DeYoung, lead vocalist for the late-’70s/early ’80s rock band Styx, is Music by the Lake’s featured performer on July 6. The Chicago native will perform hits from Styx and his solo career.
Celebrating her 50-year career in music, singer-songwriter Judy Collins graces the stage on July 13. Then, it’s time for another dive into music history.
“We featured the music of Swedish rock band ABBA a few years ago, and it was so popular that we are bringing that back on a Sunday afternoon,” Russe says. “The band is called Arrival from Sweden: The Music of ABBA, and they will perform on July 28. We have had repeated requests to bring them back.”
The summer season closes with an Aug. 10 performance by the Chicago Philharmonic featuring the United Kingdom’s top classical tenor, Russell Watson.
Russe describes Watson as a “cross-over opera/pop singer” who has played Royal Albert Hall in London and Carnegie Hall in New York. Watson will perform both Broadway tunes and operatic pieces in his Midwestern debut.
“We always like to have a classical music act, and then we mix in some country, some folk and a bit of rock music,” says Russe. “We started adding country acts about two years ago, and people seem to like that.
Sometimes our lineup is a little bit eclectic, but we have found that most people seem to like music from the ’60s and ’70s.”
Seating is available in four sections: dress circle, orchestra, terrace and lawn. Dress circle and orchestra seating for 600 guests is reserved and located underneath the pavilion, directly in front of the stage.
Terrace seating accommodates 400 guests in physical seats surrounding the pavilion, located in the open air. Further out, the lawn has seating for about 1,000 general admission tickets. Guests typically bring their own blankets and chairs when sitting on the lawn. Boat parking is available for patrons starting at the Virtuoso ($10,000) donor level.
Food and alcohol may be brought in to Music by the Lake, but food is also available for purchase on-site.
Given its estimated $10 million economic impact on Walworth County, Music by the Lake strives to bring popular musical acts to the greater Lake Geneva area, year after year.
“Our goal is to build up the cultural resources of our county so that permanent and seasonal residents don’t have to travel to Madison, Milwaukee or Chicago to see a headlining performer or band,” Russe says. “We truly have a gem of a jewel in Music by the Lake.”
To purchase tickets for the entire series or for single shows, call (262) 245-8501 or visit musicbythelake.com. ❚