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Summer Music Conference

Summer Music Conference

Registration for the inaugural Summer Music Conference is now open!

Register Here

2023 Dates: July 23-28


Grounded in decades-long traditions of sacred music festivals at held at Zephyr Point, the Summer Music Conference aims to bring all people closer in community through music. The conference provides opportunities for both career and lay musicians to enrich their lives, and the lives of others, through music. The conference will focus on the use of music in both educational and worship settings. The conference prioritizes the inclusive nature of music where all people are welcome to serve and share.

Throughout the week, participants will have the opportunity to join one of three tracks that guides the majority of their activities while at the conference. The conference will culminate on Thursday night with a celebratory, multi-disciplinary performance that celebrates the wide range of musical talent in attendance at the gathering. In addition to your primary ensemble, you will have the chance to select from a variety of enrichment classes focusing on technique, spiritual growth, social justice, or music theory.

Choral Track*

The choral track is geared towards those who love to sing choral music AND music professionals – this is a time to “fill your cup” with music and community. Experience a wide variety of repertoire designed to uplift, inspire, and challenge you. Experience in choral singing is a plus, but not mandatory. Enrichment courses in singing techniques, music in worship, and social justice are available as options to enhance your experience as a participant. Daily sectional rehearsals and full rehearsals with our conference clinicians. The experience includes offering music in evening events as well as the culminating concert for event participants.

Conducting Track*

The conducting track is geared toward conductors in various stages of their careers to enrich their skills as musicians and leaders. Daily workshops in programming, reading seasons, and conducting masterclasses offer more individualized and small group time with the conference clinicians. Additional opportunities to explore your leadership potential through guided discussion and strategizing. The conducting track includes participation in the choral track (as part of the “lab” experience that will be discussed in small group sessions) as well as the possibility of singing in the auditioned, conference chamber choir. Limited spots available.

Handbell Track*

Whether you’re a seasoned pro or a first-time ringer, the handbell track has something for you. Sign up for Intermediate Bells to have the classic Zephyr experience with a double choir and performance in the Grand Concert, or choose the Advanced Ensemble for a more aspirational single-choir experience. Mixed workshops will include techniques and articulations, musicality and rhythm plus a little fun and games. Our Handbells for Everyone enrichment sessions will give singers a change to ring a little between choir rehearsals. At the end of the week, you’ll leave with a sense of pride and knowledge to share with fellow musicians back home.

*With this new collaborative program, Zephyr Point will no longer be hosting the Handbell Conference, Summer Sing, and Tuning @ Tahoe Programs. Instead, the Summer Music Conference allows us to combine the energies of these three conferences into one vibrant, festival-like celebration of the musical arts. Past participants of Zephyr Point music programs are invited to registering for the track that best corresponds to our previous conference offerings:

  • Summer Sing – Choral Track
  • Tuning @ Tahoe – Conductor Track
  • Handbell Conference – Handbell Track

2023 Event Details:

Dates: July 23-28, 2023

Theme: “All Things New”

Featured Guest: André Thomas 

ANDRÉ J. THOMAS is the recently retired Owen F. Sellers Professor of Music, and Director of Choral Activities and Professor of Choral Music Education at Florida State University, and a previous faculty member at the University of Texas, Austin and Yale University. He was most recently named as Associate Artist with the London Symphony Orchestra – ranked fifth of all orchestras in the world.

He is in demand as a choral adjudicator, clinician, and director of Honor/All-State Choirs throughout North America, Europe, Asia, New Zealand, Australia, and Africa. Dr. Thomas has conducted choirs at the state, division, and national conventions of the Music Educators National Conference (MENC) and American Choral Directors Association (ACDA). His international conducting credits are extensive.

Since 1988, he has also served as Artistic Director of the Tallahassee Community Chorus. Thomas has also distinguished himself as a composer/arranger. He has produced two instructional videos “What They See Is What You Get” on choral conducting, with Rodney Eichenberger, and “Body, Mind, Spirit, Voice” on adolescent voices, with Anton Armstrong. His recent book “Way Over in Beulah Lan’. Understanding and Performing the Negro Spiritual” has quickly become a major source in this area of study.

The African Diaspora Sacred Music honored Dr. Thomas as a Living Legend. In 2011, Thomas’ accomplishments in and dedication to the choral arts were recognized by his peers in Chorus America when that organization presented Dr. Thomas with its Distinguished Service Award. In March of 2017, ACDA presented Thomas with its highest honor, the Robert Shaw Award, and in November of 2017, NCCO presented Thomas with its Lifetime Achievement Award.

He is a past president of the Florida ACDA and the past president of the Southern Division of ACDA. He is currently the Vice-President of the National ACDA.

Choral & Conducting Faculty:

Allan Robert Petker

Allan Robert Petker is a composer and arranger with more than 250 published works, including classroom texts on conducting and music literacy. He is the owner of Pavane Publishing, which publishes choral music and college music textbooks. He also serves as the Vice President of Publications for the Fred Bock Publishing Group which includes such distinguished catalogs as Gentry Publications, National Music, the H.T. FitzSimons Company and Hinshaw Music.

As a professional choral and orchestral conductor since 1994, Allan currently leads three large ensembles of auditioned voices: The Consort Chorale from the San Francisco Bay area, the Santa Clarita Master Chorale and the Los Cancioneros Master Chorale from Torrance, California. He has led concert tours to Europe, Eastern Europe, the Baltic region, South America, Portugal and Scotland. Internationally, he has guest conducted choirs in England, Korea and France. He has twice conducted at Carnegie Hall, including the performance of his “Te Deum” for Choir and Orchestra.

Since 1989 Allan has been a coordinator and clinician for two church music conferences at Lake Tahoe, “Summer Sing” and “Tuning @ Tahoe.” He remains active as an instrumentalist, primarily on the viola and violin, but also on mandolin and guitar.

Brett Robison

Dr. Brett Robison has conducted choirs and orchestras for the past twenty-five years. Most recently, Dr. Robison served as the assistant professor of music and director of choirs at Viterbo University in La Crosse, WI. At Viterbo University, Dr. Robison conducted the Concert Choir, 9th Street Singers, and Rose Chorale. He also taught conducting, choral methods, voice lessons, and served as the Artistic Director for the annual “A Viterbo Christmas” concerts. Dr. Robison also served on the faculties of Waldorf University and Upper Iowa University. As a public school music educator for almost ten years, he taught in Iowa, Minnesota, and Arizona. He has also taught general music and choral music to grades K-12.  Dr. Robison continues to be in demand as a clinician and festival conductor for choirs and orchestras throughout the country.

Dr. Robison is the new executive director of the Topeka Symphony Orchestra and has a passion for nonprofit leadership in the arts. Dr. Robison founded the music nonprofit organization, Scottsdale Musical Arts and served as the artistic and executive director. He also directed the youth symphony and adult orchestra programs while also serving as the assistant director of the children’s choirs and professional adult choir, Scottsdale Choral Artists. As a church musician, Dr. Robison has served congregations throughout the Midwest and Southwest as choir director and music director. He is currently the choir director at Trinity Lutheran in Mission, KS.

Dr. Robison’s education includes a Bachelor of Arts in music from Luther College, a Master of Music in conducting from the University of New Mexico, a Master of Business Administration, and a Doctor of Musical Arts in choral conducting from the University of Arizona.  His teachers and mentors include Bruce Chamberlain, Elizabeth Schauer, Bradley Ellingboe, Weston Noble, Timothy Peter, Donald Hamann, and Richard Nace. Dr. Robison lives in Overland Park, KS with his wife, Jennaya, and his three children, Elise, Grace and Benjamin.

Jennaya Robison (Event Dean)

Dr. Jennaya Robison, is in demand as a conductor, clinician, and soprano throughout the United States.  She currently serves as Associate Professor of Music at Luther College (Decorah, Iowa) where she conducts Aurora, Collegiate Chorale, and the Luther College Gospel Choir and teaches courses in conducting and vocal pedagogy. She has also served as part of the conducting faculty for the summer Master of Music program in choral conducting at Simpson College in partnership with CORO. Prior to moving to Iowa, she was the Artistic Director of Scottsdale Musical Arts, a multi-generational organization comprised of a professional orchestra and choir as well as children’s choirs and youth orchestras. She has taught in public schools in Iowa, Minnesota, and Wisconsin. She is also active as a church musician and serves as Director of Music at First Lutheran Church, Decorah, Iowa.

Dr. Robison has presented lectures and workshops at national, regional, and state ACDA conferences and state NATS conferences. Under her leadership, choirs have been invited to participate at state and regional ACDA conferences. She has been an invited conductor and clinician at numerous festivals including All State Choirs in Minnesota, Wisconsin, and North Dakota, Wisconsin Middle Level Honors Choirs, Alabama Collegiate Honor Choirs, Texas Collegiate Women’s Honor Choir, Montreat Music Conference Festival Choir (North Carolina)  and various regional and state honor choirs in Alabama, Colorado, Texas, Nevada, Arizona, Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota, and Wisconsin. She will serve as guest conductor of the Consort Chorale, Bay Area, California in 2020 and make her Carnegie Hall conducting debut in the summer of 2021.

She holds the Doctor of Musical Arts in Choral Conducting from the University of Arizona, the Master of Music in conducting and voice from the University of New Mexico, and the Bachelor of Arts in music from Luther College.  She has held various state and regional leadership roles for the American Choral Directors Association. Her choral series is published with Pavane Music and additional arrangements and compositions are published by Kjos Music and Morningstar Music.

She resides in Decorah, Iowa with her husband Brett and three children, Elise, Grace, and Benjamin.

Handbell Faculty:

Tessique Houston

Tessique joined the Zephyr Point Handbell Conference staff in 2002. Tessique holds a Bachelor of Music in Music Education from the University of Nevada, Reno, where her main instrument was flute. She has been ringing handbells since she fell in love with them during her student teaching in 1995. Tessique currently rings with Sonos Handbell Ensemble and Tapestry Ringers and Singers. She is the Director of Handbell Ministries at Walnut Creek UMC, and teaches at various handbell clinics throughout the area. Tessique taught Elementary General Music (K-6) for ten years, and now works part time as a substitute teacher. She is currently the Events Coordinator for Area 12 of The Handbell Musicians of America and a member of Sigma Alpha Iota International Music Fraternity. In her spare time she enjoys reading, crossword puzzles, and pushing her husband, Brian, off cliffs!

William Kyle

William Bryan Kyle, a handbell ringer and director for more than 25 years is a champion of community handbell ensembles and promoter of handbells in the larger music world.  As a founding member of Velocity Handbell Ensemble, Music Director of both Bay Bells and Bell Appeal, and the first Executive Director of Handbell Ventures, he has focused on innovative presentation as a connection to a broader audience.

As Assistant Music Director at Foothills Congregational Church, UCC he led the handbell program for 13 years and directed the vocal choirs on a regular basis.  He has served as Chair of Area 12, Handbell Musician of America and was their Events Director for six years.

Today, he is the Dean of the Zephyr Point Handbell Conference held on the shores of Lake Tahoe every summer and the Program Director of Campanae Mundi, an impromptu touring festival and ensemble that travels abroad every two years to play concerts where people are not familiar with handbells.

After studying and working for many years in the field of architecture, William is the owner of a wholesale manufacturing and distribution operation specializing in aromatherapy bath and shower products based in Lexington, Kentucky.

Barbara Walsh

Barbara Walsh has been ringing handbells since 1985 and conducting bells since 1986.  She doesn’t remember exactly when she first attended Zephyr’s Handbell Conference, but she remembers sleeping on the bunkbeds beneath Dobbins Hall and the waterfall coming down the chimney in the Lakeside Lodge after a very heavy thunderstorm, so that was a long time ago!  Ever since that first time, Barb knew how special the Zephyr Handbell Conference was and has returned almost every year since then, now as part of the handbell staff.

When not at Zephyr, Barb is still involved with handbells.  She is the artistic director/conductor for the high energy community group, Tintabulations, in Reno and is the Northern Nevada/Eastern Sierra Regional Coordinator for the Handbell Musicians of America.

Summer 2023 Rates

Housing is limited for this year’s conference. Register early to guarantee on-site housing at Zephyr Point!

Room Style Housing Cost Program Fees + Meals Total Cost
Double Occupancy Room $280 $395 $675
Single Occupancy Room $560 $395 $955
Commuter $0 $395 $395
Non-participant/Spouse (Double Occupancy Room required) $280 $195 $475

Includes Program Fees and Room/Board

  • Includes Sunday dinner through Friday breakfast
  • Questions please call the Program office at 775-588-6759 ext. 113
  • Non-refundable/non-transferable deposit due with registration: $100 per adult
  • Registration and Balance due 14 days before the program start date 

The Zephyr Point Summer Music Conference is a proud affiliate conference of the Presbyterian Association of Musicians (PAM). Visit http://www.presbymusic.org for information about the Presbyterian Association of Musicians and join today!