Get To Know Your Festival #5 — Acting Concertmaster Ruth Lenz Brings a Family Musical Heritage to Sunriver

(Graphic | Sunriver Music Festival)

This is the 5th in a series of 44th Season previews of Sunriver Music Festival. Read all stories here:

Can musical talent be inherited? Concertmaster Ruth Lenz makes a case for it. Lenz hails from what has been called Reno’s ‘first family’ of music. Ruth’s parents were early members of the Reno Philharmonic. All her uncles and aunts are musical and many married musicians and had offspring who are musicians. Ruth likes to say, “I started my music lessons in the womb.”

Ruth’s musical journey began at age two when her mother started instructing her on violin and piano. She decided to focus on the violin. When she was just a high school sophomore, she was auditioning for the Reno Philharmonic. “The auditions are anonymous behind a screen, so they didn’t know I was so young,” she says. Lenz was accepted and joined her parents and other relatives in the Reno Philharmonic.

Ruth is currently concertmaster for both the Reno Philharmonic and the Reno Chamber Orchestra. In addition to serving as Acting Concertmaster in the Sunriver Music Festival Orchestra this season, Ruth will also be the featured soloist for the Festival’s Classical Concert II on August 16th at Sunriver Resort’s Besson Commons.

The concertmaster title is bestowed on the lead violinist, who acts as the conductor’s assistant. “The concertmaster is kind of the conductor’s right-hand. It is my job to model a good attitude and be as prepared as possible. It should be fun this summer working with the orchestra because they are really good. I am excited about the opportunity.” 

Her connection with Sunriver Music Festival goes back to her earning her bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of Nevada studying with esteemed violinist Philip Ruder. Ruder is Sunriver Music Festival’s most recent past president of the Board of Trustees and also served as concertmaster at the Festival for many years. Ruth earned her doctorate from the University of Illinois at Champaign/Urbana. 

Ruth has been a violin soloist across the country and at the Nevada Chamber Music Festival. In addition, she has played with such famous artists as Itzhak Perlman, Natalie Cole and Luciano Pavarotti. She also has her own private violin and chamber music studio. 

Ruth adds that one of her most interesting musical adventures was to Morocco in June 2018 as part of the first American orchestra to perform in that country. “We performed in a glass tent and it was magical.”

With all her musical talent, she has other interests too — she is an outstanding equestrian, outdoorsman and mom to two kids.

For this 44th season of the Sunriver Music Festival, the outdoor concert series is conducted by the two finalists for the Festival’s new permanent artistic director. Therefore, Lenz points out that the “Acting Concertmaster” title is normal. “Because the concertmaster is critical to executing the Maestro’s musical vision, the future concertmaster appointment will be determined by the new Artistic Director.”

Four classical concerts, one pops concert, and one solo piano concert will be part of the 44th Festival, August 14-23. Classical Concert I on August 14 will be at the spacious Sunriver SHARC Amphitheatre. All remaining concerts will be at Sunriver Resort’s Besson Commons, the beautiful outdoor venue near the Great Hall. All concerts begin at 6pm and end by 7:30pm. 

For more concert information and tickets go to, call 541-593-9310 or email

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