Maestro Joel Revzen was an award-winning conductor who lead symphony and opera performances throughout North America and Europe. His active recording career includes two releases with the London Symphony Orchestra, as well as critically acclaimed recordings with the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra, the Moscow Symphony, the Scottish Chamber Orchestra, and the Grammy Award winning The Art of Arleen Auger, on which he was both pianist and conductor.
Revzen was Artistic Director and Principal Conductor of Classical Tahoe, where his leadership brought heralded performances by some of the most sought-after musicians in the classical music world. Recently named Artistic Director of the Mayshad Festival of Morocco, he conducted inaugural concerts there in June of 2018, July performances for Festival Napa Valley, and in August led the 7th season of the Classical Tahoe Festival at Lake Tahoe. On the Metropolitan Opera
On the Metropolitan Opera conducting staff since 1999, in April 2017 Revzen made his MET conducting debut leading two performances of Tchaikovsky's Eugene Onegin starring Anna Netrebko and Peter Mattei. As Guest Conductor, Revzen has appeared all over the world, leading numerous opera and symphonic performances in Europe, Canada, and the United States. At the invitation of Maestro Valery Gergiev and the Mariinsky Theater in Russia, Revzen had conducted many performances, most recently for the prestigious White Nights Festival.
Joel Revzen, 1945 - 2020
"Joel lived a life full of light – he lived in the joy of being alive, and he gave everyone he met some of his special light. Challenges were a specialty of his… he never met one that he didn’t love to put his hand to… he truly had the heart of an adventurer.
A heart with boundless kindness and generosity, ready to take anyone on that adventure with him. He made music from the heart, and he led from his heart. He was a truly dedicated conductor and teacher (tough, but always incredibly supportive).
The lessons he taught us - about music, about life, about being a good human in the world - remain with all the people whose lives he touched. And that’s a lot of lives, and a lot of radiant "change for good" in those of us who were lucky enough to be with him. He was a Transformer who could almost magically change any situation into something magical.
He is missed, but we carry his light with us, always.”
From Music Staff Colleagues
"One of my big regrets is that I did not manage to take the time to go out for dinner and drinks with Joel in this past season, my first with the company. We talked about it more than once, then kept putting it off, hoping to find time in the spring when there would not be as much pressure on the daily schedule. Then, all of sudden, it all stopped. And I learned once more that there is no time like the present in life to do what we would like to, and need to do. Connect.
Joel was an incredibly open-hearted and supportive colleague. He supported the conductors, helping and assisting them without reserve, sharing his experience with the repertoire and the company. Always in service of the music, of the opera. Conducting the rehearsals on his own he protected the colleague’s vision, but brought his own musicality to the table.
Singers, music staff, scenic staff: everybody could count on him. I knew I always could find him in the cafeteria before rehearsals and catch up on the latest news from the rehearsal room.
I dearly miss having him on the team."
Director of Music Administration
"Joel embodied the word "colleague." When I first joined the company, he introduced himself with the kindest smile and was genuinely interested in who I was, where I came from, and who we had in common. Whenever I meet someone new, I will always remember Joel's honest interest in others. May he be remembered as one of the best of us.”
"I have many fond memories of our dear Joel Revzen during our rehearsals and lovely chats in the Met cafeteria. He always offered a warm smile and huge hug. It was such a pleasure sharing those joyful moments. Joel had this great gift of making you happy and making you feel so special. He was a wonderful blessing to us all. May you Rest In Peace my dearest colleague.
Thank you for bringing so much sunshine into our lives!!!”
Loretta Di Franco
"Joel was the finest colleague, coworker and friend anyone could have. His musicianship was exemplary, but he was an even better person. I enjoyed our work together, envied his charm, admired his experience and accomplishments, and was grateful for his perspective. He was someone I always enjoyed seeing, and someone whom I will always miss.”
“Joel had a deep love for music and a genuine commitment to help the conductors he was covering. He was always radiant and joyful.”
"For me Joel has not only been a great colleague and a beautiful, kind soul but a person who gave me my start in America when he took me as a student at the St. Louis Conservatory of Music… I am forever grateful…”
“As all the beautiful, vibrant stories pour in from every corner of Joel's life I will simply add that in all the decades I knew him, not once did I ever see him rush off or scuttle away from one rehearsal to go to the next without taking leave of everyone - and then greeting everyone on his way - in a thoughtful and loving manner.
As both a rusher and a scuttler, I wonder now about his journey to and from these rehearsals. His way is infinitely more interesting and rich - filled with chance meetings of old and new acquaintances. After all, he was never late, so why the rush?
I will miss you Joel.”
“Joel, you were unquestionably one of the friendliest, most positive people I ever had the pleasure to work with. Doing a project with you always ensured hours of cheerful work, deep enjoyment of music, and an inner feeling of being loved and appreciated by you. As you move on to your next journey, please take with you our deep love and appreciation of YOU!”
“I did not know Joel well, and yet he left a lasting impression on me. His kindness and his friendly greetings in the hallways or the cafeteria were infectious and had the ability to turn a grumpy mood into the desire to be like Joel, positive and radiant.
I wished I had had a chance to know him better, I could have learned so much from him. When I think about him, I think of Zauberflöte and Sarastro’s response to the Sprecher saying: “mir bangt es um den Jüngling , er ist Prinz “ ….”Mehr noch, ER IST MENSCH”. The highest compliment for a human being in the German language.”
“The last time I worked with Joel was on a production of "Cosi" right before the Met closed. He was very full of life and enthusiasm and passionate about music and singing . He was so looking forward to many more projects to come.
It's very weird to think about the Met without him. RIP Joel, you will be missed!”
“A gentleman in both senses of the word and an esteemed colleague, Joel’s warmth and outgoing presence will be dearly missed. Rest In Peace my friend.”
"In loving memory of Joel Revzen.
Dear Joel, your kindness and generosity, your sincere interest in the wellbeing of your friends and colleagues, are missed dearly. I cherish your smile and affectionate greeting in Hebrew every morning at the Met cafeteria, always followed by a conversation in which every word radiated with love for life and music. You would have been moved by the words of so many friends and artists who mourn your loss. As you used to say - words that are very well deserved. You touched our hearts with your beautiful soul and we carry your memory with love and affection. Rest In Peace Maestro.
יהי זכרך ברוך "
Nimrod David Pfeffer
“Joel had a generous spirit and a palpable love of life. I had the pleasure of working with him once at the Met, and have enjoyed many a chat since. His work and his presence at the Met will be greatly missed.”
"I met Joel during his first assignment at the MET in 1999, when he stepped up to conduct an orchestra reading of "The Queen of Spades" with almost no notice. Since then, I had the privilege of working with him as concertmaster in four different summer festivals, and our close collaboration and friendship grew hand-in-hand. He was a consummate professional with wide-ranging experience as a pianist, educator, music administrator, and conductor of choral, symphonic, and operatic repertoire. He was humble and extremely supportive to colleagues at every level. When covering an opera for another conductor, he fulfilled his role with utmost diligence, always considering how his input could help the performance. On the podium, Joel’s solid preparation and passion for the music came together to great effect. His long-awaited MET debut, conducting two performances of "Eugene Onegin" in 2017 with a stellar cast, was a career highlight for him. Dedicated though he was to his art, Joel was a “people person” whose warmth and joie de vivre endeared him to friends from every walk of life, all over the world.
He maintained close friendships with many of us in the MET orchestra. We always knew that he was listening to us and appreciated our musical contributions. He will be sorely missed!!!"
Principal Associate Concertmaster (retired)
Metropolitan Opera Orchestra
“The beaming smile that Joel brought into the Met every day almost made one forget his fierce devotion to upholding the integrity of every composer whose scores he encountered - but not quite. His musical principles were always attuned to a practical understanding of all the difficulties that singers face on the stage. When Joel jumped into those two performances of “Eugene Onegin”, I knew before the very first down-beat that the Chorus was in strong hands. There was no way that Joel was going to take an unmusical tempo, throw us a false attack, or leave us wondering how to stay together. He knew the score, and he knew what we needed on the stage. I am thankful for the personal kindness he showed me, and we will always treasure the love that he shared with all of us at the Met.”
Chorus Master at the Metropolitan Opera
“I had the honor of working with Joel all throughout last season. What a joy it was to see him every morning in the rehearsal room - a smile on his face, a greeting of “Sarele!”, and an enormous Joel hug. He spread sunshine, music, and joy wherever he went. His support for his family, friends, and colleagues was limitless. He was loved by all of us in the director’s department and we held him in the highest esteem. My last season with him was a tremendous gift and I feel blessed to have so many wonderful memories. Joel will be treasured in my heart and soul forever.”
on behalf of the Department of Stage Directors
at the Metropolitan Opera
“The Met Chorus Artists will miss Joel’s wonderful presence. We were always greeted with a smile, and an eagerness to share his enthusiasm for great music. We will never forget the joy and light which surrounded him, and illuminated every corner of the opera house”.
Elizabeth Sciblo-George & Marie Te Hapuku
Metropolitan Opera Choristers
"My first meeting with Joel was in the late 90's, when I first hired him at the MET. I vividly remember his enthusiasm, positivity and, of course, subsequent dedication to his work, which remained throughout the coming years. I will miss our occasional breakfast chats in the Met cafeteria - always a bright start to the day! A truly sad loss.”
Former Assistant General Manager of Music Administration
“Joel's death has left me searching for words. They don't come readily because I am so broken-hearted and angry at Mother Nature. He was a sterling colleague, a truly loving and supporting friend, a first class musician and finally, a bright ray of sunshine which lit up every corner of any space he occupied. You are now Boychik #1 for eternity.”
Former Director of Music Administration
“Over the past 20 years I had the great pleasure of working with Joel Revzen on numerous occasions as a cover conductor. Joel always insisted you call him Joel instead of Maestro, the title he deserved. Joel was a superb musician and caring colleague, always inquiring about my family and always offering positive and encouraging feedback. It was a thrill for all of us when he jumped in at the last minute to conduct “Eugene Onegin” in 2017. The joy and effervescence that flowed from his baton to the entire orchestra, chorus and soloists was powerful and a memory we will always hold dear to our hearts. Maestro Joel, you will be greatly missed.”
on behalf of Metropolitan Opera Plan Artists
“Joel Revzen was one of the kindest people I've ever met. His love for his family, colleagues and music-making shined brightly wherever he went with his big smile always leading the way. So many fond memories of Joel's generous, gentle and friendly spirit will continue to inspire me and many others who were lucky enough to know him.”
Manager, Music Administration at the Metropolitan Opera
“I always felt that Joel and I had a simpatico work relationship. His genuine interest in everyone's part in a production, his friendly, smiling manner towards all, and the positive attitude he brought to work made our efforts a joy.
Collaboration with Joel made us all remember why we do what we do. He will be missed.”
on behalf of the Stage Managers at the Metropolitan Opera
“Joel without question was one of the nicest guys I ever met. His positive energy and constant smile was always a welcome sight. He was always gracious and accommodating to the dancers during rehearsals. He always made it a point to stop by my office to say hello whenever he was in the house and I will miss that! RIP Joel!”
on behalf of the Met dance department
“Rest In Peace, dear Joel Revzen. Joel was one of the kindest souls I have ever worked with. He served on the Metropolitan Opera Music Staff as a cover conductor since 1999. You will be missed.”
Jeanette Lerman-Neubauer Music Director at the Metropolitan Opera
“How I will miss your warm, welcoming smile dear Joel. It didn’t matter what time of day that it was, we never knew if you had a worry in the world, you were always more concerned and interested in us and sharing your love of what we do. Your smile exuded your love of life, music and all who you came in contact with. Thank you for the years of commitment to our art, to life and the joy you brought to so many of us. You are sorely missed and will always hold a special place in my heart. Rest in peace.”
Assistant General Manager, Artistic
“Dear Company Members,
With great sadness, I’m writing about the tragic loss of Joel Revzen, beloved and respected member of the Met Music Staff since 1999, who passed away May 25, 2020 from complications relating to Covid-19. Joel had bravely been fighting for his life for more than two months, faithfully watched over by his wife, Cindy, who never gave up hoping for his recovery. At the Met, Joel was a warm and generous influence at all times, contributing significantly to the Met’s artistic process.
While necessarily exacting, Joel’s professional manner was soft spoken, encouraging and compassionate — much admired and appreciated qualities for those of us who worked closely with him in the sometimes combustible atmosphere of intense rehearsals. Elsewhere, Joel pursued his conducting passion, guest conducting orchestras around the world, and serving as Artistic Director of Classical Tahoe since the inauguration of the festival in 2012.
A number of his friends in the Met Orchestra joined him in performances there each summer.
Yannick joins me in expressing our deepest sympathy and condolences to Cindy, his devoted daughter and the rest of Joel’s loving family, and to his adoring colleagues on the Met’s Music Staff, in the Orchestra and Chorus, and throughout our entire company. We shall miss Joel and never forget the sense of optimism that he brought to the Met everyday. As Cindy wrote, “Joel was so honored to call the Met his home.”
From the Metropolitan Opera Administration
From the Metropolitan Opera Company Members