VEGAS VIBE: SURPRISE! Culture Thrives in Vegas
By Marilyn LaRocque
Beyond the flashing neon, “culture” thrives in Las Vegas at the new Smith Center for the Performing Arts, which opened on March 10, 2012 with a black tie gala in the 2050-seat Reynolds Hall. Hosted by Neil Patrick Harris, the SRO star-studded evening featured celebrity entertainers, from legendary Willie Nelson, Merle Haggard, and Marylou Harris to classical violinist Joshua Bell, Broadway headliners, R&B icons, jazz greats, and rock stars.
Since then, Smith Center has showcased the prestigious Cleveland Orchestra, cabaret favorite Michael Feinstein, toe-tapping Steve Martin and the Steep Canyon Rangers, Tony-winning “Wicked,” spectacular trumpeter Chris Botti—as well as a kaleidoscope of music, dance, and theater productions. October launches the inaugural season at the Smith Center’s for its two resident companies, Nevada Ballet Theatre, a cultural phenomenon for over 40 years, and the Las Vegas Philharmonic, celebrating its 14th season. (Photos courtesy of The Smith Center for the Performing Arts.)
Nevada Ballet Theatre — Balanchine’s “Jewels” — October 13-14
Nevada Ballet Theatre debuts with a gem of the ballet repertoire, Balanchine’s Jewels— “Emeralds, Rubies, and Diamonds”—accompanied by members of the Las Vegas Philharmonic. Co-founder and founding choreographer of the New York City Ballet, Balanchine created the work for the company (1967). Each section features music by different composers, in sequence, Gabriel Fauré, Igor Stravinsky, and Tchaikovsky.
Ballet West, Salt Lake City, gleams in “Emeralds”; Nevada Ballet Theatre shines in “Rubies”; Pacific Northwest Ballet, Seattle, dazzles in “Diamonds.” Primary sponsor is, appropriately, Van Cleef and Arpels, which originally inspired the ballet. Performances: Saturday, October 13, 7:30 p.m., and Sunday, October 14, 1 p.m. Tickets: The Smith Center Box Office, 702.749.2000 or online at www.nevadaballet.org.
Other sensational NBT presentations will feature Tchaikovsky’s holiday favorite, The Nutcracker (December 15-23); the acclaimed Joffrey Ballet (January 22-23, 2013) with Le Sacre du Printemps (The Rite of Spring) by Stravinsky/Nijinsky as centerpiece; and New York City Ballet (March 5-6) performing five diverse works each evening. The NBT company caps the season (May 11-12) with Artistic Director/Choreographer James Canfield’s ballet interpretation of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet.
Las Vegas Philharmonic — October 20
The Las Vegas Philharmonic began generating musical fireworks in 1998 when it resurrected an annual Fourth of July outdoor concert under the baton of founding Music Director and Conductor Laureate Harold L. Weller. The 2012-2013 Masterworks and Pops series spotlight guest conductors as the orchestra seeks a new music director.
The October 20 Opening Night Celebration introduces Andrew Grams, former Assistant Conductor of the Cleveland Orchestra, who conducts Beethoven’s “triple” Concerto for Violin, Cello and Piano, featuring Navah Perlman, piano, Philippe Quint, violin, and Zuill Bailey, cello. Rossini’s William Tell Overture and Mussorgsky/Ravel’s Pictures from an Exhibition provide resounding contrast.
Themed “An American Portrait,” the November 17 concert finds Case Scaglione, Assistant Conductor of the New York Philharmonic, presenting American classics: Bernstein’s Symphonic Dances from West Side Story; Ives’ Variations on America; Barber’s Adagio for Strings; and three Copland works—Fanfare for the Common Man, Old American Songs, and his famous Lincoln Portrait, narrated by Zappo’s Founder Tony Hseih. Soprano Linda Lister and tenor Mark Thomsen are soloists.
“Rising Star” Violinist Elena Urioste performs the Sibelius Violin Concerto under the baton of Alastair Willis, Grammy-nominated conductor of the Illinois Symphony Orchestra. The January 12, 2013 concert also includes Ravel’s Bolero and Mozart’s Symphony No. 41, Jupiter.
Pops concerts take off November 3 with “Charlie Chaplin’s City Lights” under Taras Krysa, director of the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, and Henderson Symphony orchestras. “A Very Vegas Holiday” (December 8, 2 p.m. and 8 p.m.) boasts Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn G. Goodman and former mayor Oscar B. Goodman as narrators, vocalists, a jazz quartet, a drumline, and the Las Vegas Master Singers. Robert Bernhardt, Music Director Emeritus of the Chattanooga Symphony Orchestra and Principal Pops Conductor of the Louisville Orchestra directs. Good times roll on February 16 with “Mardi Gras in Las Vegas,” propelled by Steven Jarvi, Music Director of Winter Opera St. Louis and former Associate Conductor with the Kansas City Symphony.
LVPhil concerts begin at 8 p.m., with a 7:15 p.m. “Pre-concert conversation” with the maestro. For tickets: firstname.lastname@example.org, 702.258.5438; or email@example.com, 702.749.2000.