Children’s mass, medical canine and Vegas jazz

There are few living musical heroes I hope to emulate in my later years. But certainly 86-year-old Douglas Peterson, longtime music director for the Southern Nevada Musical Arts Society, is one of them.

Peterson is as busy and ambitious as ever, especially this Mother’s Day when he leads the 60-voice Musical Arts Chorus, the 30-piece Musical Arts Orchestra and the 60-member Greenspun Junior High Chorus through a performance of Mass of the Children. British composer John Rutter debuted his mass in 2003, two years after the death of his son. It’s an emotionally stirring, surprisingly jubilant work ideal for the occasion.

“This is music for [the] ages,” says Peterson, a retired UNLV music prof who has directed the SNMAS, now in its 49th season, since 1968. “It’s also an unusual piece that brings together children’s and adult voices with an orchestra.”

The non-liturgical music has the kind of mass (pun intended) appeal—soaring melodies, hypnotic rhythms, gorgeous harmonies—that escapes most classical pieces. (The children sing in English while the adults sing in Latin.) No wonder Rutter is popular in choral circles and considered a premier modern composer. Now all Peterson has to do is figure out how to get all those kids on a single stage riser. Soprano Cecilia Lopez and baritone Brian Myer also perform. Don’t miss this event at Artemus W. Ham Concert Hall (3 p.m. May 13, $18, student and senior discounts available, 895-2787).

As I remarked last week, the Cosmopolitan debuts its weekly Boulevard Social Club concert series May 17 at Boulevard Pool with a concert by Philly psyche-rock combo Dr. Dog ($20). The group, whose multi-vocal roots-rock Americana is heavily indebted to The Band, just unveiled a disturbing video for the song “Lonesome.” It depicts the musicians being kidnapped and forced to don black hoods, only to be subjected to water-pistol blasts and talcum-powder torture. Dr. Dog is a group of proven road dogs, so this 9 p.m. show should be spot-on.

Future Boulevard Social Club shows include: k.flay (May 31), Elan Atias (June 21), Terraplane Sun (June 28), Band of Heathens (July 12), Fun. (Aug. 16), the Mad Caps and Dude City (Aug. 30) and Ryan Leslie (Sept. 20).

In other news, the UNLV Jazz Sextet—Otto Ehling (piano), Nate Kimball (trombone), Kevin Early (trumpet), Nick Tulli (saxophone), Austin Pooley (drums) and Nick Schmitt (bass)—recently won first place in the college combo division at the Reno Jazz Festival. (Kimball also won outstanding college trombonist, and Early nabbed outstanding college trumpet performer.) I’m also told the Las Vegas Academy Jazz Band was named “overall best high school instrumental ensemble.” It goes to show: Jazz is alive and well in Vegas. No surprise given our city’s history as a musical entertainment destination.

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Smiling and skankin’ abounded at a daylong, all-ages fest of ska bands. The lineup—including local favorites Tuesday After School, the Spanish-flavored La Banda Skalavera and ska super-legends the Skatalites (with their massively skilled horn section)—made it feel like 1998 and even attracted many out-of-state attendees.