las vegas philharmonic

Checking in on the Las Vegas Philharmonic’s 19th Season

Music director and conductor Donato Cabrera reflects on 2017–2018 and what's in store for the remaining shows.

With only four concerts left on the calendar, the Las Vegas Philharmonic’s 19th season has been a stellar one. Highlights from 2017 include opening night’s Don Juan, and the much loved holiday show, which featured a narration of Peter and the Wolf and a stirring rendition of “O Holy Night” by Clint Holmes.

For music director and conductor Donato Cabrera, the tragic 1 October event was a poignant moment for the orchestra. “Our October concert, which we changed in order to honor the first responders and families of the victims and survivors of the tragedy at Mandalay Bay, was particularly memorable,” he says.

As for what’s remaining in 2018, February’s show, Sounds From Twilight (February 10, 7:30 p.m.), features Las Vegas resident and renowned composer Michael Torke’s Sylvan. The piece is inspired by summers spent in the Adirondacks and comprises three movements—Eastern White Pine, Yellow Birch and Red Spruce—in homage to the three kinds of trees that live vividly in Torke’s memories of this particular time in his life.

Las Vegas Philharmonic

The next part of the program is a performance of Robert Schumann’s only violin concerto by acclaimed violinist Alexi Kenney, who performed the Barber Violin Concerto in the Phil’s 2015–2016 season. Violin Concerto in D Minor was composed in 1853 for violinist Joseph Joachim. Untouched for nearly 80 years after the composer’s death, it reflects a melancholic lyricism that many have attributed to Schumann’s declining mental health. The young Kenney, who won the 2013 Concert Artists Guild Competition at age 19, has been named “a talent to watch” by The New York Times and is the recipient of the 2016 Avery Fisher Career Grant.

Rounding out the evening is one of Beethoven’s most popular symphonies, Symphony No. 7, which premiered in 1813 at a concert to benefit wounded soldiers from the Battle of Hanau. The composer himself stated it was one of his greatest works.

Up next for the Philharmonic? The annual Gala Concert (March 3, 8 p.m.), featuring the always entertaining Pink Martini, a global, multilingual sensation that’s part musical spectacle, part samba parade, part dance-hall throwback and part jazz club. It should be an unforgettable rollicking show complemented by a separately ticketed cocktail reception, a silent auction, an elegant dinner and a live auction.

The season concludes with two more concerts, allowing some time for Cabrera and company to plan the 2018–2019 season. “The process of programming a season takes many months and is quite complicated,” he says. “There are many factors that are taken into account for each concert, as well as each season. Let’s just say that programming a season, which is also part of a larger story, is similar to that of creating an ever-evolving menu for a great restaurant.”

As for what the next season will bring—the big 2-0 for the Phil—Cabrera is mum. “All I can say now is that we have big plans for our 20th anniversary season. Stay tuned!”