Desert Chorale salutes military in holiday show

From Norman Rockwell to old movies, celebrating Memorial Day and the unofficial arrival of summer at a community concert long has been a much-loved American notion.

And if that Memorial Day concert should happen to include a few patriotic tunes? Well, so much the better.

On Friday, the Desert Chorale will do its part to keep this American holiday musical tradition intact when it presents its annual Memorial Day Extravaganza at Artemus Ham Concert Hall on the University of Nevada, Las Vegas campus.

The free concert will begin at 7:30 p.m. and include as special guests the Nevada Pops under the direction of founding director Richard McGee.

Nancy Helm, the Desert Chorale's founder and musical director, said the concert will, as always, honor military veterans and active duty members of the military. Also scheduled are a special presentation by a Chorale member whose daughter is serving in Afghanistan and a salute to the armed forces featuring Bonanza High School's ROTC unit.

Musically, the concert will feature patriotic songs and tunes that connote a sense of Americana, from "Stars and Stripes Forever" to movie themes composed by John Williams, Helm said.

Helm noted this year's Memorial Day concert is the 19th in a row that the Chorale has offered to Southern Nevadans. And while the Chorale's annual yuletide concerts may draw larger audiences, its annual Memorial Day presentations have developed a loyal following among audiences who enjoy attending a free, family-friendly summertime kickoff.

"It's great family entertainment," Helm said.

Since its founding in 1984, the all-volunteer, nonprofit, 50- to 60-voice community chorus has traveled to several countries to perform. The ensemble also has performed several times as part of the Temple Square Concert Series in Salt Lake City.

"I have no idea when I put this together that we would survive and go on this long," Helm said.

"I think by now, it has a little niche in the community."

Contact reporter John Przybys at or 702-383-0280.