Conductor brings audience to its feet

The 2006-07 season of the Las Vegas Philharmonic concluded Saturday evening with outstanding music as well as the honoring of Harold Weller, music director and conductor, in his farewell performance.

When he walked onstage, the audience rose to applaud. You felt a sense of pride for the orchestra's accomplishments and its musical status.

A rousing rendition of Richard Wagner's "Overture to Rienzi" opened the concert. The brass was triumphant and the strings stately. Richard Strauss' "Vier Letzte Lieder" followed. Weller led with vigor and elegance.

Marina Shaguch, soprano, has been heard with many major orchestras of Europe and the United States. Unfortunately, she could not always be heard during her first three songs Saturday. By the time she sang "Im Abendrot," her voice occasionally soared with radiant phrases. But only when she performed her encore, Erich Korngold's "Mariettas Lied" from "Die Tod Stadt," were her beautiful tones, easily heard, unrestrained and rich.

In the two instrumental solos, the horn for "September" and the violin interlude in "Beim Schlafengehen" were exceptionally haunting.

"Enigma Variations" concluded the evening. It is the composition that finally secured Edward Elgar's reputation as a composer of international standing. The orchestra conveyed all the nuances of this ingenious composition. The music was refreshingly crisp, the strings sheer beauty, the conducting inspired.

Weller, who helped found the orchestra nine years ago, leaves a legacy and he departed with a cheering audience. The orchestra presented the maestro a crystal bowl with the names of the members engraved on it.

There was also a plaque from Mayor Oscar Goodman with a proclamation honoring his contributions.