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Acclaimed Las Vegas Philharmonic conductor has Rat Pack ties

Updated February 15, 2024 - 5:04 pm

Las Vegas Philharmonic is turning to an icon with familial ties to Old Blue Eyes as it marks its 25th anniversary.

The Vegas arts institution is turning to internationally revered conductor Leonard Slatkin, as it starts to transition after Donato Cabrera leaves his post as current conductor and music director in May.

Slatkin will serve as the Philharmonic’s artistic consultant though the 2024-‘25 season, company GM Jeri Crawford has announced.

Slatkin is familiar with the city.

“Las Vegas has been one of my go-to places for many years,” Slatkin said. “The opportunities for expanded concert programming, community outreach and educational programs along with the extraordinary live performance environment in Las Vegas unleashes the potential to create something unique in our country.”

Slatkin is the son of the great violinist and conductor Felix Slatkin, who founded the Concert Arts Orchestra and made several appearances with the Hollywood Bowl Symphony Orchestra. The elder Slatkin was Frank Sinatra’s concertmaster and conductor of choice during Sinatra’s Capitol years of the 1950s.

Slatkin has committed to conducting two programs per season, beginning with American classics Nov. 9. The 79-year-old composer, author and conductor is is a six-time Grammy winner, former Music Director Laureate of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra (where he was music director for 12 years), Directeur Musical Honoraire of the Orchestre National de Lyon, and Conductor Laureate of the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra. An artistic force, in short.

“We are beyond thrilled to welcome the artistry and expertise of Leonard Slatkin. This relationship takes the Las Vegas Philharmonic to its next level as we celebrate our 25th anniversary,”Crawford said in a statement.

Cabrera joined the Philharmonic a decade ago. In that span, he has also served as MD of the California Symphony in the Bay Area. The Philharmonic is not in a rush to appoint a new conductor, planning to rotate in different styles throughout the season.

This strategy is something of a prolonged audition, and there might not be a single conductor moving forward. Possibly a rotation of styles, generations, sensibilities. Maybe more pops concerts in the next phase. As Philharmonic Executive Director Alice Sauro says, “This is Las Vegas. Anything is possible.”

John Katsilometes’ column runs daily in the A section. His “PodKats!” podcast can be found at reviewjournal.com/podcasts. Contact him at jkatsilometes@reviewjournal.com. Follow @johnnykats on X, @JohnnyKats1 on Instagram.

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