Dan Uhrich, Las Vegas musician and a master of the tuba, died after collapsing before the Nevada Pops concert Saturday night at the Star Trek convention inside the Rio. He was 42.
Uhrich tumbled to the stage as he was taking his chair about 30 minutes before the concert in the Rio convention center. The musician was transported to Sunrise Hospital and Medical Center. He never regained consciousness.
Sunrise Hospital officials refused comment on Uhrich’s condition, in keeping with hospital protocol, but the Nevada Pops announced Uhrich’s passing early Sunday morning on its Twitter feed.
We are so heart-broken that our tuba player Dan Urich, passed away tonight before our Star Trek concert. We dedicated a piece to him and figured he would want the show to go on. RIP Danny.
— Nevada Pops (@nevadapops) August 5, 2018
Nevada Pops founder and conductor Dick McGee and the 50-member Pops orchestra learned of Uhrich’s death after Saturday’s performance, but expected the worst in the frantic minutes after the tuba player collapsed onstage.
“I had my back to Danny, and I heard him just fall over,” said McGee, the music director for Saturday’s show. “I turned around and he was on the stage.”
As McGee described the scene, stagehands, security officers and paramedics administered CPR to Uhrich for about 30 minutes while 1,500 ticket-holders were held at the entrance.
“I didn’t see him take a single breath after he collapsed,” McGee said.
Uhrich had lost more than 100 pounds in recent years and was also battling diabetes.
Along with his mastery of the tuba, Uhrich was also an accomplished trombone player. He was with Nevada Pops for a decade, and also played with the Brass Roots Quintet, the Dynamic Trombone Quartet and Walt Boenig Big Band.
Uhrich was a versatile talent who also played many “casuals,” the trade term for single-night shows behind touring headliners, or private corporate gigs.
“He was the quintessential tuba player,” McGee said. “He was a brilliant musician.”
The orchestra faced a difficult, and quick, decision on whether to perform the “Star Trek”-themed concert after Uhrich was taken from the hotel.
“We gathered everybody, talked about it and decided to go forward,” McGee said. “I know Danny would have been pissed if we hadn’t. We dedicated the show to him, even not quite knowing what had happened. It was therapeutic for us to perform.”
McGee dedicated the theme from “Star Trek: First Contact” to Uhrich.
“It’s my favorite Jerry Goldsmith piece,” McGee said of the famous film and TV composer. “It’s very moving, very melodic. I wasn’t sure if I was even going to mention Danny from the stage, but it felt right to do it.”
McGee has conducted and performed as a trombonist himself for 37 years in Las Vegas. After the show, McGee and some of the Nevada Pops performers convened in a Rio suite to face their sudden grief.
“This leaves a hole in our lives, and we haven’t had a chance to process this,” McGee said. “We’re just now getting a chance to reflect on him. I still can’t believe it. But it was good for us to perform the show, for Danny and for ourselves. It was never in doubt that we were going to play.”