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Las Vegas Philharmonic’s Cabrera writes of his greatest hits

When he was a senior at Reed High in Reno, Donato Cabrera began working at the CD store.

That’s what the place was called — The CD Store. It was one of the first music stores in the country to sell just CDs. Cabrera worked there for about seven years beginning in 1988.

“The CD Store really exposed me to the world of music,” says Cabrera, music director for the Las Vegas Philharmonic. “It was because of the customers, we have all these avid music listeners come in and tell me about their favorite record, their blues or jazz albums, classical records, and they really opened up the world of music for me.”

Cabrera is drawing on his wide tastes and music education to write an ongoing blog at medium.com/donatocabrera as the Philharmonic is silent during the coronavirus outbreak. Titled “The Music Plays On,” Cabrera writes of some of his favorite selections and posts YouTube clips of the recordings or performances.

Cabrera, who took over the Philharmonic in 2014, started the series March 14 and is writing daily (that’s crazy!) until he again wield the baton.

Cabrera’s selections are characteristically diverse, dating to his time selling CDs. He’s delved into the music of Kurt Weill, Gregorio Allegri’s “Miserere,” John Coltrane and Johnny Hartman, and Beethoven Piano Sonata No. 30.

“I wanted to show people different types of music while still using my brain until I can be back with the symphony,” Cabrera says. “I’m loving it because I love music.”

Cabrera remembers one “beautiful Sunday afternoon” when a Chevy Suburban pulled up to The CD Store. Out walked Jimmy Page of Led Zeppelin, and Whitesnake front man David Coverdale. The two were close friends and neighbors in Lake Tahoe. They also teamed on the album “Coverdale-Page.”

“I couldn’t believe it, but they both loved all kinds of music and started buying everything,” Cabrera says. “Coverdale really knew classical music. He was very well educated. He also bought out a bunch of Rhino Records CDs, he bought everything we had of a great blues artist, Clarence ‘Gatemouth’ Brown. He was so excited we had him in stock.”

The two rockers walked into the store just after Led Zeppelin’s famous four-CD, greatest-hits compilation was released.

“I had a box sitting there, and here was Jimmy Page in my store, and I didn’t think to have him sign it!” Cabrera says, laughing. “I was so stupid!”

Not really. It’ll make a great blog.

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 Twitter, @JohnnyKats1 on Instagram.

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