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Here’s what’s changing with this season’s Philharmonic schedule

There’ll be some changes made for the Las Vegas Philharmonic’s 2015-16 season: new Sunday matinees, a new Spotlight Series and new works reflecting the leadership of music director Donato Cabrera.

It’s the first full season on the podium for Cabrera, who became the Philharmonic’s music director in April 2014 but has conducted only half of this season’s concerts because of prior commitments. (He’ll be on the podium Saturday for the orchestra’s “Symphonic Spectacular” program at The Smith Center’s Reynolds Hall.)

During the Philharmonic’s upcoming 17th season — the orchestra’s fourth in residence at The Smith Center — Cabrera will conduct 15 concerts, featuring everything from Beethoven and Brahms to world premieres.

“We have a very exciting season lined up for you — finally, a reflection of the type of program I like to do,” he told reporters (and Philharmonic supporters) at a Thursday news conference at the Las Vegas Country Club, where Philharmonic officials announced his appointment last year.

The 2015-16 season will “draw a line in the sand,” Cabrera said, signaling to audiences that “you don’t have to go anywhere else to hear great music” performed in “cutting-edge concerts of the highest possible level.”

In planning the season, Cabrera’s goals included “having American living composers as a frequent part of the programming,” along with showcasing “up-and-coming talent,” he said after the news conference.

But Cabrera also focused on “balancing the tried and true” with less familiar music, he added, likening it to a restaurant informing diners, “we know you like the prime rib, but maybe you’ll like this new version of Brussels sprouts.”

Cabrera introduced the 2015-16 lineup alongside Philharmonic president Jeri Crawford, concertmaster De Ann Letourneau and principal oboist Stephen Caplan, chairman of the Philharmonic’s orchestra committee.

Crawford said the Philharmonic would be expanding its annual Youth Concert Series for local students, calling the program the “cornerstone” of orchestra programming. (Last year, more than 16,000 fourth- and fifth-graders attended free Philharmonic concerts at Reynolds Hall.)

Adding five Sunday matinees to the Reynolds Hall schedule also will attract “a brand-new audience,” Cabrera said. “For me,” additional performances represent “the best way for the orchestra to improve.”

The coming Philharmonic season, which eliminates “Masterworks” and “Pops” concert designations, will include an encore at every performance, said Cabrera, who also will host preconcert discussions.

The Tuesday night Spotlight Series, which begins in February at The Smith Center’s intimate Troesh Studio Theater, will showcase Philharmonic players performing chamber works.

The Spotlight concerts will present “repertoire we couldn’t do onstage in Reynolds Hall,” Caplan said. “It’s a really different experience to hear classical music in an intimate setting.”

To Cabrera, the additional performances demonstrate that, “in this day and age, when so many orchestras are struggling, it’s the opposite for us,” he said, citing the orchestra’s “upward trajectory.”

For more stories from Carol Cling go to bestoflasvegas.com. Contact her at ccling@reviewjournal.com and follow @CarolSCling on Twitter.

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