Philharmonic launches season, conductor search

Saturday marks the opening of the Las Vegas Philharmonic’s 2012-13 season, and much has changed since last season.

After 13 years at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas’ Artemus W. Ham Concert Hall, the orchestra is set to begin its first full season at its new home, The Smith Center for the Performing Arts, 361 Symphony Park Ave.

"Ham Hall had its limitations," said Las Vegas Philharmonic president and CEO Jeri Crawford. "It is a totally different experience at The Smith Center."

The orchestra plans to take advantage of the new venue’s projection system to provide large-scale visuals alongside the music, Crawford said.

The arrangements chosen for the nine-show season also will make use of the building’s high-tech acoustics.

"The sounds of each individual section are more easily heard thanks to the great acoustics," said orchestra spokeswoman Jennifer Scott. "The Las Vegas Philharmonic has never shied away from grand works, but in our new location we can really show off our stuff."

The season is scheduled to feature five Masterworks concerts and four Pops concerts.

Big-name local narrators are set to contribute to shows, too. Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh is scheduled to read portions of Abraham Lincoln’s speeches during the performance of "An American Portrait," and the mayors Goodman, Carolyn and Oscar, are slated to recite "A Night Before Christmas" as part of the annual holiday show.

"I’m honored to assist the Las Vegas Philharmonic as it is a key part of the cultural renaissance going on in downtown Las Vegas," said Carolyn Goodman in an email. "The philharmonic’s presence in Southern Nevada is a blessing that all of our residents should take advantage of."

Getting residents to pack the concert hall is a priority for the orchestra in the new venue, Crawford said.

"Tickets are selling well. I think the community has really embraced us," she said. "People are curious about their philharmonic."

One of the messages Scott said the company is trying to get across to the community is that these musicians live in Las Vegas and the orchestra is indeed Las Vegas’ orchestra.

The company is also in the midst of searching for a new conductor after the split with the previous conductor David Itkin. Each concert in the upcoming season is to feature a new guest conductor as part of an "audition" process.

"This gives us a chance to see if the conductor works well with the orchestra and if the orchestra works well with the conductor," Scott said. "It’s almost like dating."

"The search for a music director is a serious undertaking," Crawford said. "We are thrilled with the impressive range of talent and experience that we have secured to lead our season."

For more information, call 702-749-2000 or visit lvphil.com.

Contact Paradise/Downtown View reporter Nolan Lister at nlister@viewnews.com or 702-383-0492.

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