Growing up in Las Vegas was an occasionally frustrating situation for a kid who was new to the world of classical music. The Las Vegas Philharmonic has an on again/off again relationship with existence, and during most of my youth it was off again. There were occasional performances by local groups, including a B Minor Mass that somehow got messed up about 20 minutes after the chosen intermission, leading to the conductor starting the half over again. There was the Las Vegas Summer Music Festival, which had some really nice performances, but it too struggled to have a pulse. It was a pity, because there were some wickedly talented players in town (there still are, as some of the big Strip shows have reverted back to using live bands).
Every now and again, orchestras on tour would come through Artemus Ham Hall at UNLV (which supposedly had amazing acoustics, although I don’t remember thinking that exactly). But this was Vegas, and there was no way that Danielle Gatti and the Royal Philharmonic doing Mahler 5 would draw a crowd. Ditto Ashkenazy and the DSO Berlin with Shostakovich 10. I mean, I know Sammy Davis Jr. was still alive, but Jesus, you’d think a city of well over a million people could scrape together 2,000 to enjoy some of the finest music by some of the finest performers in the history of the galaxy. Continue reading