On July 4th, 1998, the Las Vegas Philharmonic launched its classical music presence in Southern Nevada, bringing a refined new cultural dimension to the city. The presentation of five Masterworks Series concerts and four Pops Series concerts in Reynolds Hall at The Smith Center for the Performing Arts October 2012 through May 2013 will be the orchestra's first full season in the new venue, which opened in March 2012, as its resident orchestra, and connotes another important milestone in the continued growth of the organization.
When Harold Weller, the founding Music Director and Conductor Laureate, and longtime Las Vegas arts supporters Susan and Andrew Tompkins co-founded the Las Vegas Philharmonic in 1998 they made a bold stake for artistic credibility from the very start with a stunning performance of Gustav Mahler's Second "Resurrection" Symphony in May 1999. This endeavor was the result of the determined efforts of a group of civic leaders who were devoted to classical music and believed that Southern Nevada needed, and would support, a resident symphony orchestra offering performances of consistently high quality. The Philharmonic has subsequently attracted a versatile and vibrant group of professional musicians from around the world whose contributions to the burgeoning cultural life of Las Vegas extend well beyond the concert hall. Many of the Philharmonic's musicians are esteemed educators and perform professionally for other productions in the city, bringing a unique depth and variety to the organization. From 2007-2012 the orchestra was led by Music Director David Itkin. The Las Vegas Philharmonic is currently involved in the search for a new Music Director to lead it into its exciting next stage of development and the 2012-13 season will feature an exciting array of accomplished guest conductors.
The Las Vegas Philharmonic continues to entertain growing audiences with its classical Masterworks Series and upbeat Pops Series featuring some of the best touring artists in the world and offering patrons a variety of special events throughout the season. The 2012-13 season programs have been based around the theme 'A Year in Pictures' and will bring numerous multi-media elements to the concert hall, as well as feature internationally guest artists and conductors alongside local personalities.
Involving children and young people in the appreciation of good music has always been a top priority for the organization from its inception. In this respect, the Las Vegas Philharmonic provides informative and entertaining outreach cultural programs that teach and inspire more than 150,000 young people of the Clark County School District. Every year, the Philharmonic conducts a young artists' concerto competition in which winners are selected to perform on stage with the Las Vegas Philharmonic during its January Youth Concert Series that will now be held in Reynolds Hall.
Outside of the concert hall, a variety of Las Vegas venues and events have showcased the Las Vegas Philharmonic's versatility and virtuosity such as: performing for the openings of the high-end Bellagio and Venetian resorts; premiering "Star Wars: The Phantom Menace" with guest conductor John Williams at a private party hosted by 20th Century Fox held at Bally's casino; and playing for two series of musical performances at Fashion Show Mall sponsored by Saks Fifth Avenue.
In addition, the Philharmonic provided background music for the CineVegas International Film Festival screening of the silent classic "Nosferatu." International superstars Sarah Brightman, Placido Domingo and Andrea Bocelli (on his tour in Las Vegas, Phoenix, and Denver) have all performed with the talented orchestra. Other world-renown performers have included Bernadette Peters, Leon Bates, Oliva Gorra, Zheng Zhou and Luana DeVol.
The third largest arts organization in Nevada and a six-time recipient of the Best Performing Arts Group award, the Las Vegas Philharmonic has already had an extraordinary impact on the cultural and educational life of Southern Nevada and looks forward to continued growth and reach.