Thirteen years ago on July 4th, 1998, the Las Vegas Philharmonic launched its classical music presence— adding a unique cultural dimension to the city. Since then, a variety of venues and events have showcased the Las Vegas Philharmonic's versatility and virtuosity: 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. These stunning accomplishments are impressive, especially given the orchestra's relatively nascent presence.
Co-founded by Music Director Harold Weller and longtime Las Vegas arts supporters Susan and Andrew Tompkins, the Philharmonic established artistic credibility with a stunning performance of the complex and demanding Gustav Mahler 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 musical performances of consistently high quality. On July 1, 2007, the Philharmonic welcomed new Music Director and Conductor David Itkin.
Itkin's career has taken him to 44 U.S. states and 15 countries in Europe, the Middle East, and Asia, including recent concerts and recordings with the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra, the Slovenska Filhamonija at Cancarjev Dom in Ljubljana, Slovenia. Mr. Itkin's first film score ("Sugar Creek") was recorded in 2006 by the Arkansas Symphony for the film's 2007 release. His most recent major work, "Exodus", an oratorio, was premiered in April 2005 in Little Rock, with William Shatner narrating. "Exodus" was released world-wide on CD in 2007. Itkin's previous positions include serving as Music Director and Principal Conductor of the Lake Forest Symphony Orchestra in Chicago, Music Director and Conductor of the Kingsport Symphony (TN), Music Director of the Birmingham Opera Theatre, and Music Director for the Lucius Woods Festival Concerts in Solon Springs, Wisconsin.
Now in its thirteenth season, the Philharmonic's glorious sounds have soared high above the din of slot machines in Las Vegas, entertaining 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.
Furthermore, involving youth in the appreciation of good music has always been the organization's top priority. From its inception, the Philharmonic has provided informative and entertaining outreach cultural programs that teach and inspire more than 140,000 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 the January Youth Concert Series.
The third largest arts organization in the state and six-time recipient of the Best Performing Arts Group award, the Las Vegas Philharmonic has grown into a nationally recognized orchestra. It has created an extraordinary impact on the cultural and educational life of Southern Nevada with an equal record of sound organizational and fiscal management. The Las Vegas Philharmonic looks forward to performing in the new Reynolds Hall at The Smith Center for the Performing Arts in March 2012.