Behind the Stand
Welcome Behind The Stand Members!
Each month, we will post new performance clips, musical topics, interviews and behind-the-scenes content just for you!
Now on Behind The Stand
Explore the wacky ways musicians make music in this month’s “In a Nutshell” topic Extended Techniques. Fall in love with the many musical versions of Romeo and Juliet, and listen to our musicians’ own Las Vegas love stories and solo performances. Plus, behind-the-scenes footage with Music Van!
What’s Coming Up This Spring
- Learn about bowings and how the music is prepared for the orchestra by Las Vegas Philharmonic librarian, Samantha Alterman.
- Watch our musicians provide demonstrations of Extended Techniques.
- Enjoy a stunning performance of Phoenix Rising by principal flute, Christina Castellanos.
- Learn more about our principal harp, Kimberly Glennie in an exclusive interview with Music Director Donato Cabrera.
Extended Techniques “In a Nutshell”
LVP Principal Harp Kimberly Glennie presents the fascinating and wacky ways that musicians are asked to play their instruments in this month’s “In a Nutshell” topic affectionately called, “You want me to what!?”
Watch the following performance videos below to see Extended Techniques in action.
LVP Principal Harp, Kim Glennie plays Traditional Irish Folksong.
LVP Principal Bassoon, Janis McKay plays Sonatina for Bassoon and Piano by Castelnuovo.
Romeo and Juliet
The story of Romeo and Juliet has been the inspiration for countless artistic works. In classical music, three composers took three very different approaches to telling the story through music. Learn more.
Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky (1840–1893)
Romeo and Juliet, Overture-Fantasy (1870–72, 1880)
Excerpt from September 15, 2018 Season Opening Concert
First things first: Romeo and Juliet is a symphonic poem—that is, an orchestral composition inspired by a non-musical source such as a poem, a painting, a novel, the natural world, or in this case, a play. Although it is technically an early Tchaikovsky work, begun in 1869 when the 28-year-old composer was a professor at the Moscow Conservatory, its failed 1870 premiere encouraged Tchaikovsky to give it a thorough reworking; in its 1872 version it was notably more successful. In 1880 Tchaikovsky took it back into the shop, provided it with a new ending, and added that odd “Overture-Fantasy” designation.
Tchaikovsky does not attempt to narrate the story of Romeo and Juliet. Instead he employs materials that suggest the play’s thematic elements. An introductory “hymn” theme—solemn, chordal, with a slight Orthodox tinge— leads to a “vendetta” theme that limns the reactive violence of the Capulets and Montagues. The “sighing” figure is self-explanatory, and there’s no mistaking the great “love” theme that eventually morphs into a transcendent variation as the lovers leave the material world behind.
The orchestration of Romeo and Juliet is worth savoring for its own sake. Note certain Tchaikovskian tropes: crashing cymbals at climaxes, strumming harp at cadences, the choral writing of the wind instruments in the opening “hymn” theme. The structure of the work is also notable; it’s in a loose sonata-allegro form that honors the tripartite division of exposition, development, and recapitulation while departing somewhat from the changes of key that are critical to the classical form typical of Haydn, Mozart, and Beethoven. Tchaikovsky’s practice of elevating the secondary theme to leading-character status—particularly in employing it for the climactic peak of the entire piece—is here exemplified by the “love” theme, which rises to nearly overwhelming grandeur and passion during the recapitulation.
Program Notes by Scott Foglesong
Listen to an excerpt of the Las Vegas Philharmonic playing Tchaikovsky’s Romeo and Juliet; Juliet Overture-Fantasy in 2018.
Leonard Bernstein (1918–1990)
Symphonic Dances from West Side Story (1961)
Bernstein’s theatrical masterpiece West Side Story, with lyrics by a then-unknown Stephen Sondheim and book by Arthur Laurents, opened to solid, if not overwhelming, success at New York’s Winter Garden Theater on September 26, 1957. A dramatic departure from Broadway norms in its threading of Jerome Robbins’s deeply integrated dance routines throughout an urban update of Shakespeare’s tragedy Romeo and Juliet, West Side Story constitutes a sophisticated hybrid of musical and ballet, the whole empowered by Bernstein’s magnificent, and now iconic, score.
In 1961, four years after the Broadway premiere, Bernstein assembled an orchestral suite that follows the show’s plot mostly via its dance routines, including songs such as “Somewhere,” later fused with “I Have a Love” in the tragic Finale. A point of particular interest: Bernstein’s skillful variants of the ecstatic love song “Maria” in both the “Cha-Cha” and the “Meeting Scene” as Tony and Maria discover each other, followed by an up-tempo variation of the same melodic figure as the nervous Jets dance the “Cool” fugue immediately before their climactic rumble with the Sharks.
Program Notes by Scott Foglesong
Leonard Bernstein: Mambo from Symphonic Dances from West Side Story
LVP Principal Clarinet, Cory Tiffin, shares his journey to and with the Las Vegas Philharmonic orchestra.
LVP Bass, Geoff Neuman, explains why he fell in love with Las Vegas.