How do you end an inaugural symphony season? In the case of the Southern Nevada Symphony you do it with a “pop.”
The all-volunteer symphony ended their 2014-2015 season with a pops performance to a sold-out crowd at the showroom of the Casa Blanca Resort in Mesquite. Under the direction of conductor Dr. Selmer Spitzer, and with the able assistance of concertmasters Walter White and William Rhoden, the symphony played a program ranging from familiar classical pieces to themes from Phantom of the Opera and the movie Star Wars.
A wonderful addition was the short presentation by Jim Dick before each composition. Dick gave a short history of the piece along with a brief biography of the composer.
A highlight of the evening was the Bugler’s Holiday performed by the trumpet trio of Rick Boniface, Jan Sando and Brent Sweet. The three are all members of the Mesquite Community Band and showed their many years of musical talent. The composition, by Leroy Anderson, was written shortly after World War II and used themes from Anderson’s wartime experiences. Anyone who served in the Army quickly recognized the main themes.
The highlight for the entire orchestra was the Bacchanale from the opera Samson and Delilah, written by Camille Saint-Saens. The composition was first performed in 1877, and is based on the biblical story of Sampson and Delilah found in the Old Testament.
Of all the pieces performed by the symphony, this one stood out as the entire group played as one, with very few deviations from perfect. This reviewer could close his eyes and imagine being transported to the concert halls of Los Angeles or Boston. More than anything, the Bacchanale showed the great promise of this volunteer group of unpaid musicians who do it for the joy.
The audience responded with three standing ovations. Mesquite resident Geni Barton, who attended all four of the season’s concerts, said, “The first concert was great, but each one seemed to improve 100 percent.” Roger Smith, of Sun City regretted not attending the first three concerts, “I’ll be back,” he said. “I hadn’t heard of the first concerts but I am sure the word will spread.”
Promotional Committee Chair Clint Bostwick of Mesquite promised more hard work on behalf of all the volunteers after the huge success of the first season. Bostwick noted that “All the members are volunteers and are doing it for the love of music.”
Particular praise must be given to Dr. Spitzer who had the dream of an orchestra in our corner of the desert. With his vision a group ranging from 17 to over 70 has been brought together and made into an impressive musical team.
Perhaps one of the tangential benefits of the concert was the respect shown by the audience for the performers. For once in our area, the curse of “So-Cal Casual” was discarded in favor of sport coats and evening dresses. It was a wonderful sight. Who knows, maybe in three or four more concert seasons we will see men take off their baseball caps when dining at one of our many fine establishments.
The program ended with a rousing John Phillips Sousa march and an encore from Star Wars. Dr. Spitzer concluded by announcing a new season of performances starting in October. The only cloud on the horizon for the Southern Nevada Symphony would appear to be finding venues large enough for all the fans. Our community from Moapa and Overton to St. George owes a great debt to all the performers.