Dr. Selmer Spitzer conducts the Southern Nevada Symphony Orchestra at the CasaBlanca Showroom during a concert on April 8. Photo by Linda Faas.

Southern Nevada Symphony Orchestra performed its season finale April 8 at the CasaBlanca Showroom, Mesquite. Setting a smart pace with “Overtures and More,” by favorite composers from several musical periods, Conductor Selmer Spitzer led his musicians through a program dotted with popular overtures and marches. That combination pleased his audience as they listened and smiled to triumphant movements from the likes of “1812 Overture,” and “Star Wars.”

Principal cellist Lila Williams. Photo by Linda Faas.

William Rhoden acted as concertmaster for this performance, a role that he alternates with Walter White. Both men are outstanding musicians and instructors. Rhoden is director of Mesquite’s Hughes Middle School orchestra and guitar classes, working with about 190 students. White is a music faculty member of Clark County School District, sharing his vast professional experience with his Moapa Valley students.

Overtures, generally written as introductions to plays, operas, and other extended works, are a favorite musical genre.  The evening’s musical selections were composed by greats on the world stage of music. Two overtures by Johannes Brahms, the “Tragic Overture,” and the Academic Festival Overture,” were written to express the range of emotion he brought to his Romantic Era music.

The “Rosamunde Overture,” by Franz Schubert, is one of the finest pieces written by the prolific composer who died at age 31, leaving behind a massive body of works that was later discovered by musicians and listeners who cherish his contribution to music heritage.

Violinist and former Ms. Senior Mesquite Jean Hardman performs with the Southern Nevada Symphony Orchestra during a recent concert held at the CasaBlanca Showroom. Photo by Linda Faas.

Among the glorious selections of the evening, perhaps no composers’ works are more recognizable than that of Mozart and Beethoven. Spitzer chose Mozart’s “Symphony No 36, The Linz” to include in the evening’s repertoire. The melodic beauty of Mozart’s symphonies sets him apart. In this symphony, written in a span of only 4 days during a visit to the city of Linz, Austria, Mozart’s mastery of musical magic can be heard and relished. Mozart, a contemporary of the American Revolution, lived in imperial Austria where music was often commissioned by and for nobility, but is now revered worldwide.

Beethoven’s 1809 “Egmont Overture” interjected tremendous drama into the evening. It was written as an opening to a revival of Goethe’s story of Count Egmont, an early martyred hero of Netherland’s independence from Spain. Beethoven’s overture, amplifying the themes of liberty and personal heroism, was used in a modern day tribute to the 11 athletes killed by terrorists at the 1972 Olympics.

Dr. Selmer Spitzer greets a concertgoer at a previous performance by the Southern Nevada Symphony Orchestra. Photo by Linda Faas.

SNSO, in addition to providing wonderful entertainment for its audiences, is an educating force for the community. Conductor Spitzer understands that orchestral success depends on engagement of his listeners.   He has provided outstanding assistance in that regard by featuring Jim Dick as narrator for each concert. The men were both faculty members at the University of Jamestown, ND, before moving to Southern Nevada. Before each piece is played, Dick gives concise biographical notes about the composer and musical work that will follow. These brief introductions are to be applauded, along with the virtuoso of each member of SNSO and Conductor Spitzer. Bravo! We look forward to your next season. For more information about Southern Nevada Symphony Orchestra, please see www.snsymphony.com.