VVHS Orchestra, under direction of Marie Palmer, played to a full house at the Rising Star Ballroom Tuesday evening.

It was a full house and a full evening of wonderful Italian musical favorites performed by the Virgin Valley High School music students. Tutti Abbondanza!, as they say in the old country. Under the direction of school music instructor Marie Palmer, the orchestra and choir sailed through an impressive program of 22 melodies, many of which are popular favorites.

Their appreciative audience of nearly 200 guests dined on a sumptuous tummy-stuffing Italian pasta buffet. The endless pasta was bookended by individual gourmet antipasti plates and a selection of Italian pastries prepared by the VVHS culinary arts classes under Chef Chris Noone.

For a second year, Palmer’s classes executed a sophisticated performance that was truly enjoyable for all. The students are excited about the public response to their efforts, and they are thrilled to earn their own funds for a field trip to Carson City next spring. Many have never visited their state capitol, nearly 500 miles from Mesquite. But then, most of them have never sung songs in Italian either!  Putting together this lovely performance was a stretch in learning and achievement that most teens only dream of.

Italians have a knack for writing songs that clutch the heart, such as “Time to Say Goodbye,” “The Godfather” and the theme song, “Bella Notte,” which was the love song from “Lady and the Tramp.” Lively dance numbers, “Tarantella (tarantula!)” and “Mambo Italiano,” added zest and the opportunity for some musical “ham and glam” among the musicians.

VVHS Choir members pose for a glam shot after their triumphant Bella Notte performance. Their Culinary Arts classmate (right) got into the shot as she paused while serving a divine cheesecake to
the dinner concert guests.

The Rising Star Ballroom was the perfect venue for this year’s dinner concert. The room allowed more space for a larger audience, and the beautiful décor and glowing chandeliers perfectly fit the mood of the evening. As the guests enjoyed their appetizer plates of prosciutto ham rolls and sweet peppers, they were offered the opportunity to donate to the musician’s travel and equipment fund. Lyle Palmer circulated through the crowd graciously thanking all for helping support the student efforts.

The Rising Star Sports Ranch, as well as the Eureka Community Initiative, provided essential support for the event, along with a long list of community organizations and businesses.  Community fundraising is key to providing topnotch opportunities for our school children.

While local schools are part of the Clark County School District, that funding does not cover “frills.”  Thus, committed and ambitious teachers and school administration are left with filling in the blanks.  For instance, last year when Clark County built a new gym for VVHS, the district didn’t provide the scoreboard and other equipment needed for sports events. The FFA students run fundraising projects throughout the school year to underwrite their participation in state events where they are exceptional competitors. Palmer and her musicians have taken up the task of earning a bus trip to the state museum and state capitol in Carson City, as well as visiting a high school there and collaborating with the musicians in that school to  present a concert.

Thus, the mission of VVHS musicians in presenting “Bella Notte” didn’t end with the final notes of their concert. They gratefully accept continued donations throughout the school year that will fund not only their field trip, but also instrument repair, purchase of new sheet music, and other class supplies that further their musical education. The public can assist by making donations to Virgin Valley High School, notating them for the “music department.” Checks should be written to VVHS, and mailed to the VVHS school banker or Palmer at 820 Valley View Drive, Mesquite NV 89027.