Las Vegas Philharmonic presents 2 holiday concerts Saturday

Saturday, 02 December 2017, 03:47:45 AM. This being Las Vegas, doubling down is hardly a new concept.

This being Las Vegas, doubling down is hardly a new concept.

Except at The Smith Center, where the Las Vegas Philharmonic performs not one but two separate concerts Saturday.

The family-friendly matinee, dubbed “Home for the Holidays,” promises a more traditional musical menu, from local favorite Clint Holmes narrating Prokofiev’s musical tale “Peter and the Wolf” to a singalong finale featuring favorite holiday tunes.

Speaking of singing, Saturday evening’s “A Baroque Christmas” teams the orchestra with its resident vocal ensemble, the Las Vegas Master Singers, for Part I of Handel’s oratorio “The Messiah.”

And, speaking of singalongs, Saturday’s “Messiah” will conclude with an everybody-join-in rendition of the beloved “Hallelujah” chorus, which concludes Part II — the section generally performed at Easter.

It’s a “British tradition,” one in which “everybody stands up,” says Donato Cabrera, the Philharmonic’s music director, expressing hope that Saturday night’s audience will include “a few Anglophiles.”

The “Messiah” singalong is “new to the Las Vegas Philharmonic audience,” the conductor observes, but “a tradition basically everywhere else.”

The two-concert schedule enables the orchestra to “keep a performance our audience is expecting — and give something new for the other half of the audience,” he explains.

The “more kid-friendly” matinee kicks off with “Sleigh Ride” composer Leroy Anderson’s nostalgic “A Christmas Festival,” followed by selections from Tchaikovsky’s beloved “The Nutcracker.” Following “Peter and the Wolf,” Strauss’ “Radetzky March” will have the audience clapping in time to the music — an audience-participation warm-up for the concluding singalong.

Saturday evening’s “Baroque Christmas” finds the Philharmonic collaborating once again with the Las Vegas Master Singers, the orchestra’s chorus-in-residence, on “The Messiah.”

Handel’s oratorio “can be done as a true Baroque chamber piece or (with) a cast of thousands,” according to Master Singers director David Weiller, who’s also director of choral studies at UNLV.

Saturday’s concert takes the Baroque approach, with “about 20 people in the orchestra” and “about 42 singers,” Weiller notes. “We had special auditions” to determine which chorus members would sing “The Messiah” at Saturday’s concert. (At full strength, the Las Vegas Master Singers have more than 90 members.)

Part I of the oratorio “is the portion people are most familiar with,” Weiller adds, describing it as “very rhythmic” and “quite melodic” as well. The result: “Music that’s really quite accessible.”

Although “The Messiah” is the Saturday evening centerpiece, the program includes other selections from the Baroque period (roughly 1600 to 1750, Weiller explains).

Opening the program: the “Christmas” Concerto by Italian composer, violinist and church musician Francesco Manfredini, followed by Danish-German organist and composer Dieterich Buxtehude’s “Das Neugeborne Kindelein (Newborn Infant Child).” The latter, taken from a collection of sacred poetry circa 1558, celebrates the newborn Jesus and the coming of a new church.

Preceding Handel’s “Messiah” is another “Christmas” Concerto: Arcangelo Corelli’s, which was commissioned by Cardinal Pietro Ottoboni and published posthumously in 1714.

Weiller can’t recall another instance where one orchestra presented not one but two concerts.

“I applaud the Philharmonic for reaching out,” he says, describing the double duty as “more opportunity for listeners to hear a greater variety of music.”

Philharmonic guests to spread more holiday cheer

Although the Las Vegas Philharmonic plays both of its holiday concerts Saturday, there are more chances to hear featured concert participants this season.

Clint Holmes — who’s narrating “Peter and the Wolf” at Saturday afternoon’s “Home for the Holidays” Philharmonic concert — returns to Cabaret Jazz at The Smith Center with his annual “Holmes for the Holidays” show featuring holiday favorites at 7 p.m. Dec. 8 and 2:30 and 6 p.m. Dec. 9. For tickets ($37-$59), click on

And the Las Vegas Master Singers, who’ll perform Part I of Handel’s “The Messiah” with the Philharmonic on Saturday evening, celebrate not only the holiday season but their 25th anniversary with “Rejoice!”

In honor of the anniversary, past conductors Susan Johnson and Jocelyn Jensen will return to the podium to lead the 90-voice choir, directed by David Weiller. Other guests include pianists Jae Ahn-Benton and Barbara Buer and the Harmony Handbells.

The free concert begins at 7:30 p.m. Dec. 15 at Green Valley Presbyterian Church, 1798 Wigwam Parkway, Henderson. More details are available at

Contact Carol Cling at or 702-383-0272. Follow @CarolSCling on Twitter.

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