Las Vegas Philharmonic, “An Evening with Rodgers and Hammerstein”

Performed on March 26, 2011

UNLV’s Artemus W. Ham Hall

Las Vegas Philharmonic
Las Vegas Philharmonic "An Evening with Rodgers and Hammerstein"

The Las Vegas Philharmonic‘s “An Evening with Rodgers and Hammerstein” was a rousing, touching and aurally-inspiring event, full of quality musicianship, talented singing and ideal performances.

The program featured diverse selections from Carousel, The King and I, and The Sound of Music, including instrumentals such as the “The Carousel Waltz” and vocalist solos and duets ranging from love songs to uptempo numbers.

Each guest singer sang with conviction, passion and gorgeous tones.  Their voices caressed the lyrics, and transported the audience to the romance and unique storylines of the classic musicals.  Each singer’s voice soared beautifully above, around and through the music.

In the duets, the voices and music intertwined and blossomed into glorious gardens of harmony.

The Las Vegas Master Singers was a beautifully blended chorus, singing precisely yet with greatly developed feeling.

Music Director and Conductor David Itkin explained the significance of the work of Rodgers and Hammerstein within the context of American musical theater and American culture, which gave deeper appreciation for each piece and its performance and created a personal connection with the audience.

Derrick Davis (baritone), a singer from the cast of Disney’s The Lion King at Mandalay Bay, performed the first solo, backed by the Las Vegas Master Singers.  His deep, resonating vocal quality conveyed both warmth and excitement.

Davis, who recently guested for 3 months as the lead character Mufasa in The Lion King’s national touring show, was overjoyed to perform with the LV Philharmonic.  “Performing with the Las Vegas Philharmonic was literally a dream come true,” says Davis.  “Ever since my childhood trips to Carnegie Hall, I’ve wanted to perform musical theater with a philharmonic symphony.  I could never share that dream with anyone because it was considered “corny” in my childhood neighborhood to like musicals, and also the chance for a person of color having the opportunity to professionally perform concerts seemed very small to me, because there were so few role models for me.  Performing with the Philharmonic has made me realize, for the first time in my professional career, that I can do anything that I set my mind to.  It has created a huge motivation in me to keep growing, to keep trying new things, to keep evolving as an artist.”

When asked his opinion of the cultural scene in Las Vegas, Davis exclaimed “There’s a huge cultural scene in Las Vegas!  UNLV presents an amazing amount of talent.  There are museums and other forms of traditional culture, and the Smith Center will surely open many doors for the cultural arts here.  Cirque [du Soleil] and the shows on the Strip provide a different kind of culture that’s not found in other places, but it’s still culture.  It’s culturally-specific to Vegas.”

The other featured vocalists included Joan Sobel (soprano) and Larry Wayne Morbitt (tenor) from The Phantom of the Opera (Las Vegas) and Lynette Chambers (mezzo alto), a professor of voice from Hardin-Simmons University in Abilene, Texas.  All graced the event with superb vocal tones and emotion.

The prodigious talent on display in this performance is very heartening to any follower of culture in Las Vegas.  The Philharmonic orchestra was as refined and powerful as the Boston Pops — perfection in concert.

Las Vegans, you’ve got all the culture you could ask for right here in Sin City, starting with our own Philharmonic.

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