A Tribute Through Pictures in Sound

Las Vegas Philharmonic to Perform Acclaimed Russian Works with Season Launch

Of all the classical pieces penned by Russian composer Modest Mussorgsky, his most famous originated from a deeply personal connection.

His evocative work “Pictures at an Exhibition” was inspired by the vibrant works at an art exhibition honoring the death of his close friend and fellow Russian, painter Vladimir Hartmann.

His evocative work “Pictures at an Exhibition” was inspired by the vibrant works at an art exhibition honoring the death of his close friend and fellow Russian, painter Vladimir Hartmann.

In its very name, the piece pays tribute to his lost friend.

The composition also serves as a shining example of the Russian stylings Mussorgsky worked to preserve in all his pieces.

This made the work an ideal fit for the Las Vegas Philharmonic’s September 7 concert at The Smith Center, when the orchestra will kick off its 2019-2020 season with acclaimed Russian works.

“What’s so wonderful is that Mussorgsky perfectly captures each painting through musical portraiture, and these pictures in sound are still so evocative today,” says philharmonic Music Director Donato Cabrera. “It’s also a great example of Russian repertoire.”

A Russian Showcase

As a fitting pairing to showcase top Russian composers, the philharmonic will also perform Pyotr Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto in D major — arguably the most celebrated concerto ever written.

The concerto’s dually adventurous and delicate movements interweave European stylings with Russian folk tunes, Cabrera notes, making it a true homage to Russian culture.

“It’s such a great musical journey one takes when hearing this concerto,” Cabrera says.

The piece will not only showcase the virtuoso talents of acclaimed guest soloist Francesca Dego, he adds, but it will also involve an energetic performance by the whole philharmonic.

“I love concertos that engage everyone on stage, and this certainly is that,” Cabrera says.

Spotlighting a Top Female Composer

The philharmonic will round out the concert by spotlighting another world-famous woman in music, Grammy-nominated composer Anna Clyne.

Cabrera has felt eager to showcase a piece by Clyne since he met her years ago as the composer-in-residence for the Chicago Symphony, he says.

Instantly hooked by her whimsical, vibrant piece “Masquerade,” he decided upon hearing it last fall that the philharmonic should include the work in its season launch.

“(Clyne) just has this kaleidoscopic orchestral palette. She knows how to use the orchestra in such a great and inventive way,” Cabrera says. “I think this piece is one of the most wonderful concert openers to be written in the last 25 years.”

Clyne boasts many accolades across her career, including being commissioned by renowned organizations such as Carnegie Hall, the Los Angeles Philharmonic, the Houston Ballet and more.

Cabrera enjoys featuring works by living composers, to remind audiences that composers “aren’t just a name on a page,” he says.

“You think of Brahms and Tchaikovsky as these old photographs or paintings, and people don’t remember they were once living, breathing humans,” Cabrera notes.

SEE THE SHOW

The Las Vegas Philharmonic performs “Opening Night; Pictures At An Exhibition” on September 7 at The Smith Center.

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