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September 30, 2014

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L.V. Philharmonic’s new director is in a Nevada state of mind

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Music Director Donato Cabrera conducting the Las Vegas Philharmonic.

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Las Vegas Philharmonic Music Director Donato Cabrera.

The Las Vegas Philharmonic can now focus solely on what it does best: perform beautiful music.

The business of finding a permanent host behind it, the Las Vegas symphony orchestra announced today the appointment of Donato Cabrera as its new music director. The current resident conductor of the vaunted San Francisco Symphony will open the 2014-15 season on Sept. 2 at Reynolds Hall in the Smith Center for the Performing Arts with a program spotlighting opera star Deborah Voigt.

“It is with great joy and excited anticipation that we welcome Donato Cabrera to the Las Vegas Philharmonic. As we come to the end of our second full season as a resident company of the Smith Center, this appointment propels us boldly into our future. With Maestro Cabrera, we feel that we have found the right person to lead our musicians and thrill our audiences and to become a prominent figurehead in the burgeoning Las Vegas cultural community,” L.V. Philharmonic President Jeri Crawford said in a statement. “The appointment of Mr. Cabrera to this role was made unanimously by the executive committee of the Board of Trustees following the recommendation from a music director search committee that included significant input from the musicians.”

The 40-year-old Cabrera was formally introduced during an announcement event today at Las Vegas Country Club, but he was hardly an unknown figure. He made his debut with the Phil in January at the “Battle Born, Nevada Proud!” Masterworks Series concert. According to a news release publicizing his appointment, the new music director lived in Las Vegas as a child before his family moved to Reno when he was age 10. He graduated from UNR but has family in Las Vegas.

Cabrera will conduct the Phil’s holiday performances Dec. 6, a Masterworks concert of Mendelssohn and Schumann on March 7, a Pops concert of classics on March 28 and Tchaikovsky’s Fifth Symphony to close out the Masterworks Series on April 25, 2015.

Cabrera also has been appointed music director of the California Symphony and the New Hampshire Music Festival, accepting both positions in 2013. He has been the music director of the Green Bay Symphony since 2011. The range of responsibilities is nothing new for a music director of the L.V. Philharmonic. Outgoing director David Itkin lived in Dallas during his five years with the orchestra, and his departure was about as harmonious as a cymbals crash.

Itkin had expressed a desire to depart the orchestra on Memorial Day Weekend 2012, saying he would leave the following year when his contract expired. The Phil’s hierarchy instead negotiated a buyout of that contract. Over the past two seasons, a series of guest conductors (including Cabrera) led the orchestra in a sort of protracted audition process.

With that saga a part of L.V. Phil history, the orchestra is back to selling memberships and focusing on music. The 2014-15 season brochures are being mailed this week, and subscription renewals are now available.

As Crawford said in an email, “It was an elevated moment in the cultural history of this community.”

Follow John Katsilometes on Twitter at Twitter.com/JohnnyKats. Also, follow “Kats With the Dish” at Twitter.com/KatsWiththeDish.

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