Las Vegas Philharmonic conductor leaving after a decade
Donato Cabrera has spent more time leading the Las Vegas Philharmonic than anyone in the symphony’s 25-year history. After spending a decade wielding the baton, the adventurous music director is putting it down.
Cabrera is leaving the Philharmonia after the 2023-24 season, the company announced Tuesday morning. Cabrera’s 10-year contract expires at the end of that campaign, and both sides are moving on. Neither the conductor nor a representative of the Philharmonic have specified further details.
Cabrera’s final performance as conductor is on May 11, 2024, at The Smith Center, a performance of Symphony No. 3 of Saint-Saens with Grammy Award-winning organist Paul Jacobs. Cabrera and Jacobs most recently worked together at Carnegie Hall in 2012, for the New York premiere of Mason Bates’ Mass Transmission.
Cabrera thanked the Philharmonic, which gave him the opportunity to conduct the symphony in his hometown. Cabrera’s family lived in Las Vegas until he was 10, before moving to Reno.
In a statement, Cabrera said, “I look forward to supporting and witnessing the continued growth of this vital arts organization, and although my time with the Las Vegas Philharmonic will end as music director after the 2023-24 season, I can” Don’t wait to join our incredible audience in cheering on the orchestra and this music we all love.”
A search committee is being convened to find a new MD. Cabrera himself was appointed by the Philharmonic’s Board, replacing David Itkin in 2014. Cabrera was among a series of guest conductors who led the orchestra for two seasons before he was hired.
A spokeswoman for the Philharmonic says a decision has not yet been made on whether Cabrera himself will help in the search for his replacement.
Philharmonic Board President Jeri Crawford said of Cabrera: “He has shown how approachable an orchestral conductor can be, which has drawn audiences to more and more concerts and spread the word about this wonderful symphony orchestra. in our community. We look forward to an incredible final season with Donato.”
Cabrera will continue to lead the California Symphony in the Bay Area. He has split his time between there and Las Vegas since taking the Las Vegas post. The Philharmonic unveiled his many achievements, among them:
— Commissioning of the world premieres of Concert no. 3 of Philip Glass’ Piano, written and performed by Simone Dinnerstein and Me Chicano by Juan Pablo Contreras. Cabrera conducted the local premieres of many American composers, including Jessie Montgomery, Caroline Shaw, Anna Clyne, Missy Mazzoli, Gabriela Lena Frank and Mason Bates. Cabrera also featured local composers featuring premiere works by Jennifer Bellor, Diego Vega, Nathan Tanouye (LVP’s principal trombonist) and the internationally acclaimed Michael Torke.
— Guiding the Las Vegas cultural community through the pandemic lockdown by hosting his weekly MusicWise broadcast interview series. Reaching thousands, his interviews with internationally renowned artists, including Canadian brass hornist Jeffrey Nelsen and Chicago Symphony principal timpanist David Herbert, were interspersed with interviews with local arts and cultural leaders, including Myron Martin and Nancy Usher, as well as local business and thought leaders. including Mark Shunock and chefs Brian Howard, Giovanni Mauro and James Trees. Concurrently, Cabrera wrote the daily blog, The Music Plays On, for 172 days, sharing his thoughts on the greatest composers and performers of all musical genres.
— Creation, in collaboration with Keith Thompson, of the Very Vegas Showcase, which celebrated and showcased the vast wealth of talent found in Las Vegas. Cabrera showcased individual members of the Las Vegas Philharmonic like never before by programming concerts with De Anne Letourneau, Andrew Smith, Stephen Caplan, Cory Tiffin, Bill Bernatis, Kimberly Glennie, Mika Brunson and Tom Wright. Cabrera also created the Spotlight Concert Series, featuring Las Vegas Philharmonic musicians in chamber music performances.
Not all of Cabrera’s initiatives have hit the ground running, at least not yet. He’s long wanted to team up with one of Las Vegas’ rock bands — The Killers or Imagine Dragons, mostly — for a show at Reynolds Hall, similar to Metallica’s shows with the San Francisco Symphony.
John Katsilometes’ column runs daily in Section A. His “PodKats”! podcast can be found at reviewjournal.com/podcasts. Contact him at [email protected]. Follow @johnnykats on Twitter, @JohnnyKats1 on Instagram.