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Desert Companion
Classical

2016 Fall culture calendar: Music

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The Ying Quartet
Courtesy of UNLV

The Ying Quartet

Food, festivals & Family | Music | Theater &  Dance | Literature and Ideas | Visual Arts

{09|14

Great jazz by any other name

What the (inhale) Joe Williams UNLV Jazz Scholarship Band (exhale) lacks in having a clever name, they make up for in rock-solid jazz chops. They kick off the UNLV Jazz Concert Series, followed by Jazz Ensemble II (October 12) and the Latin Jazz Ensemble (November 9) — all highlighting UNLV’s top student musical talent. (AK) 7p, Clark County Library, free, 702-507-3458

 

{09|15

Latin spice

With his soap-opera good looks and voice that nails the sweet spot between spiritual guru and sexy-dad-next-door, ranchera singer Alejandro Fernandez was perhaps destined for stratospheric breakout success in the Latin pop genre. But he hasn’t forgotten his roots: The international sensation regularly fires up his Twitter to promote awareness of Mexican culture, music and folklore. That’s a high note, indeed. (AK) MGM Grand Garden Arena, $106-$2,300, mgmgrand.com

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{09|17

Your new haunt

The only thing missing from Vegas-based The Unwieldies’ tunes is the staticky crackle of a gramophone needle. Their throwback parlor folk has it all otherwise: grace, pep, smarts, longing, all laced up beautifully with Danielle Bell’s sweet, haunting voice. (AK) 7p, Ansan Sister City Park, 7801 Ducharme Ave., free, artslasvegas.org

 

{09|20

Strummin’ up a storm

The Avett Brothers play their folk and bluegrass like they wear their suspenders — with aching, dew-eyed earnestness. But the Avetts are no stiff tribute band playing musical museum pieces. Their rock-fortified folk is perfect for a night of stomping and clapping at the saloon. Or, er, casino venue bar. (AK) Brooklyn Bowl, $47-$75, brooklynbowl.com

 

{09|22/16

Up close and personal

You’ll hear the love at the Las Vegas Philharmonic’s Spotlight concert — that’s because the orchestra members select their favorite pieces to perform in smaller ensembles. In this first concert of season’s series, Stephen Caplan (oboe), De Ann Letourneau (violin), Jason Bonham (viola) and Andrew Smith (cello) perform Kodaly’s Duo for Violin and Cello, Opus 7; Beethoven’s String Trio in C Minor, Opus 9, No. 3; and Mozart’s Quartet in F Major, K. 370. (AK) 7:30p, Troesh Studio Theater at The Smith Center, $70, thesmithcenter.com

 

{9/23-24

Blues academy

They say you can’t teach the blues, but Lucky Peterson practically got a Ph.D. in it from a private tutor: It’s said that Chicago blues legend Willie Dixon discovered Lucky as a 5-year-old blues prodigy and took him on as a pupil. Peterson parlayed his native musical chops into the legendary triple threat he is today — a scorching guitarist, stellar organist and soulful blues wailer. (AK) 7p, Cabaret Jazz in The Smith Center, $39-$59, thesmithcenter.com

Lucky Peterson

Courtesy The Smith Center

 

{09|23-25

Downtown sounds, sights and bites

 Now in its fourth year, Life Is Beautiful lands in Downtown Vegas for three days in September. This year’s music roster splits the difference between safe-bet headliners (Mumford & Sons, Major Lazer), festival-friendly throwbacks (Jane’s Addiction, Third Eye Blind), dance/dubstep/jam/DJ/ambient artists (Bassnectar, Gramatik, Seven Lions), zippity freeform saxophone sorcery (Yamasi Washington), dreamboaty five o’clock shadow boyfriend-rock (Pete Yorn) … uh, keyboard prom-night hairspray buckle-shoe pop (The Wombats) … guy-with-great-hair-and-a-loaded-Mac (Flume, Spag Heddy, Gryffin), er, hooky but groovable British scruffrock (Catfish and the Bottlemen), broken dancefloor Nintendocore (Crystal Castles), and darksider tattooed-neck rap (Die Antwoord, G Eazy). Indeed, as with that other Vegas phenom, the buffet, Life Is Beautiful has something for everyone. (AK) $285-$2,495, Downtown Las Vegas, lifeisbeautiful.com

 

{09|23

Philly stakes

According to lore, Daryll Hall and John Oates met in 1967 at The Adelphi Ballroom Battle of the Bands — they’d both leapt into the service elevator to flee the riot and gunfire that had broken out. Thus the palpable undercurrent of atavistic animal fear you’ve always noticed in “Kiss On My List.” (AK) 7p, MGM Grand Garden Arena, $45-$125, mgmgrand.com

 

{10|02

Freak out, indeed

Hi. Hungry for a slice of delicious rock ’n’ roll irony layer cake? Dweezil Zappa, son of iconic antiestablishment trickster rock god Frank Zappa, ran afoul of the Zappa family trust, which told him to cease-and-desist performing under the tour banner of “Zappa Plays Zappa” or even “Dweezil Zappa Plays Frank Zappa.” His solution would make papa iconoclast proud. The tour has since been rechristened, “Dweezil Zappa Plays Whatever the F@*! He Wants — The Cease and Desist Tour.” Expect songs by Frank Za ... uh, you-know-who. (AK) 7p, Brooklyn Bowl, $35-$65, brooklynbowl.com

 

{10|02

Sí-ing is believing

 Sure, mariachi is a rich Hispanic musical tradition — but it’s also a powerful teaching tool. In ¡Viva el Mariachi!, students from the school district’s award-winning Mariachi Music Instructional Program will showcase their talent, creativity and drive, proving that a youthful mariachi resurgence is on the move. (AK) 7p, Clark County Library, free, 702-507-3458

 

{10|14

A flute of fate

Jethro Tull was the rock band that Baudelaire never had — those lurking, villainous blues-rock grooves, the lyrics brimming with bogs and angels, allegorical, capital-letter Painters and Poets. And you can totally imagine Baudelaire rockin’ that flute with impish glee. In this concert, Jethro Tull mastermind Ian Anderson performs the legendary band’s greatest hits in what’s sure to be a marathon show with a flounced sleeve or two. (AK) 7:30p, The Smith Center, $35-$95, thesmithcenter.com

 

{10|22

Wolfgang gang

The Mozart Orchestra of New York is like the Navy SEALs of classical musicians — an elite special ops music team made of NYC’s most accomplished players. They’re known for handling Wolfgang Amadeus’ works with unparalleled sensitivity, depth and authority. In this Charles Vanda Master Series kickoff, the orchestra will perform Symphony Nos. 39, 40, and 41. (AK) 8p, UNLV’s Artemus Ham Hall, $25-$75, pac.unlv.edu

 

{10|29

Golden idol

Rare is the musical artist who can both evolve with the times and remain timeless — an artist like Johnny Mathis. Celebrating his 60th year in the music industry, he’ll perform his big hits and personal favorites in a concert that’s sure to be a musical history lesson. (AK) 7:30p, Reynolds Hall in The Smith Center, $29-$175, thesmithcenter.com

 

{11|07

Lucky, charmed

In an early holiday treat, those crushingly wholesome ambassadors to Irish musical culture Celtic Thunder will perform a mix of upbeat classics and traditional ballads. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll dance a spritely jig through your joyous, confused tears. (AK) 7:30p, The Smith Center, $24-$79, thesmithcenter.com

 

{11/12

Three’s a crowd-pleaser

How to improve upon jazz pianist Hiromi Uehara’s mind-bending virtuosity on the piano? Pair her with two equally virtuoso jazz players — in this case, Anthony Jackson on contrabass guitar and Simon Phillips on drums. In full Voltron form, The Trio Project launches into aerobic, freeform jazz excursions that embrace complexity without ever losing a sense of play. (AK) 8p, UNLV’s Artemus Ham Hall, $20-$55, unlv.pac.edu

 

{11|19

Gaels of celebration

Celtic dancing, music and ancient druidic sacrificial rites are the highlights of A Celtic Thanksgiving, an annual celebration of Gaelic culture. Okay, there aren’t any sacrificial rites. Just making sure you’re still with us! (AK) 3:30p, Clark County Library, free, 702-507-3458

 

{12|03

Happy Cry-mas

It’s practically a modern holiday tradition: getting all happy-weepy-hand-squeezy when Andrea Bocelli launches into that operatic soul-stirrer, “Time to Say Goodbye.” It’s okay! We all do it! (AK) 8p, MGM Grand Garden Arena, $118-3,019, mgmgrand.com

 

{12|08

Honky-tonk man

The humorously blasé title of Dwight Yoakam’s 1986 debut album, Guitars, Cadillacs, Etc., Etc. hinted that he didn’t plan on taking the conventions of honky-tonk music too seriously. And in doing that, he built a career that simultaneously breathed some livening rock ’n’ roll fire into country and helped steer it back to its proper roots. Yoakam’s enduring presence in the country genre is a welcome one — most recently manifested in his latest, critical rave-inducing album, Second Hand Heart. (AK) 8p, The Chelsea at The Cosmopolitan, $29-$352, cosmopolitanlasvegas.com

 

{01|24

Keep on Trockin’

Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo has been producing its parody of classical ballet for more than 40 years, making it something of a (hilarious) institution itself. This all-male comedy-dance troupe sends up ballet’s more silly, overserious elements — while at the same time celebrating the vigor and discipline the art of dance demands. (AK) 8p, UNLV’s Artemus Ham Hall, $25-$75, unlv.edu/pac

 

{02|16

Three’s (musical) company

 In this second installment of the Las Vegas Philharmonic’s Spotlight concert series — in which players perform their favorite pieces penned for smaller ensembles — Cory Tiffin (clarinet), Jason Bonham (viola) and Voltaire Verzosa (piano) perform Schumann’s Märchenbilder, Opus 113; Brahms’ Sonata No. 2 in E-flat Major, Opus 120, No. 2; and Mozart’s Kegelstatt Trio in E-flat Major, K. 498. (AK) 7:30p, Troesh Studio Theater at The Smith Center, $70, thesmithcenter.com

 

{02|18

Pop goes the classical

Puccini? Sure. Gershwin? Definitely. Adele? Yep! Coldplay? That too. Taylor Swift? Why not? The unfussily omnivorous crossover trio Simply Three (violinist Glen McDaniel, cellist Zack Clark and bassist Nicholas Villalobos) apply their well-honed classical chops both old and new, revealing melodic subtleties and sophistications in songs you thought you knew. (AK) 8p, UNLV’s Artemus Ham Hall, $20-$55, unlv.edu/pac

 

{03|25

Two pianists enter, one pianist leaves

 In Piano Battle, Andreas Kern and Paul Cibis turn their ivories into weapons, firing Chopin, Debussy and Liszt at each other like so many musical ICBMs, testing, taunting and one-upping each other — with the audience being the ultimate judge of who wins. But Piano Battle is intended to be much more than a ticket-selling shtick. In addition to highlighting the skills of two blazingly talented pianists, the show aims to bring classical music to a wider audience. Indeed, if you want to unplug the kids from the Pandora playlist and fill their brains with a dose of electrifying virtuoso live music, choose this battle. (AK) 8p, UNLV’s Artemus Ham Hall, $20-$55, unlv.edu/pac

 

{04/16/17

Music is everywhere

The Ying Quartet is a classical ensemble, sure, but it might be just as accurate to describe it as a philosophy: the restlessly innovative group is dedicated to weaving music into our everyday lives, performing everywhere from juvenile prisons to elementary schools, and commissioning challenging original compositions that address contemporary issues and headline topics. On tap at this spring concert is beauty and urgency. (AK) 7:30p, UNLV’s Dr. Arturo Rando-Grillot Recital Hall, $30, unlv.edu/pac


I SENSE A THEME

Music brings us news of the world with these globe-spanning acts

{10|01

This poet’s got the keys

Peruvian experimental pianist and poet Carlos Mongrut knows something about containing multitudes. In this hybrid concert/reading that celebrates National Hispanic Heritage Month, Mongrut will cover music and poetry from Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Mexico, Nicaragua, Peru and Uruguay. (AK) 2p, Rainbow Library, free, 702-507-3711

Fendika{09|25

Jumping for joy

You could call Fendika a performance troupe, but that wouldn’t quite capture it. Rather, this group of dancers, singers and instrumentalists manifest the ecstatic art of propulsive, mesmerizing azmari music and jubilant eskista dancing (imagine the joyous, jumping precursor to modern-day popping and locking), Ethiopian art forms with venerable ancient roots. Fendika is one of North Africa’s premier cultural exports, so be sure to catch this don’t-miss show. (AK) 2p, Winchester Cultural Center, $10-$12, 702-455-7340

Marina{11|06

From Russia, with love

Marina V’s epic, operatic pop sounds like she’s dashed through a life of drama and adventure — and she has. She lived through the demise of the Soviet Union and escaped to build a new life in the U.S. At this intimate concert, she’ll share her story through both her words and her poppy, powerful, heart-on-sleeve songs. (AK) 3:30p, Whitney Library, free, 702-507-4017

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