Given the fractured political state of our country, it’s hard to imagine a patriotic musical show that might effectively harmonize America’s red and the blue citizenry. But the Las Vegas Philharmonic promises to do just that with an intellectual yet stirring program relevant not only to the U.S.A., but, more specifically, downtown Las Vegas.
The crescendo of “An American Portrait” ought to be “dean of American composers” Aaron Copland’s “Lincoln Portrait,” which was written to promote patriotism during World War II and honor President Abraham Lincoln (who will also be depicted on the big screen this week; see page 22). The number “samples” folk songs of the Civil War era, as well as some of the 16th president’s speeches and letters. Those verbal elements will be narrated Saturday night by Zappos CEO and downtown development booster Tony Hsieh.
Copland’s work figures elsewhere in the program, including his double suite Old American Songs, and Fanfare For the Common Man, which provided the inspiration for Vegas artist Tim Bavington’s Symphony Park sculpture and Reynolds Hall foyer painting.
Rounding out the program is a selection of Leonard Bernstein’s immigrant-themed songs from West Side Story, Charles Ives’ pioneering polytonal piece Variations on ‘America’, and Samuel Barber’s minor-key tearjerker Adagio for Strings. The Fourth of July aside, the LV Phil could not have picked a better time to ditch the old European masters for one night, and concentrate on the rousing, galvanizing work of own composer legends. 7:15 p.m. pre-concert conversation, 8 p.m. show time; Reynolds Hall at The Smith Center, 361 Symphony Park Ave., www.thesmithcenter.com, 749-2000, $46-$94.