LAS VEGAS PHILHARMONIC GALA

With Las Vegas Philharmonic President and CEO Jeri Crawford summoning the rare conga line to the stage at Reynolds Hall, the city’s symphony orchestra held its annual gala at The Smith Center on March 3. The conga line is a staple of performances by the contemporary pop/jazz ensemble Pink Martini, led by music director Thomas Lauderdale and vocalist China Forbes.

The 12-member Pink Martini lineup was joined by the Philharmonic string section, led by concertmaster De Ann Letourneau. The city symphony was launched in 1998 and is celebrating its 20th season.

The night opened with a dinner auction at The Smith Center’s fifth-level event hall, which was transformed into a 1920s speakeasy, then continued at Reynolds Hall with a full performance by Pink Martini, which mixes contemporary pop and rock, jazz and classical numbers. The band played its cover of Helen Reddy’s “I Am Woman,” with Forbes inviting dozens of women onstage to sing the 1972 anthem of empowerment.

The night closed with Crawford coercing those in the gala audience to groove in a conga line at the back of the stage. As she said afterward, “I wanted to take things into my own hands.” The event raised more than $100,000 (though the final total is not being disclosed) to help fund the Philharmonic’s education and community outreach programs

Photos by Cashman Photo

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