By Vernon Robison
Moapa Valley Progress
Four Moapa Valley youth had the distinction last week of being among the first student musicians to perform in the new Smith Center for the Performing Arts in Las Vegas. After being open for little more than a month, the Smith Center hosted the four ensembles of the Las Vegas Youth Symphony program on Thursday night, April 12.
Moapa Valley High School freshman Phina Romero (violin) performed in the Symphonia ensemble. And Mack Lyon Middle School students Riley Fullmer (cello), Anna Stratton (violin) and Katie Hendrix (double bass) were members of the Youth Ensemble Group. Hendricks had the added distinction of being the Principal Bassist for her ensemble.
“It was a fantastic performance,” said Lyon Middle School orchestra teacher Walter White who was in attendance. “And they played to a nearly full house.”
White explained that the Smith Center staff had only expected to fill a portion of the lower level of the hall. As the concert date grew near, that area quickly sold out and they were required to open additional balcony seats.
“By the time they were finished I think they had to open up the whole house,” White said.
The mission of the Las Vegas Youth Orchestra program is to provide youth in the community an opportunity to expand musical skills in a demanding orchestral setting. The audition only ensembles are made up of a diverse group of about 300 students divided into four ensembles. These include the Youth Ensemble, Symphonia, Youth Symphony and Youth Philharmonic. The groups hold two hour rehearsals on one night each week in Las Vegas.
“It is a big commitment and it takes a lot of time,” said Annetta Romero, Phina’s mother. “But it is well worth it. The students show so much growth and improvement over the year.”