Las Vegas’s Smith Center looks to change city’s image

Posted on: July 9, 2012

In Sunday’s (7/8) New York Times, Adam Nagourney writes about the new Smith Center for the Performing Arts, which serves as permanent home of the Las Vegas Philharmonic. “When the Smith Center for the Performing Arts opened in Las Vegas in March, Jennifer Hudson was on the program and Neil Patrick Harris was the master of ceremonies. But it was Joshua Bell, the classical violinist, who drew the most applause from the homegrown audience, cheering what seemed a moment of arrival for a city whose cultural association is more likely to be Liberace than Liszt. … For more than 25 years, Las Vegas has laid claim to being the entertainment capital of the nation. But it has presented a very specific kind of entertainment—elaborate, mass-market, big-ticket showstoppers … And it has been aimed at a very specific audience: tourists who come to the Strip, as opposed to the people who live here. … The Smith Center, with its dazzlingly ostentatious architectural ambition—very much in keeping with the nothing-is-too-extravagant spirit of Las Vegas—has set out to change that. The center cost $470 million and took 33 months to build. … The first hire by the Smith Center was not the architect, but an acoustical engineering firm. And that has paid dividends: the Cleveland Orchestra’s performance of a program of Beethoven and Smetana drew raves for the acoustics in a review from the music critic of The Cleveland Plain Dealer.”

Posted July 9, 2012