By BOBBIE GREEN
The Southern Nevada Symphony Orchestra (SNSO) sold out the Mesquite Community Theater on Saturday evening, April 22 for their final concert, “Symphonic Tribute to Peace.”
The audience was eager to see and hear their friends and neighbors who make up the SNSO. Members of the 65-piece volunteer orchestra are eager to share their love of music and their musical talents with others. Members are mostly local, but some hail from as far away as California and Montana.
Under the guidance of Selmer Spitzer, Music Director and Founder of SNSO, the group has flourished and become a beloved part of the community since 2014. Packing up to every performance is testament to that.
The opening night audience listened intently to the music. Respectfully, there was no chatter in the audience. But lots of applause after each piece.
Jim and Dandi Knuth come to listen to the band at each performance. Jim said his favorite tonight was the “Barber of Seville” while Cindi said she loved “Hear the people sing” from “Les Miserables.”
The concert narrator for the first time with the SNSO was Greg Dutkowski. He did a superb job. But then, community members are used to seeing Dutkowski volunteer his time and vocal talents as emcee for many community events such as the Mesquite Senior Games.
“I’ve never met a microphone that I didn’t like,” Dutkowski joked.
During the intermission, a chorus of voices could be heard expressing their joy to each other and talking about the song they liked the most.
“I became a member of the orchestra by asking to attend a rehearsal playing the French horn,” said local musician Deborah Stephenson. “But I also brought my favorite instrument, an oboe.”
She left rehearsal as an oboe player for the orchestra.
The program featured two of the musicians.
The first was Nona Miller, a violinist since the age of nine. She has performed with many symphony orchestras during her career. In 2006, a car accident kept her from performing for some time. Since then, she has made her way. Nona is happy to play in the SNSO under Dr. Selmer Spitzer, another North Dakota native. Miller said his playing stamina is not yet at its old level. She’s still working on it.
The other star musician is percussionist, Chuck Hanson. Chuck started acting at the age of twelve. In the 1980s, he was part of the Thunderbird Band playing music from the 50s and 60s. He joined the Southern Nevada Symphony Orchestra in 2014. Hanson is employed as a building inspector and is also part of the local jazz ensemble “DryHeat”.
Dr. Selmer Spitzer, originally from North Dakota, has been active in music since he was six years old. He has an MM Ed from the College of Music in Chicago and received his Ph.D. in administration and music education at Lawrence University in Sarasota. FL.
Spitzer has spent his life as a music teacher, music teacher, instrumental music director at various schools and universities across the United States. He came to Mesquite with much knowledge, experience and awards.
The SNSO holds its rehearsals at the Bunkerville Community Center. There aren’t many places big enough to accommodate them. They dream of a new Performing Arts Facility in Mesquite that could accommodate an audience of 800 to 1000 people. The Mesquite Community Theater has only 250 seats. The orchestra is looking for donors to help with this project. For more information on how to help, call Spitzer at 701-226-6062.