The Southern Nevada Musical Arts Society (SNMAS) has been making beautiful choral music since 1963, founded as the Las Vegas Musical Arts Workshop by Strip performer and Las Vegas journalist Bill Willard. The early conductors performed a variety of repertoire including two musicals “Oklahoma” and “Carousel.” The Workshop’s performance venues included hotels on the Las Vegas Strip.
After being under the direction of several conductors, Douglas R. Peterson became the full-time director of the workshop in 1968 and served as its music director and conductor for 52 years. As music director, Maestro Peterson provided singers and instrumentalists with the unique opportunity to perform the world’s greatest choral/orchestra masterworks and enriched the lives of Southern Nevada concertgoers for over 5 decades!
In the early 1970s, the Las Vegas Musical Arts Workshop was renamed the Southern Nevada Musical Arts Society to better represent musicians from cities outside of Las Vegas.
Randy Pagel served as guest conductor during the 58th and 59th Seasons starting in 2022, continuing the tradition of performing great choral masterworks with performances of the Brahms Requiem, Mozart Requiem, and John Rutter’s Requiem, and Gloria. SNMAS welcomed Randy Pagel as the full-time music director for their 60th Anniversary Season!
SNMAS is the oldest continuously performing organization of its kind in Nevada.
Poised for its 60th season, the organization’s mission statement remains the same — to promote and perform quality choral and orchestra masterworks, musical productions, and chamber concerts consistent with a strong community and educational outreach in Southern Nevada.
The Society’s repertoire includes over one hundred masterworks of the world’s great choral literature including:
Elijah by F. Mendelssohn
St. Paul by F. Mendelssohn
Mass in B Minor by J. S. Bach
St. Matthew Passion by J. S. Bach
Ninth Symphony by L. V. Beethoven
Choral Fantasia by L. V. Beethoven
King David by A. Honegger
Manzoni Requiem by G. Verdi
Ein deutsches Requiem by J. Brahms
Mass in C minor by W. A. Mozart
Judas Maccabaeus by G. F. Handel
Theresienmesse by F. J. Haydn
A Sea Symphony by R. Vaughan Williams
SNMAS’s proud history includes the American premiere of David Fanshawe’s electrifying African Sanctus in 1977 and Alice Parker’s “Remembering Those Who Fly” in 1995. SNMAS has worked with some of the best-known choral conductors of all time — Jester Hairston, Jerold Ottley, Robert Shaw as guest conductor of Handel’s Messiah, and Helmuth Rilling, as guest conductor of Bach’s St. John Passion in 1975.
The Musical Arts Singers performed Handel’s Dixit Dominus at the National ACDA Convention in Salt Lake City in 1985. The Society received four grants from the NEA during the 1980s. During the 1990s, the Society staged several Gilbert & Sullivan productions and collaborated in performances with the Las Vegas Philharmonic in 1999 and 2006. The Society’s instrumental repertoire includes symphonies, piano concertos, and overtures. The Musical Arts Chorus has performed 12 times with the renowned tenor, Andrea Bocelli, in his Christmas concerts at MGM’s Grand Garden Arena.
Letter from Eric Whitacre