The Southern Nevada Musical Arts Society is a 501(c)(3) non-profit community organization whose purpose is the promotion and performance of quality choral and orchestra masterworks, musical productions, and chamber concerts consistent with a strong community and educational outreach in Southern Nevada.
SNMAS is the umbrella organization for three performing groups: the Musical Arts Chorus, a large community chorus; the Musical Arts Singers, a vocal chamber ensemble of semi-professional singers; and the Musical Arts Orchestra, comprised of professional instrumentalists.
The organization is administered by a Board of Trustees comprised of representatives from the business community and Society members. The Society is funded by ticket sales, contract performances, season memberships, private and business donations, grants, and advertising in concert programs. Supporters of the Society have included Wynn Resorts, Target Stores, Thomas & Mack Company, Klai-Juba Architects, Lochsa Engineering, and the Nevada Arts Council.
Dr. Douglas R. Peterson is in his is in his fifty-first season as music director of the Southern Nevada Musical Arts Society. He received a “Lifetime Achievement Award” from the Nevada Chapter of ACDA (American Choral Directors of America) in October of 2017. In April, 2017, the American Federation of Musicians presented him a “Certificate of Appreciation” for his “Forty-Nine Years” as Music Director of SNMAS. He was honored as one of three Generations of Leaders in the Arts with a “Legend Award” by Nevada Arts Advocates in 2013. He was commended by Governor Gibbons for his many contributions to the Arts in Nevada in 2007, and was selected as a “Local Hero” award recipient through Bank of America’s Neighborhood Excellence Initiative Program. He received the Governor’s Arts Award for Excellence in the Arts in 1987 and in 1992 was recognized by Governor Bob Miller and Senators Richard Bryan and Harry Reid for his significant contribution to the Arts in Nevada. The Las Vegas Chamber of Commerce awarded Dr. Peterson its annual Community Achievement Award in Arts and Entertainment in 1998 and the Musical Arts Society honored him at its recent 50th Anniversary Banquet “in appreciation of his 45 years of excellence in musical artistry and leadership.” The Nevada Music Educators Association also took the occasion to bestow on him its “Steve Maytan Service to Music Education Award.” Dr. Peterson retired as Emeritus Associate Professor of Music at UNLV in 2003, having taught at the University for 36 years.
SNMAS accompanist Eric Eichorst teaches elementary music at Louis Wiener Elementary School and holds a master’s degree in piano performance from The University of South Dakota. He has been a staff accompanist at the Interlochen summer arts camps.
A Look Back
The fall of 1967, Douglas Peterson became the new choral director at a very young Nevada Southern University in Las Vegas. Dr. Howard Chase, department chairman, taught music theory and Keith Moon, instrumental music. The newly created music department was located in NSU’s Social Science Building. Doug had been promised 60 singers for his university chorus, but there were just 24 singers in the choral program the first year.
The new music department held classes in a campus social science classroom while a nearby auditorium served both as a rehearsal and performance venue for choral classes. Doug was eager to build the choral program which added a second ensemble known as the Chamber Singers. Doug especially remembers the NSU campus as being very barren with a gravel road leading to the campus about this time.
In 1968, Doug Peterson accepted an invitation to become music director of the Las Vegas Musical Arts Workshop, the largest community choral group in town at that time (today called the Southern Nevada Musical Arts Society). That decision was to play an extremely important role in his future.
Doug surely could never have imagined back then that 48 years later he would experience the thrill of conducting the Society’s Musical Arts Chorus and Orchestra in a memorable 53rd season performance of J. S. Bach’s “Magnificat” and Mozart’s “Great Mass in C Minor” in UNLV’s Ham Concert Hall on Nov. 29, 2015. The Hall wasn’t yet around in those very early days, but Doug still is, and he celebrates his 90th birthday on February 8th, 2016.
The Southern Nevada Musical Arts Society ventures into the community, performing at local functions, community centers, and concerts. The Musical Arts Chorus performs with the renowned tenor, Andrea Bocelli, in his Christmas Shows at the MGM Grand Garden Arena annually. Other appearances have included performances at UNLV’s 40th Anniversary Educational Outreach Celebration, the Del Webb Retirement Community Center in Henderson, and St. Mark’s Square at the Venetian Hotel. It should be noted that the Society strives to keep tickets affordable for the entire community.
CCSD groups appearing on Musical Arts Society programs in Ham Concert Hall have included Les Chanteuses (women’s ensemble) and LVA Academy Singers from the Las Vegas Academy, Greenspun Junior High School,and Thurman White Middle School, among others. Complimentary and discounted tickets to Musical Arts concerts are made available through the Clark County School District. In April, 2007, Randy Pagel, distinguished choral clinician and music educator, directed his newly-formed Las Vegas Youth Choristers in SNMAS’s spring masterworks concert accompanied by the Musical Arts Orchestra. The Southern Nevada Musical Arts Society’s educational outreach program has included performances by the Musical Arts Singers in the area’s elementary and middle schools.