In Memoriam

Dr. Douglas Peterson

Douglas Peterson became music director of the Las Vegas Musical Arts Workshop in 1968, shortly after arriving in Las Vegas. The Workshop was the leading community choral organization in Las Vegas, and later became the Southern Nevada Musical Arts Society (SNMAS). He served SNMAS as music director for 52 years. He provided singers and instrumentalists the unique opportunity to perform the world’s greatest choral-orchestra masterworks and enriched the lives of Southern Nevada concert-goers for over 5 decades.

Repertoire included “Elijah” by Mendelssohn; “St. Matthew Passion” by J. S. Bach; “Ninth Symphony” by Beethoven; “King David” by Honegger; “Manzoni Requiem” by Verdi; “A German Requiem” by Brahms, and the “Mass in C minor” by Mozart, and “Mass of the Children” by John Rutter. Under his leadership SNMAS performed the American premieres of David Fanshawe’s electrifying “African Sanctus” in 1977 and “Remembering Those Who Fly” by Alice Parker in 1995; and the Nevada premiere of “The World Beloved: A Bluegrass Mass” in 2013.

He brought some of the best-known choral conductors of all time – Jester Hairston, Robert Shaw, Jerold Ottley, and the German conductor, Helmuth Rilling to perform as guest conductors. He also led instrumental repertoire including symphonies, piano concertos, and overtures and produced countless performances of Broadway music, folk songs, and spirituals. He prepared the Musical Arts Chorus for performances with renowned tenor, Andrea Bocelli, in his Christmas concerts at MGM’s Grand Garden Arena, for a decade.

Doug’s many accolades included: being honored by SNMAS in appreciation of his “50 years of exemplary leadership in bringing choral orchestra masterworks to Southern Nevada” in 2018; given a “Lifetime Achievement Award” from the Nevada Chapter of American Choral Directors of America in 2017, presented a “Certificate of Appreciation” for his “Forty-Nine Years” as Music Director of SNMAS from the American Federation of Musicians in 2017; honored as one of “three Generations of Leaders in the Arts” with a “Legend Award” by Nevada Arts Advocates in 2013; honored for 45 years of “excellence in musical artistry and leadership” by SNMAS at its 50th Anniversary Banquet in 2013; given the “Steve Maytan Service to Music Education Award” by the Nevada Music Educators Association in 2013, given a “Local Hero Award” by Bank of America in 2006; given an annual “Community Achievement Award in Arts and Entertainment” by the Las Vegas Chamber of Commerce in 1998; given the Governor’s Arts Award for Excellence in the Arts in 1987; and recognized by Governor Bob Miller, Governor Gibbons, and Senators Richard Bryan and Harry Reid for his significant contribution to the Arts in Nevada.

Doug was one of the first three faculty members who started the Music Department at Nevada Southern University (now UNLV) and where he began the choral program in 1968. His university choral groups went on to represent the University and Las Vegas at prestigious conventions of both the American Choral Directors Association and the Music Educators National Conference. Doug retired as Emeritus Associate Professor of Music at UNLV in 2003 after teaching at the University for 36 years. His teaching career encompassed over 50 years.

Doug also conducted church choirs for over 25 years including Methodist churches and Community Lutheran Church in Las Vegas. Doug enjoyed summer orchestra conducting workshops in Norway, Scotland, Austria, France, Czechoslovakia, and the Ukraine. Doug was a kind, dedicated, charming, and giving person known for his spirit and enthusiasm. Doug brought much joy to and touched many lives in Southern Nevada with his passion for music.

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