Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Reno Philharmonic Lights Up the Pioneer Center

I had the pleasure of attending Reno Philharmonic's "Latin Temptation" at Reno's Pioneer Center last night. I had seen one prior show—a cowboy poetry and music performance—at Pioneer Center, but this was completely different in almost every aspect.

The Reno Philharmonic, led this season by music director and conductor Laura Jackson, performs regularly at the venue. Jackson spoke before the show to members of the Reno-Tahoe Young Professionals Network and said, "This is where I want to be." Her flamboyancy and energy during the performance backed that statement up. You can tell Jackson enjoys what she does, and her stage presence alone makes it worth seeing one of the Phil's remaining shows.

Although I don't consider myself a classical music buff, I was thoroughly entertained, especially by the opening act, which featured selections from Georges Bizet's Carmen. Click here for a sampling.

Event though the pace was a little slow at times for my taste, accordion extraordinaire Peter Soave put on an amazing show playing to the music of Astor Piazolla. The night ended with a tribute to Claude Debussy and Maurice Ravel. Apparently, Jackson has a sense of humor as well. After intermission, she said to the crowd, "I wonder how many of you have been to a Latin show where two-thirds of the music is French."

Hey, it was an entertaining two hours, and that's all that matters.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

See Raphael's The Woman with the Veil through March 21

I guess I didn't truly understand the significance of what I was about to see until I greeted locked doors at the main entrance of the Nevada Museum of Art on Friday, January 8. It was after regular hours, of course, but there was a scheduled media event as far as I knew.

I made my way toward the back of the museum and came across a side door, where a security guard asked me to push a button. I explained who I was, they checked "the list," and let me in. After verifying who I was a second time, security escorted me through another set of doors. It was about this time that it sank in how monumental this really was.

Actually, when Raphael's La Donna Velata or La Velata (The Woman with the Veil), c. 1516, was transported to the museum, it was quite the production as well, according to Rachel Milon, Director of Communications and Marketing for the NMA. You would have thought Barack Obama was being escorted to the museum, given Milon's description of countless police cars—with flashing lights—and an armored car delivering the painting at 2 a.m. to its 10-week temporary home in Reno.

The painting came from Portland, will be on exhibit in Reno from January 9 through March 21, then head to Milwaukee before returning to its rightful home in Italy. As I stared at the painting during a special media preview, before the onrush of folks who had received a special VIP invite to the unveiling, so many questions came to mind: Why didn't Raphael sign this particular painting, like most artists do?—(still not sure). How was the painting transported from Italy?—(by plane, under heavy security).

Much like the Rembrandt: The Embrace of Darkness and Light exhibit that runs through January 17, Milon expects a tourist boon from the Raphael exhibit. The museum is even partnering with local casinos on special room packages.

One thing is for sure, after Friday I can tell you I have much more of an appreciation for the arts. Whether you consider yourself an art aficionado or not, this is one exhibit you want to see before it leaves Reno. For hours and contact info, click here.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Experience the “Ahh!” of Eagles & Agriculture


It has been described as a signature event in Northern Nevada’s Carson Valley. Coming into its eighth year, the Eagles and Agriculture Event has shared the wonder of agriculture and wildlife with nearly 3,600 participants. The centerpiece of the experience is found in the Saturday chartered bus tour and buffet lunch. This is where “ahh!” can be felt the greatest.

By 8 a.m. the luxury coaches are boarded with bundled participants ready to see Bald Eagles and with a little luck, the birth of a calf. The tour guides, affectionately referred to as BSers, introduce the pair of bird experts. Typically members of the Lahontan Audubon Society, the bird experts are on hand to identify avian species, discuss biology, home range, and habitat requirements. They also keep a tally of the birds spotted throughout the morning.

BSers are locals versed in history, agriculture, geography, political issues, and a fair bit of hear-say. The coach is a buzz with questions and fun facts to know and tell. We are headed to the first ranch stop to meet the rancher who has worked and cared for a piece of Carson Valley land for many years.

As the bus unloads, the bird experts set up spotting scopes aimed at prime targets, and the rancher begins to spin his story describing the agricultural livelihood. Some say the best part of the tour is “being on the private ranches and hearing their history.” Others describe the ahh! as “meeting neighbors who make this valley important.”

After the fifth ranch is visited, the last eagle, Red-tailed hawk, waterfowl, bobcat, and other occasional wildlife are spotted and recorded, and the bus heads back to the Carson Valley Inn where an unbelievable buffet lunch is being prepared. En route, the BSers help the participants select the best mooer. That’s the one that can imitate a cow or bull the best. At lunch, each bus will delegate their best to compete for the mooing contest prize, and bragging rights. Bird tallies are announced, raffled prizes are won, exhibits are visited, and new friends are made as lunch winds down. The ahh! of the Eagles & Agriculture experience is coming into view.

This year, the chartered bus tour & buffet lunch is on Saturday, February 20, starting at the Carson Valley Inn at 7:30 am. The cost is $60 per person. For reservations contact the Carson Valley Arts Council at 775-782-8207 or online at to download the registration form. For additional lodging and visitor information call the Carson Valley Visitors Authority at 775-782-8144 or toll-free at 800-727-7677.