BWW Interview: Shea Arender and THE LAS VEGAS SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA
The Las Vegas Symphony Orchestra is returning to the stage following a 13-year public absence with a new owner, Shea Arender, who will join the Orchestra this Spring with a performance entitled "The King Symphonic - The Music of Elvis Presley."
This performance marks the triumphant return of this Orchestra that had significant presence in the Las Vegas throughout the 1980's and 1990's. The legendary Engelbert Humperdinck is one of the many stars that the Orchestra supported during the height of their popularity.
Mr. Arender, who was the Executive Producer for the New York production of the Harold Arlen music review, 'The Wonderful Wizard of Song - The Music of Harold Arlen,' hopes for the orchestra to become a symphonic pop institution, and an alternative to the Las Vegas Philharmonic Orchestra, which performs exclusively classical music. Conducted by Steve Rawlins, who composed the Grammy and Emmy award presentation music, the spring performance will be the first of four scheduled performances for 2017 where the pop hits of Elvis Presley will be re-imagined with a classical overtone.
"These are new beginnings with the Las Vegas Symphony Orchestra," Mr. Arender said. "Over 40-million visitors come to Vegas to get an ultimate experience, and by re-launching the Orchestra, we are providing a new opportunity for both residents and tourists to experience a slice of culture in a fun pop environment."
Mr. Arender began his career as a singer, performing songs of the Great American Songbook as well as the Classics. He was influenced by greats including Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Ricky Nelson, Bobby Darin, and of course Elvis Presley. After 'The Wonderful Wizard of Song - The Music of Harold Arlen' opened, the Wizard of Oz composer's son, Sam Arlen invited Mr. Arender to assume the position of Associate Producer, where to this day he holds the role of Executive Producer.
Broadwayworld.com had the opportunity to interview Shea Arender about his career and The Las Vegas Symphony Orchestra.
What was your earliest interest in music?
When I was six-years old, I began listening to the oldies station, and I loved the early rock n roll music from the mid 1950s. I was fascinated with the era itself, the dress style, and the image.
Who have been some of your mentors?
My parents were my early mentors. They gave me a foundation for a good work ethic, and taught me consistency, loyalty and dedication.
Tell us about a few influential performers or performances.
Well, since most of my influences were from the 1950's and 1960's I unfortunately never got to see most them live.
I was very inspired by watching the old DVD concerts of Elvis Presley's "That's the Way It Is" live in Las Vegas, and also his 1968 comeback television special. His charisma and energy inspired me, and it helped me realize how to understand and read my audience.
Why has assuming the leadership of the orchestra been so personally significant?
With this role as the owner of the Las Vegas Symphony Orchestra, I feel that I can truly apply everything that I have learned in business, communication and music. I have a big responsibility but I'm looking forward to all the challenges and successes.
It is exiting to have a Symphony in Las Vegas. I feel that its personally significant because not only do I feel that I represent the orchestra, but I also can help represent the city of Las Vegas and its tourists who want to see quality musicians and a great show.
What innovations can audiences expect from The Las Vegas Symphony Orchestra?
We will concentrate on Symphonic pop music - so audiences can expect to hear the music of Queen, Elvis and Motown during the Symphony Pops series. Our first performance, that will take place this Spring and will focus on the music of Elvis and is called, "The King Symphonic - The Music of Elvis Presley."
Classical will not be at the forefront but we plan on incorporating some Beethoven, Chopin and Vivaldi. The exploration into movie themes is also being strongly discussed, as one of my goals is to mix modern pop music from movie soundtracks with an element of classical. The "Fifty Shades" trilogy is the first one to be discussed.
Anything else, absolutely anything you want BWW readers to know.
The "Las Vegas Symphony Orchestra" will definitely be involved in charitable efforts and organizations across the USA and will expand globally. We will also be involved in a variety of community outreach at home.
Dates, times and location will be announced as performances are scheduled. For additional information, please visit the website at: www.lasvegassymphonyorchestra.com.
Photo Credit: Shea Arender