'This city is literally the Wild West of the Arts and that’s why I love it'
By Melissa Gill | Las Vegas, NV | The Industrial
De Ann Letourneau, one of the few women Concertmasters in the U.S. and the Concertmaster of the Las Vegas Philharmonic for over 22 years, is a passionate violinist living in Las Vegas with her husband and three daughters. She’s performed with some of the most popular musicians of today, from local talents such as Frankie Moreno to Motown legends like Smokey Robinson to traveling, recording and performing with Resorts World headliner Celine Dion. Her resume is impressive.
With a warm voice bursting with enthusiasm, the talented artist shares her top five favorite music composers, top four favorite stages, top three Vegas hangouts, two dream music collaborations and one piece of advice for aspiring musicians based in Sin City.
Five Favorite Music Composers
My fifth would be Brahms’ “Fourth Symphony,” actually any of his symphonies. I like it because I really feel like Brahms is one of the first composers to really start grasping the entire set of brass. The are so emotionally powerful and lush beautiful scores that I don’t know anyone who doesn’t love Brahms.
Pyotr IIyich Tchaikovsky
I would say fourth anything [by] Tchaikovsky like “Romeo and Juliet.” Tchaikovsky is fun. For a violinist, it’s so much fun to play. It’s really fast. It’s really tricky. It’s like riding a roller coaster. It’s fun and exciting for the audience to listen to and it’s fun and exciting for us to play it.
It’s not any particular composer, but a genre of female composers. I feel strong about it. Not only female modern composers. I am working on a piece by Florence Price. She is one of the first Black female composers back in the same time as Gershwin. She lived in Chicago for a while and New Orleans. The influence is a lot of jazz with creole. It’s so cool. Her music is phenomenal.
The Las Vegas Philharmonic is working on really showcasing all the female composers. We aren’t only showcasing the standards, but looking at modern, living composers.
Mozart had a sister who was probably more of a prodigy than he was. And they are starting to see that maybe she actually composed some of his compositions. Because she at the time was female and not allowed to do that. They actually find that she’s the one who taught Mozart. I have a big goal to add female composers to this list.
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
It’s hard. To me I would say that Mozart’s “Requiem” is probably one of my favorite pieces of all time. Mozart is one of my favorite composers because everything he does is so effortless and light and fun. It’s very relaxing to listen to. That’s why people say they study to Mozart. It’s non-intrusive. The “Requiem” is one of the only pieces he wrote before he died. He died before he finished it. And the “Requiem” is basically a funeral mass. It’s so profound and heart wrenching.
Johann Sebastian Bach
My last composer is Johann Sebastian Bach because he’s really the reason why I think every composer gains their knowledge from that body of work. What Bach did was so forward thinking that in his 1600s mind. He structured the chords the way they weren’t done until we got past the 1900s that even surpassed Beethoven and Brahms. They play beautiful chords, but Bach does these dissonances and clashes on purpose. He was a bit of a rebel ‘cause he was a church organist.
four Favorite Stages
She has performed on stages all over the world, but here are some of her favorite places to play for an audience.
Fever Candlelight stage at The Industrial
Fever of the Candlelight stage. I love it. It ‘s super fun. It’s a really cool concept and I feel close to the audience.
The Colosseum inside Caesars Palace
I was on stage at Caesars Palace with Celine [Dion] for so many years. I love that stage and I love the energy. And now moving to Resorts World. That’s a new stage we haven’t seen that yet.
The Hollywood Bowl in Los Angeles
The [next] would be The Hollywood Bowl because I’ve been there with [Andrea] Bocelli and with the Hollywood Bowl orchestra. It’s almost as iconic as Carnegie Hall, but it’s our west coast version of it. Anytime you walk out on stage it takes your breath away looking out on the audience. It’s just gorgeous.
The Smith Center Las Vegas
Number one is the Smith Center because Reynolds Hall is just literally, I’ve played in so many halls in my life around the world, one of the greatest halls in the world. And if you haven’t been there, find some way to get there. That’s my second home.
Three Favorite Vegas Hangouts
Vitner Grill near Summerlin
I love, love, love Vintner Grill. It’s very fancy.
Myron’s at The Smith Center
I love to go to Myron’s at The Smith Center next door to Reynolds Hall. It’s the smaller hall. And that’s where all of these local, really great bands [play]. It’s a big social thing. One of my favorite things is the Composers Showcase. It’s all the local talent. The only rule they have at the Composers Showcase is that it has to be an original, made by you. Like you can’t go up there and sing a cover by Elvis. It’s all the best players and singers and actors in town. It’s always late because everybody is finishing their shows.
Monzu near the Strip
It’s the best Italian, best pizza. My friend is the owner, Gio. He’s also a singer. His wife’s a jazz singer. Cool hang bar area. Lots of professional musicians hang out there. It’s a mix of people. On Saturday nights, they have a jazz trio. He has a special recipe for his bread that’s unbelievable.
Two Dream Music Collaborations
I would love to collaborate with Billie Eilish. I just think she’s so cool. I think she just embodies the modern artist. I just love self expression and the way she tells a story with her work. I keep thinking I want to write to her and say, ‘You really need some strings up there. That would be really cool.’
One that I would love to perform with is BTS. They are so cool. [For] kind of the same reason, but different. The reason I just think they are amazing is everything from their messaging, [saying] ‘It’s okay just to be you.’ They’re all close like family. They stick together and write together. I love the team effort they put into their music. I would love to throw some strings on some of what they have, too.
BTS are huge fans of Celine. I was always hoping that they would come backstage and watch but they never did in the time I was there.
One Piece of Advice for Aspiring Musicians in Las Vegas
If music is your passion, no matter how many Nos you get or if you’re feeling like you don’t know where to start, don’t quit. Don’t let somebody say you can’t do it, it’s never been done.
One of the reasons I came to Las Vegas is because in this city there’s no such thing as it’s not possible. Because in all the world I have traveled, I have never met a nicer and more helpful group of people willing to help out young people to get started in some of their dreams.
You get to New York, you get to L.A. and people are so competitive that if you are really good they don’t want to lose their job so they are not going to help you generally. But Las Vegas is like ‘C’mon and sit with the band!’ I love this community of artists. This city is literally the Wild West of the Arts and that’s why I love it.
On October 12, watch De Ann Letourneau perform at “Candlelight: A Haunted Evening of Classical Compositions” at The Industrial. For tickets, visit Feverup.com.