Las Vegas Sinfonietta had been planning to celebrate Mozart in its next performance, originally set to coincide with the composer’s birthday in January before it was postponed due to COVID. And then, after it was rescheduled for March 13, something far more significant happened, artistic director Taras Krysa explains.
“It is important, for me personally, to acknowledge the events that are happening in Ukraine right now,” says Krysa, who is Ukrainian, as is his wife, Nataliya Karachentseva, a violinist in the group. “I want to bring awareness to Ukrainian music and Ukrainian composers.”
So in addition to Mozart, the Sinfonietta’s upcoming concert will include a piece by Ukrainian composer Maxim Berezovsky, who lived from 1745 to 1777. “The power of music speaks directly to your mind and to your heart and your soul without language and without picture,” Krysa says. “That’s the magic of it.”
A sinfonietta is a small symphony orchestra, a perfect fit for the Vegas version’s approximately 30-member group, which includes musicians ranging from full-time professionals to UNLV students. A few members include cellist Svetlana Garitselov, choir director for All Saints Russian Orthodox Church; oboist Richard Kravchak, Dean of the School of Arts and Letters at CSN; and Jason Bonham, principal viola player for the Las Vegas Philharmonic.
Krysa also serves as director of orchestras at UNLV. “I really like him as a conductor,” Garitselov says. “He works on every detail … and I think because we are all passionate musicians, the result is going to be amazing,”
The group came together during the pandemic, which made performing difficult, to say the least. Josh Herrington, then-director of music for New Song Lutheran Church in Henderson, offered Krysa a chance to partake in a streaming concert series the church was producing.
“At first it was kind of whoever wanted to perform,” says Herrington, who plays piano with the Sinfonietta. “From there it started to grow. We’re still kind of in an evolution phase—getting bigger and bigger.”
The Sinfonietta’s March 13 concert at Clark County Library will feature Mozart’s final three symphonies—39, 40 and 41—composed in 1788, three years before his death. The orchestra has another performance, featuring music by Shostakovich and contemporary composer John Adams, lined up for April 24 in the same room.
Krysa predicts the Sinfonietta’s repertoire and musicians will help set it apart as it gains momentum. “My focus is to highlight local talent,” he says. “I’m trying to be as inclusive as possible—because we have a big family of musicians in this town—and highlight the repertoire that is not performed here. The third component is to bring it to as many possible audiences.”