No one is more aware than the new Executive Director of the Las Vegas Philharmonic, that being an instrument of change often requires marching to the beat of a different drum. Having recognized that the classical concert experience in Las Vegas needs a slightly modified perception and a fresh identity, she is facing the music with a novel contemporary vision. And it’s one that she hopes will result in an increased tugging on the community heart strings where an attraction to classical music is concerned.
Moving to the city from Los Angeles, Huszcza (pronounced Hoo-shuh) joined the Las Vegas Philharmonic on December 1 and was recognized on Musical America’s sixth annual “Top 30 Professionals” list that same month, She had spent the last 13 years of her career with the esteemed Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra (LACO) as an integral team member and leader serving multiple departments and initiatives across fundraising, community outreach, patron engagement and strategic partnerships and programs. During her tenure, she also served as the organization’s interim managing director for a period in 2015. Her goal now is to make the Las Vegas Philharmonic, just winding up its 20th year anniversary, a signature experience that highlights the exclusive attributes of culture in Las Vegas.
“I want to make this the kind of experience that’s unique to Las Vegas and what the city is and give classical music an identity,” Huszcza enthuses. “That means bringing some key hallmark orchestral moments to the city. The Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra celebrated its 50th anniversary last year so it had a long time to establish itself and its place in L.A.. I’m excited to be part of shaping what the future of the Las Vegas Philharmonic is going to be. “
“I am a big believer in arts collaboration,” she adds. “For example, theoretically, I am hoping to do a collaboration with First Friday. We have a piece of music called ‘Pictures in an Exhibition,’ written by Modest Mussorgsky in 1874, which is in-between by classical music standards. We could have a pianist doing a solo version in an art studio in the Arts District or outside on the street in September.”
Huszcza also lists Nevada Ballet Theater and the Neon Museum among the entities she would like to collaborate with. For the latter, she envisions a possible chamber music concert in tandem with the museum’s Tim Burton Art Exhibition. With a Danny Elfman concert planned for the upcoming season that runs from September 2019 through May 2020 and Elfman being the composer for a lot of Tim Burton’s movies, including “The Nightmare Before Christmas,” she sees a great synergy there.
“You have to do enough things to stay on people’s radar,” Huszcza acknowledges. “We will be doing nine concerts this coming season and they will be a combination of Vegas experience; all-movie selections as in the Danny Elfman concert; and some big classical standards such as Symphony No. 4 (Tchaikovsky), Symphony No. 4 (Beethoven) and Symphony No. 9 (Beethoven). We’ll also be doing Kurt Weill music. For the Vegas experience, we will go back to old Las Vegas, which plays into some of the Rat Pack music, and we’ll feature some of the local talent, showing the other side of pop Strip entertainment.”
By presenting enjoyable concerts of music familiar to people, Huszcza hopes to take away some of the intimidation of the classical music experience — which she maintains is more about not recognizing the music, not knowing how to dress, or not knowing when to clap than about the music itself — and will encourage them to try something they are not as familiar with.
“I think that people can get connected to all types of music,” she sums up. “I think there is classical music that appeals to everybody — our 80 musicians and the depth of the sound the combination of instruments make can draw out emotion in a single phrase. I want to create a program that appeals to all demographics and allows them to feel part of our musical community and family. I think that Las Vegas has the potential of being one of the cultural gems in this country, just like L.A. and other places.”