Outside of the glitz of the Christmas-New Year entertainment being offered in nearly every hotel-casino in northern Nevada and Northern California, a huge attraction of another kind takes place with the Nevada Chamber Music Festival, the ninth annual gathering in Reno of acclaimed musicians from around the world.
This event gradually has gained international significance, due largely to Reno Chamber Orchestra director Theodore Kuchar's ability to draw top artists. Kuchar also conducts the Fresno Philharmonic, Janacek Philharmonic and the Orquesta Sinfonica de Venezuela.
This year, Kuchar has snared the likes of James Buswell and Los Angeles Symphony concertmaster Martin Chalifour on violin; Boston University professor and piano soloist Ya-Fei Chuang; and three principal Cleveland Orchestra players: violist Robert Vernon, cellist Mark Kosower and clarinetist Franklin Cohen. Also playing piano and delivering a lecture on "Composing Mozart" (at noon Thursday at the South Reno Methodist Church) is Harvard professor Robert Levin.
The concerts are too many to list but include such diverse offerings as an all-Debussy 150th birthday celebration at 7 p.m. Wednesday (Nightingale Concert Hall, University of Nevada); a string of afternoon sonata programs, and Masterwork concerts every day Dec. 28-31 (7 p.m., but the Dec. 30 concert will be at 3 p.m.). The New Year's Eve concert (7 p.m. at Nightingale) will end a day highlighted by an 11 a.m. "aficionados concert" and a 2 p.m. "piano extravaganza."
Festival passes are $180 or $40 for students, and individual concert prices range from $20 to $30 ($5 for students) at (775) 348-9413 or RenoChamberOrchestra.org.
Out and about
Tickets often come at a premium for holiday shows in the casinos, so it's wise to plan ahead. But the days of big-name stars in every showroom for New Year's Eve at astronomical prices seem thankfully to be no more, and shows are booked to appeal to just about every taste.
Thunder Valley has the biggest lineup of all, commencing with Jo Koy, the comedian often seen on "Chelsea Lately," appearing tonight (8:30 p.m.; $39.50, $49.50, $59.50; thundervalleycasino.com); a big concert from the islands with Willie K, Frank Delima and the Kakane Brothers Saturday (8:30 p.m.; $29.50, $39.50); R&B favorite Brian McKnight on Dec. 28 (8:30 p.m.; $45.50, $59.50); popular swing band Big Bad Voodoo Daddy on Dec. 29 (8:30 p.m.; $39.50, $49.50, $59.50); classic rock with Air Supply on Dec. 30 (8:30 p.m.; $49.50, $59.50); and a brass attack New Year's Eve with Tower of Power (10:30 p.m.; $54.50, $67.50).
Cache Creek starts off with Pink Floyd tribute band House of Floyd Saturday (8 p.m.; $20 or free with club card) and brings Tommy Castro to the showroom with his band The Painkillers on Dec. 29 (7:30 p.m.; $20 or free with club card; cachecreek.com).
John Ascuaga's Nugget has Billy Gardell, star of "Mike and Molly," on Dec. 29 (9 p.m.; $46.90); the Saddle Tramps for their annual holiday-season appearance Dec. 30 (9 p.m.; $19.50); and will bring in 2013 with The Fixx (10 p.m.; $41.50; janugget.com).
Harrah's Tahoe offers the Moscow Ballet's "Great Russian Nutcracker" tonight (8 p.m.; $85.50); Asleep at the Wheel Saturday (7:30 p.m.; $41.80); a teaming of two leaders of their own bands, Karl Denson of Tiny Universe and Robert Randolph of the Family Band, on Dec. 28 (7 p.m.; $49.50) and "The Ultimate Tribute" to the Beatles, Fab Four, on Dec. 29 (7:30 p.m.; $44; all Ticketmaster).
The Grand Sierra has launched into tribute land as well with "Red Hot Superstars," featuring impressions of Madonna, Lady Gaga, Carrie Underwood, Prince and more, playing at 9 p.m. Saturday and Sunday and Dec. 26-31. ($12, $15, $25).
Hypnotist Anthony Cools, a regular visitor to the Grand Sierra, performs his "Uncensored" show tonight (9 p.m.; $20; http://grandsierraresort.com).
Boomtown, Reno Events Center: Lee Rocker of the Stray Cats, Dec. 29. (800) 648-3790.
Carson Valley Inn Cabaret Lounge: Jo Mama, Friday-Saturday; Scott Helmer, Monday-Tuesday; Dale Poune, Wednesday-Thursday; After Dark, next Friday-Dec. 31; the Motifs, Jan. 3-5; Paul Covarelli, Jan. 7-9; Elvis Week with Brian Andrews, Jan. 10-12. . (775) 782-9711.
Eldorado, Reno Showroom: "Aladdin and His Lamp," Tuesdays- Sundays, through Jan. 13; "Magique," Tuesdays-Sundays, Jan. 22-April 14. (800) 648-5966.
Harrah's Reno Sammy's Showroom: The Magic of Eli Kerr, Fridays-Saturdays, through Feb. 23. The Stage @ the Zone: Buddy Emmer Band, today-Saturday; Audioboxx, next Friday-Dec. 31; Chaparral, Jan. 4-5. (800) 427-7247.
Harrah's Lake Tahoe South Shore Room: Moscow Ballet's Great Russian Nutcracker, today; Asleep at the Wheel, Saturday; Robert Randolph & the Family Band, Karl Denson's Tiny Universe, next Friday; the Fab Four, Dec. 29; Tainted Love, Jan. 5; Jonny Lang, Jan. 12; (800) 427-7247.
Horizon, Lake Tahoe Illusion Fusion starring Alex Ramon, Thursdays-Tuesdays. (775) 588-6211.
Silver Legacy, Reno Grand Exposition Hall: Gary Allan, Dec. 30; Elvis and Friends, Jan. 4-5; Gabriel Iglesias, Jan. 12; Jay Leno, Jan. 25. (800) 687-8733.