Music Since 1975!


1975 - The Sunset Symphony is born

Co-founded by Dr. Barry Barkin and Dr. Harold Boyce

An after-school program for outstanding classical instrumentalists

for the Clark County School District (CCSD.)


Mike Allard

String Coordinator of CCSD

Director of the Sunset Symphony through 1987. 

1981 – The Symphony travels to Flagstaff to perform & hike with instruments into the 1 – mile marker at the Grand Canyon and played there, on a ledge in 90 degree heat. 

1983 – 58-piece symphony orchestra travels to Suffern, NY(north of New York City); programs expands to include 130 students in three graduated steps:  “Beginning”  (B), “Sunset Intermediate” (A) and “Sunset Symphony” (Advanced) levels.

1984 – The orchestra program is recognized by ASTA (American String Teachers Association) as a national model program.

Sunset Symphony Program

November 15, 1984

Senior High School Honor Orchestra

UNLV Choir

Sunset Symphony Program

December 13, 1984

Sahara Hotel

Congo Room

1985 – Now with 92 strings

 the orchestra travels to Mexico City and competes in the

Fiesta Musicale Mexicana

(International Youth Orchestra Competition)

and wins the Bronze Medal

Director Mike Allard triumphs in a bullfight!

1986 – New Orleans on the Mississippi River

Performance on the “President” 

the largest and most prestigious of all riverboats

in its’ 400 foot ballroom

and performed jazz concerts with the

New Orleans All-City (Youth) Orchestra. 





Sunset Symphony

rehearses and performs

at the old Showboat Hotel

Judy Moore

Showboat Manager



Sunset Symphony

Showboat Casino


Click agreement to enlarge

1986 - The Symphony performs

for over 500 guests at the

Allied Arts Council’s Masque Ball Fundraiser


Spring Concert – Received national recognition with a commendation for excellence in education with business partnerships from US Secretary of Education, William Bennett, including personal thanks from President Reagan.

1987 – Mid-April, the Symphony takes their “big trip” to Hawaii

to perform at the Waikiki Shell and at Pearl Harbor Visitor’s Center.


Mike Allard leaves Las Vegas


In an exit interview with Hank Greenspun, Allard asks Las Vegas to "look out for his program" because the students were going to need all the help they could get to continue their pursuits.


He wistfully states that he wishes they could have toured the Orient.

1988 – Friends of the Sunset Symphony (non-profit) incorporates.  Mike Allard receives an invitation to conduct at Carnegie Hall for Isaac Stern’s Foundation (ISF).  The 100+ symphony was one of the first to perform there.  ISG was Stern’s dream to save the historic Carnegie Hall by creating a “debut house” and invite the best and brightest to play.  The City of Las Vegas forms a partnership with the Sunset Symphony.  The Symphony starts rehearsing at the Reed Whipple Cultural Center. 

Road trip
Outdoor rehearsal_string basses
Outdoor rehearsal_hotel grounds
Outdoor rehearsal_percussion
Road trip_enjoying nature
Outdoor rehearsal_tuba
Road trip_park relaxation

1988 - Orchestra trip to San Diego Ca photos  

1991 – The program’s name is changed to

Las Vegas Youth Orchestras (LVYO).


LVYO develops into four tiered orchestra groups.

1997 - Orchestra trip to Flagstaff AZ photos

Flagstaff 1997_Cello and Basses
Flagstaff 1997_Karl Reinarz conductor
Flagstaff 1997_Hotel pool
Flagstaff 1997_So this is snow
Flagstaff 1997_Strings and Tuba
Flagstaff 1997_Road Trip_coming home
Flagstaff 1997_Good friends
Flagstaff 1997_Basses with cello
Flagstaff 1997_In rehearsal
Flagstaff 1997_something about the cups.
Flagstaff 1997_Fun on the bus
Flagstaff 1997_Two-stepping
Flagstaff 1997_Dress rehearsal

2002 – LVYO’s First significant fundraiser occurs at Spring Mountain Ranch with Super Summer Theatre

2005 – Orchestra program is awarded a grant for a set of four new timpani from Mr. Holland’s Opus Foundation.  LVYO’s two top orchestras are granted a residency by the touring National Symphony Orchestra (NSO) based in Washington, D.C., accomplished through collaboration with the Las Vegas Philharmonic. 

2006 – The Youth Philharmonic (Directed by Karl Reinarz) collaborates with Tucson Youth Philharmonia (Directed by Suzette Battan) in a side-by-side concert of Bolero by Ravel,  

performed onstage by over 200 young musicians.  LVYO is awarded its first grant from the Nevada Arts Council. 

2007 – LVYO’s concert program, logo, and promotional campaign undergo a facelift, thanks to the state arts council’s grant support.

2008 – Youth Philharmonic (Directed by Charles A. Jackson) launches its inaugural tour overseas to Salzburg, Vienna and Prague – performing at world-class venues with a 55-piece orchestra.  LVYO participates in “Daniel Pearl World Music Days” a global network of music celebrations during the month of October.  Musicians around the world join “Harmony for Humanity” – a tribute event to Daniel Pearl and his belief in the power of music to tear down walls and build bridges among all people.  (This tribute becomes an annual tradition for LVYO’s fall concerts.)

2009 – Nevada Arts Council award LVYO the 29th Annual Governor’s Arts Award in Leadership in Arts Education.  The State of Nevada shows the first signs of economic duress and executes a sweep of deep budget cuts which affect arts and education.  The Youth Philharmonic transitions to an independent entity operated and funded by their non-profit, Friends of Las Vegas Youth Orchestras, now incurring financial responsibly of staff positions.  New structure entails appointment of Executive Director position, instructional staff of LVYO’s three other groups continues to be subsidized by the school district.  Fund-raising for Tour 2011 commences. 

2010 – The nation and state of Nevada are caught in the web of an economic recession.  Further state budget cuts require LVYO to change strategies for future survival.  Additional collaborations and partners with community become essential components to forge vision and paths of longevity into reality. 

2011 – The Youth Philharmonic goes to China for their second overseas tour.  What was once a dream for Dr. Allard the Youth Orchestras – now becomes reality!

2012 – The Las Vegas Youth Orchestras hosts a summer Brass Boot Camp with guest artist Sam Pilafian and J. D. Shaw.

2013 – The Las Vegas Youth Orchestras receives a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts and brings in artist Alpin Hong to facilitate and performs a concert at the Henderson Pavilion.  The Summer Brass Boot Camp is brought back after a successful first year.

2014 – Without an Executive Director in place, the board stepped in to run the daily operations to better understand the position needs and what qualifications will be needed to re-organize and excel the programming.

2015 – The Board fills the vacancy of the Executive Director with Doug Van Gilder, former finance and orchestra manager for the Las Vegas Philharmonic.


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