top of page

Our Mission
& Our History

Uniting talented young musicians since 1975

2006 Logo_edited.png

Las Vegas Youth Orchestra

Our Mission

The Mission of the “Las Vegas Youth Orchestras” is to provide the youth in the community (regardless of race, creed, economic circumstances, gender or national origin) an opportunity to expand their musical skills and engage them both intellectually and physically, by committing their time and energy in preparing and performing in an orchestral setting. Students performing excellent music for the community serve as examples of academic and musical excellence and improve the community by offering cultural enrichment.


The Sunset Symphony is born

​Co-founded by Dr. Barry Barkin and Dr. Harold Boyce​An after-school program for outstanding classical instrumentalistsfor the Clark County School District (CCSD.)

Mike Allard, String Coordinator of CCSD, ​Director of the Sunset Symphony through 1987.

Michael Allard_Sunset Symphony Conductor.webp
Sunset logo_1.webp


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.




The 58-piece symphony orchestra travels to Suffern, NY (north of New York City).​The program now expands to include 130 students in three graduated steps:​ 


“Sunset Beginning”  - “Sunset Intermediate”  -  “Sunset Symphony” (Advanced) levels.




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

Sunset Symphony


November 15, 1984

Senior High School Honor


UNLV Choir


Sunset Symphony


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.

Judy Moore_Showboat Manager_Sunset Symph

  1986 - Sunset Symphony

rehearses and performs

at the old Showboat Hotel

Judy Moore: Showboat Manager

Sunset Symphony and The Showboard Casino

Sunset Symphony

Showboat Casino



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.

Hawii Trip_Lt. Gov Cayetano letter.jpg


Friends of the Sunset Symphony

(non-profit) incorporates. 

Articles of Incorporation

Friends of the Sunset Symphony Association

Filed Nov 22, 1988

1988 -  Carnegie Hall Concert


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. 


1991 – The program’s name is changed to

Las Vegas Youth Orchestras  -  (LVYO).

 LVYO develops into four tiered orchestra groups.

LVYO logo.png

1997 - Orchestra trip to Flagstaff AZ photos

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.)

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. 

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 for 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.

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

bottom of page