Conductor Matt Catingub brings the Rat Pack era to generation iPhone

Matt Catingub, who conducted the Las Vegas Philharmonic last July, returns to Reynolds Hall April 5.
Photo: Tommy Ewasko

When your mother is jazz singer Mavis Rivers, and you’ve taken up several musical instruments and conducted your first orchestra at age 15, your path might seem destined for a career in big band and jazz. You might even perform regularly with Rosemary Clooney, work with Dianne Reeves on a Grammy Award-winning album and serve as artistic director for three different pops orchestras.

That’s how the story played out for Matt Catingub, who conducts the Las Vegas Philharmonic for the second time this weekend in Love Vintage Vegas Style at the Smith Center, a pops concert featuring music from the Rat Pack era arranged and charted by Catingub, who has a personal connection to the time and place. His mom, “Polynesia’s first lady of song,” opened the lounge at the original MGM Grand, he says, and recorded on Frank Sinatra’s record label.

Catingub’s not the type to wave a conductor’s wand from the podium. He’s known to throw himself all in. This weekend he’ll sing and play saxophone and piano. Joining him as guest artists will be vocalist Anita Hall and drummer Steve Moretti.

“It’s a show I’ve done around the world,” says Catingub, who moved to Las Vegas five years ago and conducted the Philharmonic for its July 4 concert featuring Clint Holmes and Kristen Hertzenberg. “It’s a musical honor of what was happening then.”

Leading large pops orchestras is part of his agenda to re-present the music as fun and accessible and even reach broader audiences, including, he says, a generation that can’t fully experience the largesse of a 65-piece orchestra on its iPhones. He’s also known for arranging pops-style music to give equal weight to all voices, rather than just the headliner. “It’s very important for me to feature the orchestra in all of my concerts and not just as an afterthought. It gives them a chance to shine.”

Love Vintage Vegas Style April 5, 7:30 p.m., $25-$94. Smith Center’s Reynolds Hall, 749-2000.

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