By: Hal de Becker



Nostrosound (‘our sound’) is a quartet of South American musicians that enjoyed a resounding success recently at Winchester Cultural Center.  The players were masters of a variety of instruments including flutes, guitars, drums, violin and more, and they all sang as well.


Their repertoire spanned time and space with traditional festive works and others that are thousands of years old from Peru, Bolivia, Paraguay, Chile, Ecuador, Cuba, Mexico, Argentina, the Andes mountains and the Amazon river.


The subjects of some compositions ranged from love to smuggling but always with an optimistic approach even when a broken heart was involved.  An important musical influence on many of the works was attributed to African slaves brought to the continent centuries ago.




The ancient songs were dedicated to nature and included one about the huge mysterious lines carved onto a high Andean plateau that many, including respected author Erich Von Daniken, believe had once provided landing directions for alien space craft.


The leader and founder of Nosotrosound is Hector Flavio Martinez a graduate of Mexico’s illustrious Universidad de Guadalajara.  Among the varied instruments he played were ten multi-barreled, primitive wooden flutes joined together and cut to different lengths to produce highs and lows.  He’d slide them across his lips to play them like a harmonica and the sound he created was beautiful and exotic. 


Percussionist Antonio Pazos attended Mexico’s University of Sonora School of Fine Arts.  He lives in Tucson, Arizona where he received a scholarship at ASU.  He’s played with numerous Latin Jazz bands.  Carlos Urtubey plays guitar and charango an instrument resembling a banjo.  He was drawn to Andean music as a teenager in Bolivia.  He studies music therapy at ASU.  David Seleme, percussionist, violinist and charango player, has performed with well-known music groups from Peru, Ecuador and Bolivia.



Hollywood’s silver screen may seem an unlikely source for operatic inspiration but it recently worked its magic on the singers of Sin City Opera (SCO). 


SCO’s stated goal is to “…bring opera to Las Vegas audiences.”  With its latest program, “Opera in the Movies,” it also succeeded in bringing audiences to the opera.


Everyone seems to enjoy movies and by performing operatic selections seen in some popular films SCO drew a capacity audience of newcomers as well as experienced opera buffs to the City of Las Vegas’ Charleston Heights Arts Center.     


The program consisted of selected arias, duets and ensembles by Verdi, Puccini, Bizet, Donizetti, Leoncavallo, Mozart and more.  Thankfully, there was no electronic amplification (the singers didn’t need any) nor were there any sets, costumes or props. 

The seven talented singers and Voltaire Verzosa’s sensitive piano accompaniment were more than enough to satisfy the enthusiastic audience.


Athena Mertes, Molly McLaughlin, Alex Mendoza, Ginger Land-Van Burren, Matthew Kirchner, Craig Thomas, Marcie Ley

The only ‘extras’ were film clips projected onto the backdrop which to me were an annoying distraction from the artists singing their hearts out beneath them.  However, as probably intended, they may have enhanced the program’s theme and been appreciated by some of the patrons.


The operatic selections were performed with some ringing tones, bright highs, nuanced phrasing, agile coloratura and dramatic intensity.  Everyone in the audience probably had his or her own favorite moments.  Mine was Marcie Ley’s performance of two arias, one from Madama Butterfly the other La Wally. 


SCO’s new season commences November 13th with five performances of Menotti’s The Consul.  On February 12th Mozart’s Cosi Fan Tuti begins a six performance run as does Offenbach’s La Perichole on May 6th.  All performances take place at Clark County’s Winchester Cultural Center.  More information is at www.sincityopera.com.



The career of budding ballerina, Bella Schleiker seems ready to bloom.


Bella is a native of Las Vegas but has been a live-in-scholarship-student at the renowned Academy of Boston Ballet since 2014.


While preparing to enter the academy’s pre-professional ballet program this fall she received the exciting and unexpected news that the ‘powers that be’ at Boston Ballet had decided she could skip the final pre-professional level and move directly into the professional company as a trainee.


In addition to scholarships from Boston Ballet, American Ballet Theatre, Kirov Academy Washington D.C. and Nevada Ballet Theatre, Bella has also been the recipient of numerous awards for her academic accomplishments; she recently graduated high school a year early.


Before moving to Boston Ballet’s academy she studied locally at the Kwak Ballet Academy, NBT’s academy and Nevada School of Dance, all outstanding sources of ballet  training as attested to by Bella’s own progress.                       


Much of her ballet training in Las Vegas concentrated on the Russian Vaganova system. However, at Boston Ballet the Balanchine method is emphasized, so now Bella’s skills encompass two of the world’s most highly respected ballet disciplines.       



The last time I saw her dance she was a gifted young teenager in a master class I taught for Las Vegas Ballet Company.  Like many others who know and admire Bella and her dedicated parents I look forward to soon be seeing her perform with Boston Ballet and other celebrated dance companies.