The Hershey Theatre, conceived in 1933 by noted philanthropist and chocolatier Milton S. Hershey, stands as an opulent tribute to the performing arts. Taking architectural cues from Saint Mark’s Basilica in Venice, the foyer’s towering arches gleam with golden paint and crystal chandeliers. The blue-and-gold mosaic that leads to the main seating area is the masterwork of two German artists who spent two years on its construction. Once inside the theater, audiences might think they’ve stepped onto the streets of Venice thanks to the atmospheric ceiling, stonework facades, and gondoliers paddling them to their seats. ####Bethel Woods Center for the Arts Music has permeated the 800 manicured acres where the Bethel Woods Center for the Arts has stood since 1969, when farmer Max Yasgur agreed to let love, peace, and harmony grow wild at the very first Woodstock festival. These days, the renowned outdoor venue and cultural center continues to attract the biggest acts in music to its pavilion stage. The open-air design ensures ample ventilation on the natural sloping lawn, and a roof protects up to 15,000 fans from inclement weather and the prying eyes of Cessna pilots.
Las Vegas doesn't necessarily have a reputation for high culture, but the founders of the Las Vegas Philharmonic showed they were serious from their very first concert. In 1999, the orchestra debuted with Mahler's Resurrection Symphony, a demanding work with unusual instrumentation that can stretch up to 90 minutes in length. "As far as we know, this is the largest staging of a classical music piece in the city's history," cofounder Harold Weller told the Review-Journal of the 260-musician production. In the decade-plus since then, the Philharmonic has continued its record of accessible ambition with a pops series, live accompaniment to silent films, and collaborations with superstars such as Sarah Brightman, Placido Domingo, and Andrea Bocelli.
In 2012, the orchestra moved into The Smith Center, a brand new cultural center built from 2,458 tons of Indiana limestone and crowned by an art-deco-style carillon tower that holds 47 bells. Inside the theater, streamlined chandeliers evoke 1920s elegance, and a wide, palm-tree-flanked lawn frames the massive building with enough space for outdoor spectacles and double dates with other orchestras.