Carson symphony director, jazz pianist defies classification

BRAD HORN/Nevada Appeal David Bugli warms up on his piano in his Carson City home on Thursday. Bugli received a Governor's Arts Award for Distinguished Service to the Arts.

BRAD HORN/Nevada Appeal David Bugli warms up on his piano in his Carson City home on Thursday. Bugli received a Governor's Arts Award for Distinguished Service to the Arts.

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David Bugli says he is a failure at categorization, at least when it comes to his music.

The man who is being honored with a Governor's Arts Award for Distinguished Service to the Arts, performs both symphonic and jazz and likes to shake things up with Mark Twain, American Indian singers and myriad combinations of musical art.

"I've got one foot in each realm," he said, but added, "Building an orchestra, that is my proudest accomplishment and task."

Bugli is being recognized for his many contributions to the Carson City cultural scene, including forming the Carson City Symphony in 1984, and serving as its conductor and music director.

The Carson City Symphony Association governs both the symphony and the Carson City Chamber Singers, a group of 30 that performs two shows annually with the orchestra and one on its own, Bugli said. The symphony is also known for performing works of emerging artists and sponsoring Strings in the Schools, an after-school program in the Carson City School District.

Bugli also serves as keyboardist and director of the Mile High Jazz Band, which he founded in 1988. Ten years later, he organized the Carson Arts Coalition, and he created an annual summer Jazz Festival in 2004.

The symphony and the jazz band have participated in Continental Harmony, a national millennium project of the American Composers Forum and the National Endowment for the Arts.

Bugli said his first part in the Continental Harmony was a performance of "A Land of Sage and Sun," composed by Jim Cockey and performed by the symphony and others in Fallon and Carson City.

"The project was to commission the work, assemble the performers, and perform the work," Bugli said.

He called "A Land of Sage and Sun" the most satisfying work he's done in music.

"We engaged so many different styles of performing," he said. The symphony performance included a American Indian singer, actor McAvoy Lane portraying Mark Twain, poets, narrators and an actress portraying a pioneer reading from a journal.

"It was very interesting putting that project together because everything was so different," Bugli said.

With the Mile High Jazz Band, he performed "Building from the Past," which featured performances of works by New York composer Lisa DeSpain done by the symphony; and Bella Voce, a women's singing group from Reno.

The works were performed in historic buildings in five counties: the Bartley Ranch in Reno, the Brewery Arts Center in Carson City, the Oats Park Art Center in Fallon, the Jeanne Dini Cultural Center in Yerington and Piper's Opera House in Virginia City.

Now Bugli is working on a project with Lane, writing a musical about Mark Twain in Virginia City called "Bohemian of the Sagebrush."

"It's about a young Sam Clements becoming Mark Twain," he said. "But it's hard to find the time to finish it up."

Bugli, who has been married 23 years and has two stepchildren and two grandchildren, came to Nevada from New York, via New England and Virginia. He's given a lot to music in Carson City, but said he would like to see one more thing - another theater.

"One of the things we don't have is a good 350-seat theater with good acoustics and good lighting," he said.

But he likes the fact that people are receptive to different types of music.

"I think the fact that we do have the arts going on here is a high point," he said.

Bugli and the other seven recipients will be honored at the 27th annual Governor's Arts Awards during a reception and ceremony 6-9 p.m. March 22 at Nightingale Hall on the University of Nevada, Reno campus.

• Contact Karen Woodmansee at or 882-2111 ext. 351.

If You Go

WHAT: 27th annual Governor's Arts Awards

WHEN: 6 p.m. March 22

WHERE: Nightingale Hall, UNR


COST: $35

CALL: (775) 687-6680 or (702) 486-3700


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