One of the greatest pieces of musical Americana will be performed live for the first time in the Yosemite region when the Mariposa Symphony Orchestra offers Aaron Copland's "A Lincoln Portrait" with special guest Shelton Johnson as narrator. The work will be featured during the orchestra's "Independence Day Spectacular" concert at 7 p.m., Saturday, July 6 at the Amphitheatre in Mariposa County Park.
The orchestra will be conducted by the orchestra's founding music director Les Marsden.
Johnson, an eminent Yosemite National Park interpretive, is internationally known for his work in the 2009 award-winning Ken Burns/Dayton Duncan "The National Parks: America's Best Idea" documentary film series.
Author of the novel "Gloryland," Johnson has long advocated for awareness of the important history of the "Buffalo Soldiers" African-American troops who were among the earliest guardians of Yosemite and Sequoia National Parks. A multi-talented actor, writer and musician, Johnson received the National Freeman Tilden Award as best interpreting ranger in the National Park Service and performs his "The Forgotten Yosemite: A Buffalo Soldier Remembers in Yosemite."
"A Lincoln Portrait" came to be when Copland was asked to compose a musical work about an "eminent American" as part of America's war effort in 1942. Copland settled upon the 16th president. The composer assembled excerpts of Lincoln's own writings ranging from the 1863 Gettysburg Address to various speeches and letters, setting all to music.
The concert will also feature 'The Star-Spangled Banner,' composed over a half century before the tune officially became America's national anthem. The "Young Master Composers Celebration" winner Emily Croft, will also perform.
Tickets cost $6 for adults and $4 for students.
Details: Mariposa County Arts Council, (209) 966-3155, Mariposa County Visitors Center, (209) 966-7081.