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Mariposa Symphony Orchestra’s annual Independence Day celebration has Rockies connection

Les Marsden conducts the Mariposa Symphony Orchestra in “Our Nation’s Nature” in August 2016 in Yosemite National Park. On June 10, 2018, Marsden led a Fort Collins, Colo., orchestra in the piece. That orchestra’s conductor will return the visit Saturday, June 30 when the MSO performs its annual Independence Day Spectacular!
Les Marsden conducts the Mariposa Symphony Orchestra in “Our Nation’s Nature” in August 2016 in Yosemite National Park. On June 10, 2018, Marsden led a Fort Collins, Colo., orchestra in the piece. That orchestra’s conductor will return the visit Saturday, June 30 when the MSO performs its annual Independence Day Spectacular! courtesy Mariposa Symphony Orchestra

The Mariposa Symphony Orchestra’s new sister orchestra conductor is coming to town Saturday, June 30, for MSO’s annual Independence Day Spectacular! concert is linking the Sierra and the Rockies.

The concert begins at 7 p.m. Saturday, June 30, in the Mariposa County Park Amphitheatre, 4998 Country Road Park in Mariposa.

Leslie Stewart, music director of the Health & Wellness Community Orchestra in Fort Collins, Colo., will conduct a portion of the concert.

Leslie Stewart
Leslie Stewart, music director of the Health & Wellness Community Orchestra in Fort Collins, Colo.

The unusual partnership has its roots three weeks ago. On June 10, MSO founding music director and conductor Les Marsden guest-conducted the Fort Collins orchestra. According to MSO, Health & Wellness Community Orchestra founder Dr. Ann Yanagi told the audience that Marsden’s example in creating the MSO in 2002 served as a model for her own creation in Colorado.

Marsden led the Fort Collins orchestra in a performance of his “Wilderness – Our Necessary Refuge” from his “Our Nation’s Nature” cycle, heard throughout the Yosemite region in 2016.

And during his subsequent address to the Colorado audience from the stage, Marsden surprised attendees and the members of the orchestra by spontaneously proclaiming a “sister orchestra” relationship between the two ensembles.

Stewart has been the Fort Collins orchestra’s music director since Yanagi started it at Poudre Valley Hospital in 2008. She has performed and taught nationally and internationally.

The MSO - July 1 2017 Indy Concert
The scene at the Mariposa Symphony Orchestra’s annual Independence Day Spectacular! concert in 2017. Courtesy Mariposa Symphony Orchestra

Saturday’s concert features Aaron Copland’s “An Outdoor Overture” and Morton Gould’s “American Salute” plus a salute to eight decades of American symphonic film music. MSO says Marsden has programmed a series of film scores ranging from Erich Korngold’s work for 1940’s Errol Flynn-starring “The Sea Hawk” through John Williams’ “Jurassic Park.”

In addition to those two films, Marsden will conduct Williams’ music from Steven Spielberg’s “E.T.,” Marsden’s own orchestral suite of music by American ragtime composer Scott Joplin (whose music was featured in 1974’s “The Sting”) and the suite from Leonard Bernstein’s “West Side Story” in commemoration of that composer’s centennial year.

MSO says its annual Independence Day celebration is billed as “Mariposa’s own version of the Hollywood Bowl,” with patrons invited to dine at one of the town’s restaurants or to bring a picnic dinner to enjoy on the lawn. The concert is never held on July 4 in respect for the many other fine area events held on that date – and in order that the volunteer musicians of the orchestra can enjoy the actual holiday with their friends and family.

General admission tickets are $10 for adults and $6 for students, with special discounted rates for members of the sponsoring Mariposa County Arts Council of $8 for adults and $5 for students. Tickets are on sale online at tinyurl.com/Indy2018MSO.

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