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Founding Member Honored At MSO Concert

MARIPOSA – The Festive Holiday Concert of the Mariposa Symphony Orchestra (MSO) on Saturday, Dec. 21, will honor the memory of Dr. Phillip Smith, founding MSO Principal Tuba player and longtime arranger, composer and dedicated member of the orchestra.

The concert will open with Smith’s own composition Elegy and Prayer, which was originally composed to commemorate the anniversary of the September 11, 2001 attacks on America.

MSO Founder and Conductor Les Marsden and the orchestra will instead offer the piece in loving memory of Dr. Phillip Smith.

Smith passed away in the early hours of Wednesday, Dec. 11, after valiantly fighting cancer for many years. He was the impetus behind the Mariposa County High School Grizzly Band, where he served as Associate Director beginning in 2001, and as Director from 2008 until his death.

A highly skilled composer, arranger and conductor, he was also a deeply loved and respected teacher. Under Smith’s dedicated efforts, the Grizzly Band was elevated to national renown and the group even won a Grammy Award in 2011.

During his tenure, the Grizzly Band was consistently adjudicated among the best high school marching bands in America and was the only California band invited to perform at the Nov. 11, 2011, Veterans Day observations in New York City.

“Phil was a remarkably humble man I was honored to call my friend for well over a decade,” says Marsden. “His loss to Mariposa County is incalculable and we’ll miss him beyond reckoning.

“Phil lived first for his family, but also for his absolute love of music. His Elegy and Prayer is a perfect memorial to its composer; a contemplative work that at times is troubled, but endures to become ultimately uplifting. I want our December 21st concert to be a similarly uplifting, positive and celebratory evening dedicated to this man who gave so much to so many.”

After opening with Elegy and Prayer, the MSO’s Holiday Concert will feature classical holiday favorites such as Tchaikovsky’s beloved Nutcracker Suite, Waldteufel’s Skaters Waltz, Leroy Anderson’s Sleigh Ride and other works including Beethoven’s Leonore Overture #3.

MSO cellist Gay Hagen Dunn will be featured in Édouard Lalo’s Intermezzo from his sole cello concerto. Full concert information including extensive program notes are available on the Mariposa County Arts Council’s website:

The concert starts at 7 p.m in the Fiester Auditorium of Mariposa County High School. Tickets are $6 for adults, $4 for students and are on sale at the Mariposa County Arts Council’s office at 5009 Highway 140 in Mariposa (top floor of Chocolate Soup) adjacent to the Mariposa Art Park. For information call (209) 966-3155.

Tickets are also available at the Mariposa County Visitors Center (call (209) 966-7081 for hours) across from Miners Roadhouse.

Join the MSO in honoring one of their own – a man who gave all for his community and his country.

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