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Mariposa Symphony Orchestra Kicks Off 14th Season

MARIPOSA – The Mariposa Symphony Orchestra’s 14th season-opening concert will present two “enormously famous pieces, and another two which aren’t: but absolutely should be,” notes MSO Founder/Conductor Les Marsden.

The performance will begin at 7 p.m. in the Fiester Auditorium of Mariposa County High School on Saturday, Oct. 24.

The overture to Giaocchino Rossini’s 1816 comic opera “The Barber of Seville,” remains one of the most famous pieces of music ever written, and one of the most humorous – even having become the basis of a Bugs Bunny cartoon. This despite the fact the notoriously procrastinating composer actually recycled this overture from two previous, unsuccessful operas – which is why it bears no thematic resemblance to the opera with which it’s associated.

The other instantly-recognized piece on the program is Samuel Barber’s “Adagio for Strings.” Initially the second movement of the American composer’s 1936 String Quartet, Barber arranged the Adagio for string orchestra, in which form it became an instant classic. Often performed at solemn occasions (such as FDR’s and JFK’s memorials; it was that later president’s favorite piece of music), its deeply introspective nature has secured it a place in popular culture, even including video games and most notably, the films “Elephant Man” and “Platoon.”

The concert will open and close with two lesser-known pieces. Andre Grétry’s ballet suite from the 1773 opera “Céphale et Procris” was re-imagined by conductor/arranger Felix Mottl in 1901, creating a “bubbling, charming and surprisingly fun three-movement suite which shows off all the sections of the orchestra,” observes Marsden. “In his day a very successful composer who left some 69 operas, this is perhaps the most often-performed of his works and even then, it’s not performed often enough. Our audiences are in for a treat.”

The concert will close with Russian composer Vasily Kalinnikov’s stunning Symphony #1. Last performed by the MSO in 2010, it’s back at the request of audience members and musicians alike.

“An astonishingly mature work from a composer who would die two days before his 35th birthday, and one of the most magnificent first symphonies ever composed, with a finale that usually leaves musicians gasping for air and audience members on their feet, cheering!” claims Marsden. “And how it is that this piece isn’t known by every music lover is a mystery. One I’m happy to try to remedy as we present this fantastic piece at our next concert.”

Tickets for the MSO’s Oct. 24 Season-Opening Concert are only $6 for adults and $4 for students. They’re now available at the Mariposa County Arts Council’s office and Treetop Gallery on the top floor of the Chocolate Soup store at the southern entrance to the town of Mariposa. Call (209) 966-3155 for tickets and information.

Tickets are also available at the Mariposa Visitors Center at the north end of town, directly opposite Miners Roadhouse; call (209) 966-7081 for hours. Information is available at http://tinyurl.com/MariposaSO. E-mail MSO@sti.net and ask to be added to the private, exclusive “Friends of the MSO” e-list.

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