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Mariposa Symphony Orchestra Spring Concerts

MARIPOSA — The Mariposa Symphony Orchestra’s (MSO) 15th Season continues as its Spring Concert is performed twice – on Saturday, Apr. 29 at 7 p.m. in the Fiester Auditorium of Mariposa County High School, and again the next day as a special 2 p.m. matinee on Sunday, Apr. 30 in the Majestic Yosemite Hotel (formerly the Ahwahnee) in Yosemite National Park.

In a concert described by Founding Music Director and Conductor Les Marsden as one “filled with music of incredible beauty and awe-inspiring power,” the MSO will be joined by special guest soloist Ira Lehn in Ernest Bloch’s Schelomo, Hebraic Rhapsody for Cello and Orchestra.

The Swiss-born, naturalized American citizen Bloch composed Schelomo in 1915-16 in response to the horrors of the first World War. Considered the composer’s finest work, it was inspired by the biblical book of Ecclesiastes, and Bloch’s portrait is of the presumed writer of that book, King Solomon.

First composed with the human voice in mind as soloist, Bloch decided the cello was an “infinitely grander and more profound voice that could speak all languages.” And so the cello speaks the voice of Schelomo – the Hebrew name for King Solomon.

The orchestra represents Schelomo’s world, while the cello considers the many meanings of life – including the rhythms of “Oriental” seduction – making it a more than apt concert partner for Nikolay Rimsky Korsakov’s Scheherazade, presented in the concert’s second half. The overall tone of Schelomo is one of sadness and despair at the human condition – though hope is delivered briefly during the cello’s musing.

Les Marsden with Ira Lehn in the Ahwahnee Hotel April 2015 – photo courtesy MSO

Ira Lehn made his professional debut at age 23 in 1951 as soloist with the Philadelphia Orchestra conducted by Eugene Ormandy. A favorite of MSO audiences, he’s previously appeared with the orchestra under Marsden in concerti by Dvorak, Saint-Saëns and Brahms.

One of the most beloved symphonic works ever composed, Rimsky-Korsakov’s Scheherazade’s four movements portray the Arabian Nights tales of The Sea and Sinbad’s Ship, The Story of the Kalender Prince, The Young Prince and Princess and a finale depicting Festival at Baghdad – The Sea – Shipwreck – and Conclusion.

The movements and tales are woven together by tale-teller Scheherazade, who each night presents a cliff-hanging story in order that her woman-hating Sultan husband will allow her to live another day. If he kills her, he won’t know how each story ends. Eventually, he comes to fall in love with Scheherazade, whose voice is represented by the solo violin, played by MSO Concertmaster Sally Kintner.

The darkly-hued overture to Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s “dramma giocoso” opera “Don Giovanni” will open the concert. The work combines comic, dramatic – and even horrific elements in a compact six minute overture which was written literally overnight.

Tickets are now available online for the Saturday, Apr. 29 Mariposa Concert; for prices and purchase, please visit the Mariposa County Arts Council’s website at http://www.mariposaartscouncil.org or call 209.966.3155 for more information.

The Sunday concert in Yosemite is free, but seats are only available first come, first seated basis.

The MSO and Mariposa County Arts Council are indebted to the National Park Service and Yosemite Hospitality LLC (Aramark’s concessionaire division in Yosemite) for their partnership in presenting the free Yosemite concert of the MSO.

The MSO is a program of the Mariposa County Arts Council, Inc.

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