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Mariposa Symphony Orchestra’s Festive Holiday Concert

MSO at Glacier Point in 2016 – photo by Al Golub

MARIPOSA — The Mariposa Symphony Orchestra’s (MSO) 16th Season Festive Holiday Concert will be celebrated on Saturday, Dec. 16, at 7 p.m. in the Fiester Auditorium of Mariposa County High School. The MSO is a program of the Mariposa County Arts Council, Inc.

The concert features British composer Sir Edward Elgar’s landmark “Variations on an Original Theme – Enigma.” The 14 variations Elgar composed upon that mystery tune are musical portraits – love letters to Elgar’s friends, family and even himself.

MSO Founder and Conductor Les Marsden refers to the piece as a “remarkable musical tribute to the composer’s closest loved ones, and a lasting musical gift to the rest of us – appropriate in this season of giving and goodwill.”

“The Enigma Variations are important for many reasons – not merely for the loving, teasing, respect-filled, mocking, bittersweet, hilarious, monumental musical portraits contained therein. Not merely because no one has yet cracked that mysterious “enigma” in the 118 years since the work’s 1899 premiere and not merely because it’s a work of sheer, blissfully enjoyable genius. This tremendous piece’s greatest importance is that Elgar composed it at the right time: just before he was ready to give up.”

Elgar’s musical depictions include the stuttering speech pattern of a young lady friend, the rambunctious behavior of another friend’s dog, one high-spirited friend’s habit of slamming doors upon exiting, the poor pianism of an amateur enthusiast and much more.

Following the premiere concert of the Enigma Variations in London on June 19, 1899, the 42-year-old Elgar went from near-obscurity to being hailed as England’s greatest composer. It’s a title many musicologists believe he still holds to this day; the “Nimrod” variation from Enigma Variations was most recently used in the 2017 film “Dunkirk.”

Marsden’s complete program notes including an in-depth essay on the Enigma Variations may be found at

Also on the Dec. 16 program: French composer Louis Joseph Ferdinand Hérold’s most famous work: his rollicking, high-spirited “Zampa” Overture. There will also be seasonal favorites by Engelbert Humperdinck, Ralph Vaughan Williams and more.

Tickets are now available for safe, secure online purchase from the Mariposa County Arts Council by visiting or by calling 209.966.3155 for more information.

The MSO’s audience has grown rapidly and advance purchase of tickets is strongly advised rather than taking a chance at the door.

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