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Image of Eleanor Choate, Sally Martinez, and Linnea Pierson.
Come meet some of the members of the Mariposa Yosemite Symphony Orchestra, including (from left to right) Linnea Pierson, Sally Martinez, and Eleanor (Ellie) Choate.

Meet the Mariposa Yosemite Symphony Orchestra Musicians

MARIPOSA — Back following a 40-month COVID hiatus and led by its Founding Music Director and Conductor Les Marsden, the Mariposa Yosemite Symphony Orchestra is now fully independent in its 21st year. Its 2019-2023 18th “Season Interruptus” began in the fall of 2019, but was suspended in March 2020 due to COVID. It will now resume, eventually ending nearly four years late, in the summer of 2023.

Lets Meet the Musicians
Image of Ellie Choate.

Ellie Choate.

Nearly all the orchestra’s veteran musicians have returned, though a few others moved far from the Yosemite region during the interim. Those have been replaced with newly-recruited members and though the orchestra’s musicians are largely drawn from Madera, Merced, Stanislaus, Tulare, Fresno and Mariposa Counties, some come from as far away as Southern California and Fort Collins, Colorado. The MYSO’s ranks of both familiar and new faces include employees of the NPS and affiliated organizations as well as noteworthy professionals.

Joining the MYSO as its orchestral harpist for the very first time is accomplished Southern California virtuoso, recording artist and instructor Eleanor Choate of UC Irvine and CSU Long Beach. Ellie and MYSO Founder Les Marsden first made music together over 50 years ago on the cusp of their teens when she played harp in a children’s operetta Marsden composed and conducted. They were later members of the Fresno Youth and Fresno Junior Philharmonic Orchestras. In addition to her Southern California home, Ellie maintains a residence in Coarsegold as well.

Image of Sally Martinez.

Sally Martinez.

Oberlin-trained longtime MYSO Concertmaster and Yosemite National Park’s Volunteer Program Manager Sally Martinez was introduced to the violin at age three and began taking lessons in her home state of Massachusetts. She grew up performing with the Greater Boston Youth Symphony Orchestras before attending Oberlin College in Ohio. At Oberlin, Sally pursued a degree in Environmental Studies, but continued to participate in music lessons and performances with students and faculty at the Conservatory of Music.

In her adult life, Sally has had the opportunity to perform with many community and professional orchestras, in concert halls across the world, from UC Davis’ Mondavi Center to New York’s Carnegie Hall to Prague’s famed Rudolfinum. Sally has spent most of her career in civil service. She has a Master’s degree in Public Administration from the University of Montana, and about 15 years with the federal government. Prior to her current managerial position in Yosemite, Sally served as a Park Ranger in Montana’s Glacier National Park and as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Bonga, Ethiopia. She enjoys backpacking, hiking, cooking, and learning languages. Sally lives in El Portal with her husband Alex and two one-eyed cats.

Image of Linnea Pierson.

Linnea Pierson.

Veteran MYSO Second Bassoonist Linnea Pierson states “My first spring in Yosemite, I was able to see the MYSO perform at the Ahwahnee Hotel in Yosemite Valley. Right after, I emailed Les and asked if there were any bassoon openings. One year later, I was in the orchestra! Playing with the MYSO has brought joy to my life and has grown my connection with the larger community. I work for NatureBridge in Yosemite connecting youth to the outdoors. Hobbies other than orchestra include calling contra dances in El Portal, playing fiddle, carving wooden spoons, and of course recreating in Yosemite National Park.”

About the Mariposa Yosemite Symphony Orchestra

The orchestra is back with passion, and required advance-purchase tickets for its Saturday, April 29, at 7 p.m. concert in Mariposa High School’s Fiester Auditorium are selling quickly. Mariposa High School is located at 5074 Old Highway North in Mariposa.

Tickets remain a low $10 for adults and $8 for students (through college age, if currently enrolled). If any seats remain at concert time, entry may be gained with a suggested $15 donation at the door, $10 for students. No change will be available, and touch-free COVID guidelines for cash handling will be in effect.

Image of Les Marsden.

Les Marsden.

Online ticket sales for the Saturday April 29th concert only may by purchased here. The orchestra will play the following day, Sunday, April 30, at a 2 p.m. matinee concert in the Ballroom at Tenaya Lodge at Yosemite in Fish Camp, just south of Yosemite National Park’s South entrance at 1122 Highway 41. Admission to that matinee is a suggested donation at the door of $10 for adults and $8 for students with no change available.

All Yosemite in-park concert admissions (and the Tenaya Lodge matinee concert) will retain that same suggested entrance donation price, as in the past. The MYSO is grateful for the support and cooperation of the management of Tenaya Lodge at Yosemite and its owner/operator Delaware North Parks and Resorts.

Image of the flyer for the upcoming MYSO event.The program for the April 29th and 30th concerts will be Beethoven’s “Leonore Overture #3,” the original rarely-heard first version of Tchaikovsky’s “Romeo and Juliet Fantasy Overture” and Vasily Kalinnikov’s “Symphony #1 in G Minor.” For more information, please click here.

The MYSO (or “MY Symphony Orchestra”) is now a fully-independent entity operating as a 501(C)(3) affiliated with the Collaborative Arts and Culture Foundation (CACF). All donations to the orchestra are tax-deductible, with information on the orchestra’s website.

The Mariposa Yosemite Symphony Orchestra has been honored to partner with Yosemite National Park for over 15 years, and the park’s concessionaire Yosemite Hospitality, LLC, a subsidiary of Aramark is a major fiscal supporter and sponsor of the orchestra.

Check out MYSO performing “Frühlingsstimmen Waltz” by Johann Strauss, Jr.

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