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MSO's Symphonic Celebration Of Yosemite

MARIPOSA – On Apr. 25 and 26, the Mariposa Symphony Orchestra commemorates the 125th Anniversary of Yosemite National Park’s 1890 creation with special concerts in Yosemite and Mariposa.

Renowned Cellist Ira Lehn returns to perform with the orchestra as soloist in Camille Saint-Saëns’ Cello Concerto #1 in A, Opus 33 – the very piece in which Mr. Lehn made his professional solo debut 64 years ago in 1951 with the Philadelphia Orchestra under Maestro Eugene Ormandy.

Mr. Lehn has previously performed the Dvorak Cello Concerto and Brahms Double Concerto with the MSO in 2011 and 2013.

The concerts will open with Jean Sibelius’ Symphony #3 in C, Opus 52. It’s considered one of the Finnish master’s most radiantly beautiful symphonies, leading MSO Founder/Conductor Les Marsden to describe the work as “the music of nature unchained. s such, it’s right at home in Yosemite.”

The concerts will conclude with the world-premiere performances of Marsden’s new large-scale symphonic work Yosemite!, composed to commemorate the 1890 establishment of Yosemite National Park. The third (of four) orchestral tone-poems in his large-scale “American Anniversaries” cycle to be premiered both in Mariposa and Yosemite, Yosemite! is Marsden’s depiction of the sites and sights, sounds, wildlife – and even historic events of the iconic national park.

Major sections of the sprawling 30-minute Yosemite! include “Prelude to Dawn: the Giants of Mariposa Grove” – which depicts not only the majestic sequoias but also human giants such as their protector Galen Clark, “Chickaree, Steller’s Jay and the Black Bear’s Lament,” “Go West, Young Muir,” and “1962: Yosemite Valley, Late Summer at Twiligh,t” in which Marsden brings the famed Glacier Point Firefall back to life, if only through suggestive musical re-creation.

The “Firefall” section includes the words of the dual callers and hints of the two very famous tunes associated with the nightly experience. The Firefall ended on January 25, 1968, after nearly a century of on-and-off-again displays through the decades.

Introducing, intertwining throughout, and concluding the piece are depictions of various aspects of Yosemite’s water – the defining, creating, shaping and attractive source without which there would be no Yosemite. Included are orchestral portraits of Illilouette Falls, the high country Tuolumne River in late autumn, Yosemite Falls and even “Ke-Ko-Too-Yem and Tissiak’s Tears” – better known as the legend of Sleeping Waters (Mirror Lake) and the tears on Half Dome’s face.

The MSO’s Sunday, Apr. 26, 2 p.m. Ahwahnee Hotel matinee concert is offered free of charge, first-come, in partnership with the cooperation of the National Park Service, Yosemite National Park and Superintendent Don Neubacher, Delaware North Parks and Resorts at Yosemite (President Dan Jensen) and the Ahwahnee Hotel (Manager Brett Archer.)

The concert will also be performed on Saturday, Apr. 25, at 7 p.m. in the Fiester Auditorium of Mariposa County High School. Tickets for that concert only are $6 for adults/$4 for students and may be purchased from the Mariposa County Arts Council (209) 966-3155. Tickets for the Mariposa (Fiester) Concert (only) are also available from the Mariposa County Visitors Center, (209) 966-7081, across from Miners Roadhouse at the north end of downtown Mariposa.

For full concert information, visit

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