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MSO Season Opener Celebrates Wilderness

MARIPOSA – The Mariposa Symphony Orchestra will open its 12th Season on Saturday, Oct. 19, at 7 p.m., in the Fiester Auditorium of Mariposa County High School with a special world premiere event.

Founding Music Director and Conductor Les Marsden has composed a 20-minute symphonic poem titled Wilderness – Our Necessary Refuge as part of Mariposa County’s participation in four special anniversaries being commemorated nationwide through 2016.

“When the Yosemite Gateway Partners Organization began working with the National Park Service a year or two ago on initial planning, I decided one of the most distinctive ways Mariposa could participate was through one of the most unique organizations in the entire central California area: the Mariposa Symphony Orchestra,” said Marsden.

“What more impressive way to mark the four anniversaries than with special, original symphonic music composed specifically for each commemoration, performed by the Yosemite region’s symphony orchestra? With all the gateway communities planning events, Mariposa can offer one of the most unique – one which will set our county apart. And I was humbled when my offer met with enthusiastic approval.”

Wilderness 50 yearsHow does one symphonically commemorate the 50th Anniversary of the Wilderness Act? Just what is the sound of wilderness? How can it be interpreted by a symphony orchestra? Marsden began with inspiration from John Muir, who wrote in 1901 of over-civilized people discovering “that wildness is a necessity.”

In Wilderness – Our Necessary Refuge, Marsden set out to symphonically interpret his own experiences with the beauty, power, harmony, danger, majesty and life found in nature by focusing on the four classical elements some believe are the foundation of our planet: Water, Earth, Air and Fire.

“It was challenging to write music representative of fire while distracted by our real fires this past summer, and especially during our Carstens Fire evacuation. But my goal was to use those elements to represent the extraordinary power of wilderness: the miasma of formative elements. The creation of earth. Those elements in wilderness: lightning, rivers, waterfalls, thunderstorms, a still pond, rain, earthquakes, wind, a tempest at sea – and – ultimately the harmony of those elements. Above all, I hope to capture our need for wilderness in this 20-minute movement.”

The Fiester Auditorium performance will feature a brand-new instrument custom-made for Marsden’s piece: a wind-machine.

Marsden’s remaining three commemorative pieces will each be premiered in 2014, 2015 and 2016. With the premiere of the final piece (commemorating the 100th Anniversary of the National Park Service) in 2016, all four will then be performed together in a large-scale symphonic cycle Marsden calls “American Anniversaries.”

The MSO 12th Season Opening Concert also features music marking the bicentennial of the 1813 births of opera giants Giuseppe Verdi and Richard Wagner as well as Franz Josef Haydn’s 97th Symphony.

Tickets are $6 for adults and $4 for students and are on sale at the Mariposa County Arts Council’s office at 5009 Highway 140 in Mariposa (top floor of Chocolate Soup) adjacent to the Mariposa Art Park. For information call (209) 966-3155. Tickets are also available at the Mariposa County Visitors Center (call 209-966-7081 for hours) across from Miners Roadhouse. Full concert info including complete program notes​ available on the Mariposa County Arts Council’s website: http://tinyurl.com/MariposaSO


The concert starts at 7 p.m. on Saturday, October 19.

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