MARIPOSA – On June 10, the Mariposa Symphony Orchestra’s Founding Music Director and Conductor Les Marsden guest-conducted the Health & Wellness Community Orchestra in Fort Collins, Colo.
Marsden had been asked to lead that orchestra in a performance of his “Wilderness – Our Necessary Refuge” from his “Our Nation’s Nature” cycle, heard throughout the Yosemite region in 2016.
While being introduced to the Colorado audience by Dr. Ann Yanagi, Founder of the Health & Wellness Community Orchestra, she revealed that Marsden’s example in creating the Mariposa Symphony Orchestra in 2002 had actually served as the model for her own creation of the Ft. Collins orchestra.
During his subsequent address to the Colorado audience from the stage, Marsden surprised attendees and the members of the orchestra by spontaneously proclaiming a “sister orchestra” relationship between the two ensembles, prompting extended applause.
Three weeks later, on Saturday, June 30, the podiums will be turned as the Health & Wellness Community Orchestra’s Music Director and Conductor Leslie Stewart will visit Mariposa to conduct a portion of the MSO’s 7 p.m. “Independence Day Spectacular!” Concert featuring Aaron Copland’s “An Outdoor Overture” and Morton Gould’s “American Salute.”
In addition to patriotic perennials, eight decades of great American symphonic film music will also be on glorious sonic display during the concert in the Mariposa County Park Amphitheatre.
Guest Conductor Leslie Stewart has been Music Director of the Health & Wellness Community Orchestra since it was founded at Poudre Valley Hospital in Ft. Collins in 2008. In 2013 she was honored with the “Outstanding Service Award” by Colorado State University’s College of Liberal Arts for her work with this ensemble and her accomplishments as Director of CSU’s Summer Master of Music Education degree with a Specialization in Conducting.
In addition, Ms. Stewart is Director of the CSU String Pedagogy Program, teaches violin, coaches chamber music, and conducts the CSU Concert Orchestra. She also plays violin in a number of faculty chamber ensembles, including the Verdoro String Trio with Professors Margaret Miller and Barbara Thiem. Ms. Stewart serves as Assistant Principal Second Violin with the Cheyenne Symphony, plays frequently with the Ft. Collins Symphony, and is a charter member of the Pro Musica Colorado Chamber Orchestra.
A graduate of Interlochen Arts Academy, Ms. Stewart holds Bachelor and Masters degrees in Music Performance from the University of Southern California. She was a violinist with the Puerto Rico Symphony and Alabama Symphony before moving to Northern California in 1989 to conduct the Marin Symphony Youth Orchestra and direct the Marin Symphony’s Youth Programs.
Beginning in 1998, she served as Music Director and Conductor of the Bay Youth Orchestra of Virginia culminating in the Bay Youth Symphony’s performance at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in August 2006.
Ms. Stewart has guest conducted honor orchestras, youth symphonies, and community orchestras throughout the United States and in Germany and Brazil. In January she gave masterclasses in conducting, violin, and chamber music at the Vietnam National Music Academy in Hanoi and in February she guest conducted the Advanced High School Honor Orchestra for Denver Public Schools. Marsden is delighted to introduce her to Mariposa’s audiences.
As silent films of the 1920s gave way to extravagant talking films of Hollywood’s Golden Age, the sound of a tinny upright piano was replaced by a full symphony orchestra. That grand adventure in sound continues to this very day, as the MSO will demonstrate.
Marsden has programmed a series of great film scores ranging from Erich Korngold’s thrilling music for 1940’s Errol Flynn-starring “The Sea Hawk” through John Williams’ “Jurassic Park” – the latest installment of which was released on June 22, just eight days before the MSO’s concert. Korngold was one of the creators of the “Hollywood sound” and his lush orchestral scores would profoundly influence generations of film composers, including Williams.
In addition to those two films, Marsden will conduct Williams’ music from Steven Spielberg’s “E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial,” Marsden’s own orchestral suite of music by American ragtime composer Scott Joplin (whose music was featured in 1974’s “The Sting”) and the suite from Leonard Bernstein’s “West Side Story” in commemoration of that composer’s centennial year.
The annual MSO “Independence Day Spectacular!” Concert is billed as “Mariposa’s own version of the Hollywood Bowl,” with patrons invited to dine at one of the town’s many fine restaurants or to bring a picnic dinner to enjoy on the lawn. The music is performed as the evening cools and the stars come out, in an old-fashioned celebration of America’s birthday.
The concert is never held on July 4th out of respect for the many other fine area events held on that date – and in order that the volunteer musicians of the orchestra can enjoy the actual holiday with their friends and family.
General admission tickets for the MSO’s June 30th Independence Day Spectacular! Concert are $10 for adults and $6 for students, with special discounted rates for Mariposa County Arts Council members of $8 for adults and $5 for students. More information is available by calling the Arts Council at 209-966-3155.
Concert tickets may be safely, securely purchased at the Arts Council’s online shop at https://tinyurl.com/Indy2018MSO.
The Mariposa County Park Amphitheatre is located at 4998 County Park Road in Mariposa.
The MSO is a program of the Mariposa County Arts Council.