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Shelton Johnson, Aaron Copland and Abraham Lincoln

Submitted by Les Marsden

MARIPOSA – One of the greatest pieces of musical Americana will be performed live – for the first time in the Yosemite Region – when the Mariposa Symphony Orchestra offers Aaron Copland’s A Lincoln Portrait with special guest Shelton Johnson as narrator.

The work will be featured on the orchestra’s “Independence Day Spectacular!” concert on Saturday, July 6 at 7 p.m. at the Amphitheatre in Mariposa County Park, conducted by the MSO’s Founding Music Director Les Marsden.Shelton-Johnson - buffalo soldier regaliaEminent Yosemite National Park Interpretive Ranger Shelton Johnson is internationally known for his work in the 2009 award-winning Ken Burns/Dayton Duncan “The National Parks: America’s Best Idea” documentary film series.

Author of the novel Gloryland, Johnson has long advocated for awareness of the important history of the “Buffalo Soldiers” – African-American troops who were among the earliest guardians of Yosemite and Sequoia National Parks.

A multi-talented actor, writer and musician, Johnson received the National Freeman Tilden Award as best interpreting ranger in the National Park Service and performs his The Forgotten Yosemite: A Buffalo Soldier Remembers in Yosemite.

Aaron Copland was asked to compose a musical work about an “eminent American” as part of America’s war effort in 1942 and settled upon the 16th President. The composer assembled excerpts of Lincoln’s own writings ranging from the 1863 Gettysburg Address to various speeches and letters, setting all to music.

Utilizing mostly original melodies, Copland also quoted music of Lincoln’s own time, including “Camptown Races” and “Springfield Mountain.” A Lincoln Portrait immediately established itself as a staple of American culture and as one of Copland’s most popular works.

The MSO’s July 6th “Independence Day Spectacular!” concert will include the area premiere of American composer Dudley Buck’s 1879 Festival Overture on the American National Air, which is, according to Marsden, “a rip-roaring treatment of ‘The Star-Spangled Banner’ composed over a half century before that tune officially became our national anthem.”

Also featured will be this year’s “Young Master Composers Celebration” winner Emily Croft, who (according to rules for 2013) composed both a brief story and music for her piece titled Frozen Love. Emily Croft will narrate her piece during its live premiere on July 6.

The concert will also include other American works including Copland’s Fanfare for the Common Man and Marsden’s own Foster Child – A Fantasia on the Music of Stephen Foster.

Tickets for the July 6 MSO concert are only $6 for adults and $4 for students, available now at the Mariposa County Arts Council gallery and offices at 5009 Highway 140 in Mariposa (top floor of Chocolate Soup) at the southern edge of downtown Mariposa, adjacent to the Mariposa Art Park. Call 209-966-3155.

Tickets are also available at the Mariposa County Visitors Center across from Miners Roadhouse at the north end of town. Call 209-966-7081 for hours.

E-mail MSO@sti.net and ask to be added to the low-volume, always-private “Friends of the MSO” e-mail notification list.

Further details on the Mariposa Symphony Orchestra’s 2013 “Independence Day Spectacular!” concert will soon be available on the orchestra’s Mariposa County Arts Council webpages: http://tinyurl.com/MariposaSO.

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