2015 April

The Mariposa Symphony Orchestra’s Spring Concert


Saturday, April 25th at 7:00pm

Fiester Auditorium of Mariposa County High School

Sunday, April 26th at 2:00 pm

Ahwahnee Hotel in Yosemite National Park




Tickets: $6 Adults/$4 Students (for the April 25th concert only) at the Mariposa County Arts Council: 209.966.3155 5009 Highway 140 in historic Mariposa Hours: M-F, 9-5

Also available at the Mariposa Visitors Center (call for hours): 209.966.7081

Happy 125th Anniversary, Yosemite!

On April 25th and 26th the Mariposa Symphony Orchestra will premiere MSO Founder/Conductor Les Marsden’sYosemite!, commemorating 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 fittingly in Yosemite,Yosemite! is Marsden’s depiction of the sites and sights, sounds, wildlife – and even historic events of our breathtaking iconic natural masterpiece.

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 Twilight” in which Marsden brings the famed Glacier Point Firefall back to life. That resurrection is aural only, of course – through suggestive musical re-creation, including the words of the dual callers and hints of the two very famous tunes that were 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 – that defining, creating, shaping and attractive source without which there would be no Yosemite, including orchestral portraits of Illilouette Falls, the high country Tuolumne River in late Autumnal tones, Yosemite Falls and even “Ke-Ko-Too-Yem and Tissiak’s Tears” – perhaps better known as the legend of Sleeping Waters (Mirror Lake) and the tears on Half Dome’s face.

Composed with dedicated love for this incredible work of nature and the inspiration it’s given him throughout his life, Marsden’s Yosemite! salutes the entirety of Yosemite National Park, not merely its famed Valley alone. The concert continues the MSO’s commemorations of the four major “American Anniversaries,” concluding next year with the centenary of the National Park Service.

There’s much more: the concert will open with Special Guest Artist and MSO audience favorite Ira Lehn in a truly historic performance of Camille Saint-Saëns’ First Cello Concerto.   The now 86-year-old Lehn made his professional debut as a soloist over six decades ago, performing that very same piece with the Philadelphia Orchestra and its legendary Maestro, Eugene Ormandy.   The concert’s first half will conclude with Jean Sibelius’ nature-embracing 3rd Symphony, continuing the MSO’s assay of famed composers’ third symphonies during the orchestra’s 13th season.

The MSO’s Sunday, April 26th 2:00 matinee concert in the famed Ahwahnee Hotel is offered free of charge, first-come in partnership with the generous 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, April 25 at 7:00 pm 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. Further information may also be obtained by calling the Mariposa County Arts Council at (209) 966-3155 or by e-mailing MSO@sti.net

Yosemite Firefalls’ Special Meaning for Merced Musician

Ted McVey - Glacier Point HotelWhen the Mariposa Symphony Orchestra premieres Founder/Conductor Les Marsden’s half-hour symphonic pieceYosemite! on April 25 and 26, there’ll be a unique connection for one of the MSO’s musicians. The final section of Marsden’sYosemite!  includes his musical interpretation of the park’s famed, long-ended Firefall, the nightly summertime spectacle created when the embers of a massive bonfire were pushed off the edge of Glacier Point.

And MSO Flutist Susan Randol’s father was the man who pushed those embers off the cliff.

Ranger Naturalist Ted McVey of Merced led the Camp Curry campfire programs and served as the Curry “caller” starting in 1955, before being stationed at Glacier Point during the summers of 1958 – 1960. During his Glacier Point years, Ranger McVey would present his evening Naturalist Program about 20 feet from the giant bed of coals. Visitors would take in McVey’s stories of Yosemite while enjoying the magnificent background view. At the conclusion of his program, the assembled audience would walk to the edge of Glacier Point for the 9:00 exchange of calls from Camp Curry and responses from Glacier Point:
Ted McVey - Wawona

“Hello, Glacier Point!”

“Hello, Camp Curry!”

“Is the Fire Ready?”

“The Fire is Ready!”

“Let the Fire Fall!”

“The Fire Falls!”
The coals would then be pushed over the edge using a special rake approximately four feet wide and one foot high, with a very long handle to avoid the intense heat. The “firefall” was informally started in 1872 by early trail developer and Glacier Point Hotelier James McCauley. It became an institution under legendary Camp Curry founder David Curry in the early 1900s and continued with only a few years’ interruption until 1968, at which time traffic concerns, the damage to Yosemite Valley’s meadows by eager firefall observers and its very unnatural nature caused the National Park Service to end the practice. The final firefall was held on January 25, 1968 with few observers due to the winter conditions.

Ted McVey - location unknownMerced native Ranger McVey’s experiences included being struck by lightning while atop Half Dome on August 9 1958 – which he described as “a blue flash and deafening crack” and serving in Washington state’s Olympic National Park. In 1962 he was one of the first instructors for Merced College and later became Dean of the college’s Los Banos campus. Though a full-time National Park ranger, he was allowed nine months off each year to teach. The late McVey’s campfire programs in the parks (including several summers headquartered at Wawona) always included his great joy of singing and that legacy of music continues in his daughter Susan’s performances with the Mariposa Symphony Orchestra. Though the firefall calls have been silenced for nearly 50 years, audiences will have the opportunity to hear those words again and to reminisce on Saturday April 25th at 7:00 in Mariposa’s Fiester Auditorium or on Sunday April 26th at 2:00 in Yosemite National Park’s Ahwahnee Hotel itself as the Mariposa Symphony Orchestra performs Marsden’s half-hour tribute to America’s crown jewel park. The concert also includes Jean Sibelius’ Third Symphony and Guest Artist Ira Lehn as soloist in Camille Saint-Saën’s Cello Concerto #1, the very piece with which Mr. Lehn made his professional debut in 1951 with legendary conductor Eugene Ormandy and the Philadelphia Orchestra.


The Mariposa Symphony Orchestra’s Spring Concert is an official event for the 125th Anniversary of Yosemite National Park.

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