Music on a summer's eve has become an annual tradition in Mariposa. Each year as June ends or July begins, the Mariposa Symphony Orchestra performs in the county park amphitheater.
Stadium-style bench seating and a grassy lawn give folks room to enjoy the outdoor concert.
On Saturday, at 7 p.m., the program will feature patriotic tunes and two special guests.
Shelton Johnson will narrate Aaron Copland's "A Lincoln Portrait." Johnson received the National Freeman Tilden Award in 2009. This award is given to outstanding interpretive rangers within the National Park Service.
Johnson was recognized for his work with Ken Burns and Dayton Duncan on their documentary, "The National Parks: America's Best Idea."
As an author, a musician and historian, Johnson is considered an expert on the subject of Buffalo Soldiers, the U.S. Army's regiments of African-American soldiers who served during the late 1800s and through the early 1900s.
In the spring of each year Les Marsden, orchestra founder and director, invites local students to compose a piece of classical music for entrance in the Young Masters Composer Celebration competition. This year's challenge included writing a short narrative to accompany the music, in the style of "Peter and the Wolf."
Emily Elizabeth Croft, age 17, is the 2013 winner with her original composition, "Frozen Love." Marsden orchestrated her music, which will be performed at the July 6 concert. Emily will receive a certificate and cash prize, along with the score and a CD of the orchestral version of her composition.
Also on the program tomorrow evening will be "The Star-Spangled Banner," "Festival Overture on the American National Air (The Star-Spangled Banner)," "Stars and Stripes Forever," "Armed Forces Salute" by Mariposa's Dr. Phillip Smith, "Foster Child: A Fantasia on the Music of Stephen Foster" composed by Marsden, and Copland's "Fanfare for the Common Man."
While studying at the California Institute of the Arts many years ago, one orchestra member enjoyed a brief acquaintance with Copland.
Pam Vanderveer, pianist and retired teacher, met the famed composer while he was at Cal Arts that summer. In a private lesson, she graciously accepted his critique of her piano skills, agreeing that the song needed more work.
Later when he announced the need of a page-turner for his upcoming performance, Vanderveer says, she almost knocked him over in volunteering for the job. Since then he has been her favorite composer.
The orchesta's Independence Day Spectacular costs only $6 for adults and $4 for students. Tickets may be purchased in advance at the Mariposa County Arts Council and Mariposa Visitors Center, or at the amphitheater entrance. For more information, call (209)966-3155, (800) 903-9936, or email, firstname.lastname@example.org.
The arts council recently announced the opening of a new exhibit by regional artists at the Treetop Gallery. On July 12 from 5:30 to 7 p.m., a reception will be held in the gardens below the gallery at 5009 Highway 140.
Following the reception the band, Colorado Road, will kick off the season première of Mariposa Evenings in the Art Park next to the gallery. On July 13 at 7 p.m., Bootstrap Circus will take the stage.
The performances feature music of various genres, including country, bluegrass, Americana, folk, reggae, jazz and classic rock. This event is free to the public, but tips are appreciated. Bring a blanket or lawn chair for seating.
The arts council's website has been redesigned and lists upcoming events on the calendar. Go to www. mariposaartscouncil.org for details.
Debbie Croft writes about life in the foothill communities. She can be reached at email@example.com.