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After 18 years on the podium, Mill Valley Philharmonic founder and artistic director Laurie Cohen will retire in May 2018, at the end of the organization’s 18th concert season.
 
“As a team, MVP has come a long way artistically, and the next year gives us the opportunity to celebrate our successes – and MVP’s future – with our fabulous musicians, supporters, community partners, volunteers and audiences, who have together made MVP what it is today,” Cohen said. “And doesn’t 18 years sound like the perfect time to launch the orchestra into its next phase?” 
 
Cohen’s final season with the orchestra, which will run from September 2017 through May 2018, will feature Schumann’s Symphony No. 1 in November, a Valentine’s concert in February, and culminate in May with Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony (in collaboration with the Dominican Chorale).

The Philharmonic’s board of directors has a transition plan underway to continue the orchestra’s legacy of musicianship, innovation, and community engagement, according to the MVP Board President Elizabeth Dinsel.
 
“Laurie’s retirement will mark a significant milestone for our community and for the Philharmonic,” she said. “Laurie’s multi-talented and multi-faceted leadership has made so much possible. We have a solid foundation and … will soon begin the search process for an executive director and a new music director committed to carrying MVP, and Laurie’s vision, forward.”   
 
Cohen, a former psychotherapist and an accomplished cellist, discovered her passion for conducting at age 50. She became assistant conductor for the San Francisco Community Music Center Orchestra, and soon realized that there were no similar orchestra opportunities for amateur musicians in Marin apart from the performance course offerings at the College of Marin,

So she decided to start one herself. Under Cohen’s leadership, MVP grew from a small string ensemble into an award-winning, full-size symphonic orchestra of 60 musicians. The orchestra’s volunteer musicians play in local venues where audiences experience an up-close and personal connection with the performers. MVP has also provided a rare vehicle for local composers to showcase their work: over the past 17 seasons, MVP has commissioned 18 new pieces. 
 
In keeping with Cohen’s strong belief – incorporated into MVP’s mission statement – that music is a vital and unifying part of community life, all concerts are free, with funding provided solely by individual contributions along with public and private foundation grants. 
 
MVP’s current season will conclude with Cohen’s presentation of the MVP Local Parks Tour, with free concerts in Golden Gate Park, Angel Island, and Fort Mason on June 3, 4, and 11 and a free kickoff concert at the Mt. Tamalpais United Methodist Church in Mill Valley on May 31. 
 
The 411: GO HERE for more info on the Mill Valley Philharmonic.


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