Scenes from the Mill Valley Philharmonic’s Local Parks Tour in May & June 2017. Courtesy images,

As the Mill Valley Philharmonic embarked on its first-ever MVP Local Parks Tour nearly a month ago, a fee, all-American concert program tour of three of most gorgeous destinations in the Bay Area, the organization had two primary goals: deliver great free orchestral performances, and find a way to pay for them via crowdfunding.

Organizers say they aced both of those tests, achieving something that few orchestras attempt with showcases at Golden Gate Park, Angel Island, and Fort Mason. The organization exceeded its $20,000 fundraising goal and garnered acclaim from  the Association of California Symphony Orchestras (ACSO), which featured MVP as a crowdfunding model for other California orchestras.    

The tour kicked off May 31 with a free kickoff concert at the Mt. Tamalpais United Methodist Church in Mill Valley, allowing neighbors and friends to be the first to hear the bang of timpani and the calls of trumpets in Copland’s Fanfare for the Common Man
The second stop was San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park Band Shell on June 3, allowing visitors to the DeYoung Museum to hear the playful bounce of Florence Price’s Juba, a dance-movement from her 3rd symphony, or the shouts of French horns asserting the beginning of Edward MacDowell’s Indian Suite No. 2.
One day later, MVP headed to Angel Island, loading the ferry with timpani, xylophone, instruments and musicians and performing in front of Angel Island’s Visitor’s Center. MVP is the first orchestra to have performed on Angel Island in its 62-year existence as a State Park. Audience donations in the violin case amounted to over $500, all of which was donated back to the Angel Island Conservancy. An enthusiastic standing ovation from Angel Islanders and calls for an “encore” was happily fulfilled by the sea-voyaging philharmonic. 

The final stop for the group was on June 11 at Fort Mason’s Gallery 308 with Samuel Barber’s Overture from the School for Scandal and Copland’s Rodeo serving as the soundtrack for Fort Mason’s weekly farmer’s market, the Western Crafts Fair and Escape from Alcatraz triathlon.
After 17 years at the helm, MVP founding artistic director Laurie Cohen announced her plans to retire in May 2018, and she’ll celebrate the occasion with a performance of Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 (with Dominican University Chorus and Throckmorton Chorus) at the 18th Season finale.


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