Mill Valley Philharmonic founder and artistic director Laurie Cohen revealed last month that she plans to retire in May 2018, at the end of the organization’s 18th concert season. She’s made clear that the award-winning, full-size symphonic orchestra of 60 musicians plans to send her off with a bang.

MVP wraps up its current season with Cohen’s presentation of the MVP Local Parks Tour – the organization’s first-ever tour of Bay Area parks – with free concerts at the bandshell in Golden Gate Park, and performances on Angel Island and at Fort Mason on June 3, 4, and 11, respectively. The tour, which features the works of Copland, Price, MacDowell and Barber, begins with a free kickoff concert at the Mt. Tamalpais United Methodist Church in Mill Valley on May 31. 

The concert begins with Aaron Copland’s powerful and moving Fanfare for the Common Man. Following are two movements from Florence Price’s Symphony No. 3 in Cm. Hers was the first symphony by an African American female composer to be performed by a major American orchestra. The work was commissioned by the Works Progress Administration’s Federal Music Project during the height of the Great Depression.  
Written in 1892, Edward MacDowell’s Indian Suite (Suite No. 2) has themes based on Native American melodies and rhythms, notably from the Iowa Tribe and the Iroquois.  MVP plays three movements of the Indian Suite, then follows with a different American folk tune, which can be heard in Samuel Barber’s Overture to The School for Scandal. Written at age twenty, the overture was Barber’s first orchestral work. It caught the ears of the music world and earned him a prestigious prize. Within it’s melodic and rhythmic complexity, there is a hidden theme to a children’s song, “I wrote a letter to my love.” Rounding out the music are three of the Dance Episodes from Rodeo by Aaron Copland.
Aaron Copland, Fanfare for the Common Man
Florence Price, Juba and Scherzo: Finale from Symphony No. 3 in Cm, conducted by David Gordon
Edward MacDowell, Indian Suite (Suite No. 2), Movements 1, 2 and 5
Samuel Barber, Overture from the School for Scandal
Aaron Copland, Saturday Night Waltz, Corral Nocturne and Hoedown – Dance Episodes from Rodeo

Cohen’s final season with the orchestra, which 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.

The 411: GO HERE for more info on the Mill Valley Philharmonic‘s MVP Local Parks Tour, including the free kickoff concert at the Mt. Tamalpais United Methodist Church, 410 Sycamore Ave., on May 31. GO HERE to donate to MVP’s Indiegogo campaign to fund the Local Parks Tour.

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