One of Mammoth’s longest running traditions, musical or otherwise, returns as the Sierra Summer Festival kicks of its 34th season! This year, the festival adds a new venue to its repertoire, with a debut performance of its “pops” program, “Wild Frontiers” at no less a wild location than Convict Lake Resort. This Sunday, Aug. 7, at 2:30 p.m., Associate Conductor Scott Hosfeld leads the Sierra Pops Orchestra, or SPO, (a 40-player version of the Eastern Sierra Symphony Orchestra) in a time-traveling musical journey from the taming of the Wild West to outer space.
Orchestra Manager Wes Hawks said fans are in for a special treat, as the SPO will be playing the original Main Title arrangement from Alfred Newman’s How the West Was Won, courtesy of violinist Maria Newman, who is both Alfred’s daughter as well as Hosfeld’s wife! Also on the program: William Tell Overture, aka the theme for the “Lone Ranger” TV series, “On The Trail” from Ferde Grofé’s Grand Canyon Suite, “Jupiter-Bringer of Jollity” from Holst’s The Planets and Star Wars Epic #2 Suite by John Williams. Sit in the tent with the orchestra, or just outside in the shade of the aspen trees, while you enjoy gourmet food, appetizers and beverages served from the legendary Convict Lake Restaurant.
Hawks said the Convict Lake concert is a throwback of sorts to the pops shows that used to be held at Canyon Lodge, in the days when it was known as Warming Hut #2. “It’s part of our audience broadening effort by doing a lighter program in a nice, accessible environment,” Hawks noted.
The SSF’s history is something Hawks knows well. Hawks, who plays clarinet, is one of two original members who haven’t missed a single year so far. The other, Bishop resident John Wehausen, plays oboe. Wehausen’s wife Carolyn, an emergency medical professional, also plays clarinet with the ensemble. John is mostly known for his work with Sierra Nevada Bighorn Sheep.
Miss the Mammoth Lakes Music Festival? Still want more Chamber ensemble music? You’re in luck! On Thursday, Aug. 11, at 7:30 p.m. in St. Joseph’s Catholic Church, smaller sections of the Eastern Sierra Symphony Orchestra get back to their “Classical Roots.” Hosfeld again conducts Elgar’s Serenade and Mendelssohn’s String Symphony. Featured is the Eastern Sierra premiere of Lux Aeterna for violin solo and strings, composed and performed by Ms. Newman. And the Eastern Sierra Woodwinds will play an “octet” of an 18th Century early “band” arrangement of Mozart’s Overture and Selections from the “Marriage of Figaro” for bassoon, French horn, clarinet and oboe.
And, of course, the Festival wouldn’t be complete without the Eastern Sierra Symphony Orchestra itself, in two performances of “Music from Enchanting Lands.” Led by veteran music director and legendary conductor Bogidar Avramov, the concerts will be staged in Mammoth Mountain Ski Area’s Mountainside Conference Center on Friday, Aug. 12, at 7 p.m., and Saturday, Aug. 13, at 8 p.m.
Immediately after the Friday evening concert the audience is cordially invited to meet with the musicians for punch and cookies, courtesy of the Mammoth Lakes Women’s Club. This year’s program opens with Aaron Copland’s folk-inspired Appalachian Spring. The rousing, patriotic anthem, Finlandia, by Jean Sibelius, and then with the music of Alexander Borodin it is off to The Steppes of Central Asia and the grandeur of imperial Russia in excerpts from Borodin’s celebrated opera, Prince Igor, with the flamboyant Overture and the mesmerizing Polovtsian Dances. Listen for some very recognizable melodies that have been “borrowed” from Borodin over the years. Special guests, the Eastern Sierra Community Choir will join forces with the orchestra in the show’s grand finale.
Hawks says Avramov loves his art and playing music in the Eastern Sierra, but also loves his musicians, many of which make the trip here just to play with him. “Many players from Los Angeles are ESSO regulars,” Hawk pointed out. “They come to play in Mammoth, but also to play with Bogidar. There’s no tension like there is with some conductors. Music just rolls off him, and it really inspires the group.”
Tickets are available online at www.sierrasummerfestival.org, at Mammoth Gallery locations and at the door.