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ABOUT US

Mill Valley Philharmonic

 

Our Mission

The mission of Mill Valley Philharmonic is to enrich the cultural life of Marin County by providing access to quality orchestral programs to people of all ages and means in their own communities.

 

As an organization, we believe that music is a vital part of individual and community life. Whether participating as a player or a listener, music engages our imaginative powers, awakens our aesthetic sensibilities, and inspires our creative expression.

Community Accessibility & Visibility

Everyone is welcome to MVP concerts, regardless of an individual's ability to pay. 

Performance Venues

We provide audiences with an intimate concert experience, performing in high-quality, small venues that create a strong bond between players and listeners. 

Programming

MVP engages listeners through innovative thematic programming, featuring repertoire that ranges from recognized masterworks to world premieres. 

Education & Outreach

We are dedicated to building the next generation of classical music devotees through innovative educational experiences for youth in local schools.  MVP includes audience education in every performance to expand the audience's enjoyment and understanding of the music. 

Audience & Artist Experience

We introduce local soloists and composers to their home audience, strengthening the community bond between artist and listener. 

Collaborations

MVP collaborates with other non-profit cultural and community partners to achieve mutually beneficial goals. 

Orchestra Member Experience

We provide dedicated volunteer musicians the opportunity to rehearse and perform orchestral repertoire at the highest level.

 

Our History

Mill Valley Philharmonic was founded by Laurie Cohen in Fall 2000. Starting with 15 string players, the ensemble quickly grew to a full orchestra of 60 auditioned, volunteer musicians. Audiences started small, but today more than 3,500 people attend MVP concerts each season.

 

In its 19-year history, MVP has performed over 180 concerts, playing in every Marin County community, as well as in varied venues around the Bay Area (e.g. Treasure Island; Bay Model in Sausalito; Discovery Museum; and Angel Island). In addition to standard orchestral repertoire, MVP prides itself on having commissioned and presented 20 world premieres by emerging composers. Local professional soloists, including several from the San Francisco Symphony, perform regularly with MVP. And, numerous performing arts groups have collaborated with MVP, ranging from a Gamelan orchestra to flamenco dancers, a Miwok Indian leader, and several local choruses.

 

Education plays a prominent role in MVP’s concerts. Informative talks and orchestral demonstrations have been a part of each performance, helping the audience to better appreciate what they are about to hear. Creative, thematic programming has also been a highlight of MVP’s concert seasons, allowing the audience to make connections between the varied compositions. A sampling of MVP’s thematic programming during our 18 seasons includes: Music and Murals of the Works Progress Administration (performed in WPA architectural sites); Rain Dance (MVP’s offerings to End the Drought); Music from the 1915 Panama Pacific Exposition; East meets West at the 1889 Paris World’s Fair (Gamelan’s influence on Western composers); and a Local Parks Tour (outdoor performances of American composers in local state and national parks).

 

Artistic Director & Conductor

Dana Sadava

Dana Sadava enjoys a varied career as a conductor of both opera and symphonic music. In addition to her work with Mill Valley Philharmonic, Ms. Sadava serves on the faculty of the San Francisco Conservatory of Music as a conductor and coach in the Opera Theatre department and is the Artistic Director of Pasadena Opera. Passionate about music education, she is the Director of Chamber Music at The Urban School and accompanies vocalists at the San Francisco Opera’s education events. Recently she made her debut with the San Diego Symphony and taught courses on Classical music through Santa Clara University’s Osher Lifelong Learning Institute. She has worked with Opera San Jose, University of California San Diego, Wexford Opera (Ireland), Banff Opera as Theatre, Indianapolis Opera, Pensacola Opera, Cinnabar Theater, and Festival Opera. She studied conducting with Kenneth Kiesler at the University of Michigan, where she earned a Masters degree on a merit scholarship. She studied piano with Dorothy Hwang at the Colburn School and Gabriel Chodos at the Aspen Music Festival. Before delving into musical life, Ms. Sadava earned an undergraduate degree in aeronautics and literature from Caltech. She lives in San Rafael with her husband, Jim Stopher, along with their cat, Darla, and dog, Summer. 

Founder & Conductor Emeritus

2000-2018

Laurie Cohen

Laurie Cohen began her conducting studies at San Francisco State University in 1999.  She studied with Maestri Urs Leonhardt Steiner, David Ramadanoff, Alan Hazeldine and Kenneth Keisler, and attended conducting workshops around the world. She was assistant conductor of the San Francisco Community Music Center Orchestra from 2000 to 2004.  Cohen started Mill Valley Philharmonic in the fall of 2000. She received a Creative Achievement Award, the Milley, from the Mill Valley Art Commission in 2006; also in 2006, the orchestra received a MetLife/American Symphony Orchestra League award for Community Engagement.  In 2009, Cohen received a Distinguished Alumna Award from Berklee College of Music in the area of service to the community.

 

Board of Directors & Staff

PRESIDENT

Elizabeth Dinsel

Elizabeth Dinsel is a management consultant and technology executive with deep leadership and governance experience.  She specializes in leading both corporate and non-profit organizations through transformational change. Elizabeth has been playing clarinet (with a stint in the percussion section) for MVP since 2003.  She joined the Board in 2012 to lead the Business Partnership program and was elected president in 2015.

SECRETARY

Nance F. Becker

​Nance Becker is recently retired from her long-time career as a civil attorney. She has been MVP's principal flutist since 2002, and also performs with the Presidio Woodwind Quintet, local musical theatre groups, and other chamber ensembles. Nance joined the MVP Board in 2005. In addition to the role of Secretary, she works on communications and special events and advises the Board about legal issues.

TREASURER

Beth Maxon

Beth Maxon has lived in Marin County for over 20 years. She studied music business and flute at Wheaton College Conservatory of Music, and earned an MBA from University of San Diego. Beth has dedicated her career to working with local nonprofits and schools. She has played flute and piccolo with MVP for almost 10 years and joined the Board of Directors in 2018.

BOARD MEMBER

​Seth Jaffe

Seth Jaffe is Executive Vice President and General Counsel of Levi Strauss & Co., and is responsible for all aspects of legal, ethics and compliance, global security, and governance matters. He advises the board and executive management and  also oversees the Levi Strauss Foundation. Seth serves on several non-profit boards. Seth is timpanist and percussionist of MVP, having joined the orchestra in 2001, its second year.

BOARD MEMBER

Jay Williams

Jay Williams graduated from the University of California, Berkeley, where he played flute and earned a degree in music. He taught at the East Bay Center for the Performing Arts, then earned an MBA and moved to the business world. In his 50’s he began to play French Horn. He found a home in the MVP horn section in 2008, for which he is eternally grateful. He served on MVP's Artistic Director search committee, and joined the Board soon after. When he’s not practicing the horn, Jay is enjoying Marin County’s twisty roads on his motorcycle.

OPERATIONS MANAGER

Elena Sloman

Elena Sloman is a freelance oboist and arts administrator in the greater Bay Area.  Based in Sonoma County, she is also a music teacher, conductor, photographer, and graphic artist.  She earned her master's degree from the Eastman School of Music and her Bachelor's from the USC Thornton School of Music, summa cum laude.  Elena joined MVP's staff in June 2020 and looks forward to helping the operations facilitate the orchestra's mission and music-making.

Honorary Board

 

Richard Aldag

MVP EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR EMERITUS & COMPOSER

​Stan Green

NON-PROFIT LEADER

Kathryn Martin

LEADERSHIP TRANSITION STRATEGIST & COACH

Sashi McEntee

VICE MAYOR, MILL VALLEY

Orchestra Members

 

Violin I

Charmian Stewart, Concertmaster

Rachel Carlin

Steve Glanz

Ruth Koenig

Bert Thunstrom

Diana Parnell

Eric van Boer

David Grote

Violin II

Matt Meldorf

Denise Ruelas

Rob Bartlett

Emil Gluekler

Harriett Spiegel

Lua Parle

Tiana Wimmer

 

Viola

Margot Limm

Christina Schunemann

Louis Allin

Violoncello

Marian Schuchman

David Lakes

Merrie Jaffe

Sarah Steen

Paula Monsef

Anneke Castro

Victoria Ellsworth

Elizabeth Musser

 

Double Bass

Andius Jent

Blake Richardson

Lyn Giovanniello


Flute

Nance Becker

Beth Maxon

Mimi Braverman

Oboe

Brian Thompson

Susan Ritter

 

Clarinet

Rachel Dusenbury

Elizabeth Dinsel

 

Bassoon

Steven Peterson

Michael Stern

 

Horn

Mary Jane Evans

Jay Williams

Jon Oldfather

Erin Egan

​Trumpet

Jeff Foster

Ryan Hoverman

 

Trombone

Tetsuya Endo

Carol Stern

Steve Dollison

 

Timpani

Seth Jaffe

Become a member of the

Mill Valley Philharmonic family

Marin County's Premiere Volunteer Orchestra

 
Wedding Band

Our Mission

The mission of Mill Valley Philharmonic is to enrich the cultural life of Marin County by providing access to quality orchestral programs to people of all ages and means in their own communities.

CONTACT US

EMAIL:

info@millvalleyphilharmonic.org

PHONE:

(415) 383-0930

ADDRESS:

Mill Valley Philharmonic

38 Miller Avenue,  #474

Mill Valley, CA 94941

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Mill Valley Philharmonic is a 501(c)(3) non profit corporation (tax ID #13-4227208)

© 2020 by Mill Valley Philharmonic