Award-winning conductor Laurie Cohen founded Mill Valley Philharmonic in the Fall of 2000, and for nearly two decades, the MVP has delighted Marin audiences at over 180 concerts, including more than a dozen world premieres of works by emerging composers and programs that run the gamut of classical orchestral music, flamenco dance music and more.
Now, the MVP is embarking on a new chapter with recently appointed artistic director and conductor Dana Sadava, who leads the philharmonic in a holiday concert next month.
Trained as a pianist, Sadava began conducting in grad school when composer friends needed conductors. “I fell in love with it,” Sadava says. “I fell in love with being able to look people in the eyes when you’re making music with them and help them play their best.”
Sadava’s resume includes serving on the faculty of the San Francisco Conservatory of Music’s opera theatre department, directing the Community Women’s Orchestra in Oakland and Pasadena Opera, and more.
“I do have a trajectory that’s firmly in both the orchestral and opera worlds,” Sadava says. “I really can’t give either one of them up, so I try to make time for everything.”
Sadava became a fan of the Mill Valley Philharmonic as soon as she moved to Marin five years ago. “It’s so nice to have such a good orchestra as a Marin resident,” she says. “I go to Mill Valley Philharmonic concerts and Marin Symphony concerts and enjoy all of them.”
Sadava is also inspired by the Mill Valley Philharmonic’s history and growth over the last 19 years. “My ears always prick up when I hear that a dynamic female conductor started an orchestra that is thriving,” she says.
When the opportunity came up to audition for MVP artistic director, Sadava jumped at it. The entire hiring process took over a year, not unusual for an orchestra, and Sadava says each finalist got to work with the MVP for an entire concert.
“They knew what they were in for when they hired me,” she says. “By that time they really got to know each candidate very well.”
As the artistic director, Sadava wants to build on the MVP’s visibility in Marin County and the North Bay.
“I like the idea of performing not just for our neighbors in Mill Valley but all over in Marin,” she says. In addition to a larger geographical reach, Sadava also wants to reach more families and young audiences and she sees the upcoming holiday concert as a chance to do just that.
“We want to reach out to anyone who wants to hear great holiday music and provide a place for people to relax and have fun,” Sadava says. “It’s been a pretty stressful fire season in the North Bay, and I’m hoping we can gather together at these concerts and look forward to a new year.”