The Moonlight Mandolin Orchestra
The Moonlight Mandolin Orchestra started life in around 2002 as a group of three or four pupils, who attended a mandolin evening class which I was running for Cambridgeshire Music. (There was an upsurge of interest in the mandolin at the time, partly as the result of the success of the novel “Captain Corelli’s Mandolin” by Louis de Bernieres). The class went through various venues and personnel changes, but gradually a solid core of keen and committed players emerged, and in 2004 we decided to stop being a teaching group and focus on rehearsing for performances instead.
Numbers grew – at the first rehearsal we had six players (all mandolins), by the second session it was nine (including two guitarists). These days we have a solid core of around 15 players – mandolins, mandolas, guitars and double bass – and a number of other players who join us when they can.
Our first concerts were very local affairs, with small audiences consisting overwhelmingly of partners and family of the players. Gradually our confidence (and our audience) grew. We planned larger concerts in conjunction other local music groups, and started to involve guest soloists – for example we have performed concertos with flute and with classical guitar.
We started to travel more too – the orchestra has competed at several national festivals run by the BMG – making new friends, getting new ideas for repertoire, and bringing home a certain amount of silverware – and members of the MMO have been stalwarts in larger regional ensembles such as the London Mandolin Ensemble.
In 2010 I handed over the musical directing and conducting of the group to Anna Langley, who led the group very capably from that time until the middle of 2018, always expanding the group’s repertoire and doing a good deal of splendid, highly customised arranging for us). I have taken over the Musical Director role again as of Summer 2018.
We are always on the lookout for new players, so if you are a mandolin player (or a guitarist – or a violinist who would like to try mandolin!) then do contact me if you would be interested in joining us. I or one of the other players would always be happy to give you a few lessons if you need a bit of input to begin with. The orchestra caters for quite a range of abilities, but please note that you do need to be comfortable reading music.
Here’s a sampler selected from recordings of our live concerts