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The Oregon Mandolin Orchestra

28 Jun

The musicians gathered on stage for their bimonthly rehearsal at the Glenn and Viola Walters Cultural Arts Center in Hillsboro, Ore.

The lights shone down on the performers, glinting off their instruments and casting long shadows across the polished wooden floors.

The music director raised his hands, and the plucking of the mandolins began — a melodious blend of notes singing the beginning lines of Reinhold Gliere’s “Russian Sailors’ Dance.”

The Oregon Mandolin Orchestra began in January 2010, led by Brian Oberlin – a self-taught musician. His first conducting experience, Oberlin said the orchestra has seen many faces come and go. The orchestra has retained its numbers, however, at about 25 members.

The mandolin orchestra performs four to seven concerts per year, which consists of about three concert series. Oberlin said the group practices for months to learn the music for a single concert.

Oberlin started acquiring music when the orchestra first began. Now, he said he has about 400 pieces collected in his music library, with many of these pieces still waiting to be played by the orchestra. When preparing for a new concert series, Oberlin said he pulls out several different pieces and presents them to the group. They then decide which songs they like and want to perform.

The current concert the mandolin orchestra is rehearsing includes “Stars and Stripes Forever” by J. P. Sousa, “Tarantella” by Agide Jacchia and “Prelude in C-Sharp Minor” by Sergei Rachmaninoff.

The orchestra’s next performance is scheduled in October. They will be performing in Hillsboro at the Walters Cultural Art Center and in Portland at the First Unitarian Church.

For more information, go to

I also found a video on YouTube that shows the orchestra in action.

Until next time,