The Mandolin Orchestra is currently based in South Hadley, Massachusetts. The brainchild of musician and teacher Adam R Sweet, its first incarnation took place in Keene, NH in October of 1998, when Sweet was a teacher at the Keene Institute for Music and Related Arts. He moved it to South Hadley in 2011.
One of the primary goals of the Mandolin Orchestra is to provide unique educational opportunities for mandolin enthusiasts of all ages and levels of expertise.
We have other aspirations: .
- Our South Hadley base makes us eager to play a role in the “Rise of the Falls” that has been inspired by the opening in the village of South Hadley Falls of a new public library with a dramatic overlook of the dam and its spillway.
- Our musical connections throughout the region have led to a vision of a larger “Mandolin New England” venture that links our orchestra with other mandolin ensembles. The January 17 concert will include players from Rhode Island’s L’Esperance Mandolin Ensemble and Mando Paradiso, a Northampton-based group.
- At the macro level, we are looking to inspire a revival of participatory music here in the Valley, and the mandolin is the perfect vehicle. One hundred years ago when the Gibson mandolin was almost as popular as the Fender guitar is today, there were mandolin ensembles at Amherst and Smith colleges, and vibrant mandolin groups in Holyoke and Springfield and all over the country. In the years since, our over-reliance on radio and iTunes to meet our musical needs has left us spectators rather than actors in our musical lives, and that does not have to be. People of the rising Millennial Generation are active and daring, whether it be rock-climbing, skate boarding, or riding a zip-line in Costa Rica. There’s nothing more daring than playing a mandolin solo in concert. And we want to make that simple and accessible, because it’s great fun, too.
- A key strategy for us is what we call Play to Own. A new player can play in orchestra rehearsals free, and we’ll even loan them a mandolin to take home to practice. Then, if they are smitten by the experience, they can become a student member, demonstrate a real commitment through active study of the instrument, and become the owner of the instrument over time.