Mandolin Orchestra

Christian McKee
Musical Director
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Thank You

The Oregon Mandolin Orchestra would like to extend our appreciation to an international audience and a cordial Southwest Portland church for celebrating the holiday season with us.

The OMO’s holiday concert on December 19 was live streamed to 90 screens stretching from British Columbia, Canada, to Germany, as well as from California to Texas, Wisconsin, Indiana, New York, Massachusetts and Florida. Many more viewers logged in from cities across Oregon and Washington.

Another 87 people attended in-person at St. Barnabas Episcopal Church, which generously hosted the concert.

"The OMO has a strong tradition of holiday concerts that sadly had to take a year off during 2020," said Christian McKee, OMO music director. "It was wonderful to be back with this repertoire and a gracious audience in 2021. So, here's to a harmonious and mandolin-filled 2022."

The orchestra already is preparing for a spring concert in Hillsboro.

During the concert, a St. Barnabas congregation member and friend of the orchestra ran the audio and video equipment that made online connections possible. The church also has provided the OMO with free weekly rehearsal space since June.

The concert opened with a performance by the OMO Chamber Ensemble, which nimbly leaped from Mozart and Schumann to Guaraldi’s "Christmas Time is Here."


The full orchestra then danced through a selection of perennial holiday favorites; "Bethena," a wistful Scott Joplin waltz; "Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring," a beloved J.S. Bach cantata; and two movements from Gustav Holst's "Moorside Suite."


The OMO also reprised "Oregonia," an original composition specially commissioned by the orchestra. The piece is especially moving for orchestra members because composer John Goodin, a close friend of the orchestra, passed away shortly after the OMO premiered the piece in September.

The orchestra is resuming weekly rehearsals in advance of the March 4 concert at
the Walters Cultural Arts Center in downtown Hillsboro. Check back for details.

Ring in the holiday season with the Oregon Mandolin Orchestra’s live/virtual concert


Who:  Oregon Mandolin Orchestra

What:   2021 Holiday Concert

When:  3 pm on Sunday, December 19, 2021

Live:  St. Barnabas Episcopal Church, 2201 S.W. Vermont St., Portland, Oregon

Virtual:  Zoom link: https://qrco.de/bcW77x

Download the Program 

Donation:  Suggested donation is $10 per person



The Oregon Mandolin Orchestra will be performing in a holiday concert this year, rebounding after COVID upended our plans in 2020. And we are ready to roll!

Concert-goers can attend in-person at 3 pm on Sunday, December 19, 2021, at St. Barnabas Episcopal Church, 2201 S.W. Vermont St., Portland, Oregon.


Or, the concert can be live-streamed online through Zoom.


The concert's wide-ranging program, assembled by OMO Music Director Christian McKee, will feature nostalgic holiday favorites sure to recall seasons past. To round out the program, McKee also has selected a graceful Scott Joplin rag, a beloved J.S. Bach cantata, a Yuletide mazurka from Italy and two movements of Gustav Holst's "Moorside Suite."


The OMO also will reprise a piece specially commissioned by the orchestra. The composition, entitled "Oregonia," was written and arranged by John Goodin, an Iowa-based composer whose work has been performed by mandolin orchestras around the world. "Oregonia" was created to evoke the dramatic landscapes of the Oregon Country and the lives of the people who call it home.


"Oregonia" is especially emotional for OMO members because Goodin passed away on October 7, less than three weeks after the orchestra performed the piece's world premiere.




To sign into the concert online through Zoom, use this link: https://qrco.de/bcW77x. No meeting ID is required.


Guests will have their video switched off and their sound muted as they enter a "waiting room," where they will remain until the concert begins at 3 p.m.


Our suggested donation is $10 per person.

We appreciate you joining us from the comfort of your homes -- wherever you are. Once the performance begins, please let us know where you are viewing from by using Zoom’s chat feature.





Founded in 2010, the Portland-based Oregon Mandolin Orchestra has successfully revived the tradition of community-based mandolin ensembles that were wildly popular across North America during the early 20th century. Today, the nonprofit orchestra boasts nearly 25 members who play first mandolin, second mandolin, mandola, mandocello, and mandobass. The OMO is one of just 50 orchestras recognized by the Classical Mandolin Society of America.


Since its launch, the Oregon Mandolin Orchestra has put on up to a half-dozen concerts a year in Portland, Vancouver, Salem, Hillsboro, Astoria, Hood River, Pendleton and Ridgefield, Washington. The orchestra has performed everything from Mozart to Led Zeppelin and regularly plays folk, swing jazz, Brazilian choro and selections from the Great American Songbook and Tin Pan Alley.


The OMO Chamber Ensemble has performed on KOAC and KBOO radio, as well as KGW-TV and KATU-TV.  The ensemble also has played before concerts by the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra, Portland Chamber Orchestra, Oregon Sinfonietta and Hillsboro Symphony Orchestra, as well as during opening festivities for the Oregon Bach Festival.





The late composer John Goodin said he was elated with the OMO’s 2021 world premiere performance of "Oregonia," a piece the orchestra commissioned Goodin to write. "Bravo OMO!! You made my piece sound great," he said. "I can't thank you all enough."


August Watters, a distinguished composer and a former professor at Berklee College of Music, complimented the Oregon Mandolin Orchestra's 2019 performance at the Portland Picnic wine-tasting festival. "Congratulations on your concert!" Watters said. "I was impressed by all the good work going on, and by your choice of repertoire for the ensemble."

In 2018, the OMO was one of only three American ensembles accepted to play at the BDZ Eurofestival in Bruchsal, Germany. The festival, held every four years, was established in 1963 to support the plucked-string music tradition. Hundreds of musicians from around the world performed at the festival.

concert review by Auftakt!, the festival magazine, praised the Oregon Mandolin Orchestra's technique, saying "fulminating, swelling tremolos" gave pieces "a noticeable dramatic effect." The review went on to say the performance "gave the listeners visions of a majestic landscape and captivated them entirely."





For interviews or questions, please contact:


Christian McKee, Oregon Mandolin Orchestra music director: omomckee@gmail.com or 503-891-1226


Michael Tognetti, mandolinist, Oregon Mandolin Orchestra board president: president@oregonmandolinorchestra.org or 360-521-0255.



Follow the Oregon Mandolin Orchestra online:


Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/OregonMandolinOrchestra/)


Twitter (https://twitter.com/OregonMandoOrch)


Instagram (https://www.instagram.com/oregonmandolinorchestra/)


YouTube (https://bit.ly/3pSeuWm)

Farewell to a Beloved Member of the Nation's Mandolin Community

John Goodin.1.jpg

It is with great sadness that the Oregon Mandolin Orchestra announces the death of composer John Goodin, whose skill at expressing America’s musical soul was matched only by his generosity and good will.


Goodin, who penned “Oregonia” on commission for the orchestra, died Thursday in his home state of Iowa. Cause of death was not released. The OMO performed the world premiere of “Oregonia” to wide acclaim as the finale of its September 12, 2021 virtual concert.

Photo Courtesy of Toppling Goliath Brewing Co. of Decorah, Iowa.

Goodin, a skillful mandolinist and guitarist, cut quite a swath through the music world, not only as a composer, but also as an arranger and author. He wrote several books of original music and arrangements for Mel Bay Publications. He also released at least nine CDs that included original compositions, as well arrangements of pieces by 18th-century composers Georg Philipp Telemann of Germany and William Bates of England.

Goodin’s original compositions were performed by mandolin orchestras across the country. Though each piece is distinct, all share common roots in the American folk songbook, emphasizing the melody lines and harmonies that sprang from the breadth of the American experience.

However, it was Goodin’s grace and seemingly boundless generosity that reflected America’s better side. Goodin offered much of his music for free on his website, Mandotopia, or for a small voluntary donation. He wrote personal thank-you messages to anyone who paid. “John was quick with a handshake and a smile if he knew you -- and even quicker if he didn't,” said mandolinist Michael Tognetti, OMO board president. “I’m heartbroken to hear of his death but I’m grateful that John’s legacy will live on through his compositions.”


Besides “Oregonia,” the OMO performed Goodin’s “Heaven’s On Earth” suite and “North Georgia Hills” over the years. Goodin was an original member of the Louisville Mandolin Orchestra, joining in 1988. He quit only when his “day job” forced him to move to Decorah, Iowa. He immediately joined Contratopia, a local ensemble dedicated to the contra dance music of the Midwest. He also played with the folk group Foot-Notes, which is featured at the Decorah’s annual Nordic Fest.


He remained an active participant in the Classical Mandolin Society of America and was well-received at the organization’s annual conventions for many years until the meetings moved online due to COVID concerns.

Perhaps most importantly, Goodin worked to revive and invigorate the tradition of community mandolin orchestras that were widespread across North America in the early 20th century. His “Deer Tracks” CD offers pieces that almost any beginner can play while learning how to contribute to the sound of a larger ensemble.

“There was always something sparkling and lively about his music, but still gentle and humble like his personality,” said mandocellist Jim Imhoff, a professor of music education for Boston University. “Thank you, John, and rest in Mandotopian peace.”

John Goodin. 2.jpeg

Photo Courtesy of Louisville Mandolin Orchestra.

We're Back!

After a long COVID-triggered layoff, the Oregon Mandolin Orchestra has eagerly resumed weekly rehearsals with an eye toward presenting a virtual concert this fall, followed by a run of live holiday-season shows. Dates, times, and locations still are in the planning stage, but all will help reunite the OMO with audiences in the Portland metro area.


Meanwhile, The Oregon Mandolin Orchestra is proud to present our modern visualization of “Song of Japanese Autumn,” by Yasuo Kuwahara (1946 – 2003), a renowned composer of pieces for mandolin and guitar. The piece was written to evoke the struggle Japanese farmers face in the fall, when the changing weather brings howling gales and heavy rains. Then, as the nasty weather subsides, the piece then reflects the countryside’s comforting serenity.

We hope you enjoy “Song of Japanese Autumn,” and we hope to see you at one of our upcoming concerts.

Happy New Year!

To kick off 2021 right, the OMO is offering this archive recording of "North Georgia Hills," a piece that embodies hope in the American spirit.


"North Georgia Hills" was written by John Goodin, an Iowa-based composer and musician whose work has been performed by mandolin orchestras across the country. Though each piece is distinct, all share common roots in the American folk songbook, emphasizing the melody lines and harmonies that sprang from the American experience.


The OMO’s performance of "North Georgia Hills" was part of the Portland Community College Rock Creek Experience Music Series. The series is put on in conjunction with the PCC Rock Creek Tuesday evening Music Appreciation Class.

OMO Stocking Stuffer

Christian McKee, Oregon Mandolin Orchestra music director, has cooked up a special four-layer musical dessert sure to brighten Christmas celebrations.

Working in his home studio, McKee recorded J.S. Bach’s Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring, playing all four parts of a mando-quartet arrangement – first mandolin, second mandolin, mandola, and mandocello.


McKee, who has led the OMO since 2017, recorded each part separately, then mixed them into one inspired-sounding audio track.


Joy, is part of Bach’s Cantata No. 147 and remains one of the best-known Baroque-era pieces performed during the Yuletide.

From Our Homes To Yours

Nothing captures the spirit of Christmas better than homemade, surprise gifts crafted with love.

That’s why the Oregon Mandolin Orchestra is posting two video Christmas cards to our Audience entitled “From Our Homes to Yours.”


The videos were created by orchestra members recording their parts solo — in their homes. Next, Christmas magic was applied to mix and fine tune the parts into Yuletide performances. 

Christmas Card #1 -- Christmas Time is Here will be available on Tuesday, December 8, 2020 at 6:00 pm (PDT)

Christmas Card #2 -- Holly Jolly Christmas will be available on Monday, December 21, 2020 at 6:00 pm (PDT)

We hope you enjoy these videos as much as we did creating them. 

Merry Christmas, from our homes to yours! 

From The Archives...

The Oregon Mandolin Orchestra performs Drume Negrita, Elisio Grenet and arranged by Charles Whitman.


This performance was part of the Portland Community College Rock Creek Experience Music Series.


This series is put on in conjunction with the PCC Rock Creek Tuesday evening Music Appreciation Class.

Dance Of The Skeletons

The Oregon Mandolin Orchestra is kicking off the Halloween season with the enduringly spooky “Dance of the Skeletons,” a tune that has chilled audiences for nearly 120 years.

Composer Thomas S. Allen’s timeless piece accents the music’s drama with surprise sound effects. The OMO video then combines that ghostly musical mix with an array of eerie visual effects sure to make your hairs stand up.

Allen was born in Natick, Massachusetts, in 1876 and established himself as a violinist. He soon began composing for America’s vaudeville stages, the most popular form of entertainment before films or radio. He wrote “Dance of the Skeletons” in 1901, experimenting – successfully – with shifting minor-key and major-key phrases to build suspense.

Before he died in Boston in 1919, Allen composed many songs that have become old favorites, including “Low Bridge, Everybody Down” (often called “The Erie Canal Song”) and “Whip and Spurs,” still played at parades and rodeos.

Trick or treat – if you dare!

Cartwright Emergency Fundraiser

A special Facebook page has been launched to help Ken Cartwright, a longtime mainstay of Western Oregon’s music scene, who lost his home to the wildfires raging east of Salem.

The special page, Cartwright Emergency Fundraiser (http://bitly.ws/9GX4) is accepting donations to get Cartwright and his wife, Jan, back on their feet. They were forced to evacuate when high winds pushed the flames toward their Gates- area home.

The Cartwrights are temporarily staying with friends in Stayton, where they arrived with only the shirts on their backs.

Ken Cartwright, a musician and luthier, runs an instrument-repair business and serves as program director for KYAC community radio. Over the years, he helped the Oregon Mandolin Orchestra put on two concerts in Salem.

The Santiam Fire, also called the Beachie Creek Fire, broke out August 16 in the Opal Creek Wilderness Area of the Willamette National Forest. The fire exploded in size Monday, when strong wind gusts fanned the flames, pushing the blaze westward through the Santiam River Valley.

Virtual Performance

The Oregon Mandolin Orchestra is proud to present a virtual performance of “Galop” by Dmitri Shostakovich, brought to you through a little cyber magic.


Diligently practicing social distancing, orchestra members played their parts alone, then submitted them so they could be compiled into a virtual ensemble performance.


“Galop” was one of 12 pieces Shostakovich (1906-1975) composed for the film soundtrack of “The Gadfly,” a Soviet historical drama released in 1955. The film tells the story of the Italian underground resisting invaders from the Austrian Empire in the 1830s. The story focuses on the journey of an innocent young man whose experiences transform him into a revolutionary known as The Gadfly.

We had a lot of fun creating this video and hope you enjoy the performance!

From The Archives...

The Oregon Mandolin Orchestra performs Santa Morena, composed by Jacob De Bandolim and arranged by Charles Whitman.


This performance was part of the Portland Community College Rock Creek Experience Music Series.


This series is put on in conjunction with the PCC Rock Creek Tuesday evening Music Appreciation Class.

Done For The Season, But We'll Be Back...

To Our Friends,

The Oregon Mandolin Orchestra has determined that we should cancel the remainder of its 2020 Concert Season in the interest of health and safety.

This was a very hard decision to make as OMO members really love performing for all of you in a live setting.  However, it is a decision we feel is in the best interest of all our players as well as our audience.

Meanwhile, the OMO will continue working on online projects over the course of 2020, allowing us to come together virtually and to bring sweet mandolin music to you.  Our music director, Christian McKee, and our members are currently working on a “COVID, Socially Distanced” video to be released this summer, as well as releasing some previously recorded concert pieces.

Also this year, as we move into our 2021 Season, we are compiling and polishing live recordings of concert performances to create a new CD.  Additionally, we will be bringing a “World Premiere” to the stage in 2021, performing an original, commissioned composition by renowned mandolin composer John Goodin.


While we are saddened to not see you all in-person during 2020, we hope you will enjoy our online offerings this year and be ready for a great live and in person performances in 2021.

Don't Forget The Venues!

Since COVID-19 has forced many concerts to cancel, many music lovers have helped to support cash-strapped artists through donations.

While applauding that generosity, the Oregon Mandolin Orchestra would like to point out an often-overlooked part of the equation – concert venues.

“It’s easy to forget the venues,” said Michael Tognetti, OMO Board president.  “But if they don’t host concerts, they don’t take in any revenue.  That can be devastating for nonprofit venues, which generally operate on small margins while bringing music to the community.”

Tognetti and the OMO Board are urging music fans and supporters of the arts to consider donations to:

  • The Old Church Concert Hall – 1422 S.W. 11th Ave., Portland, OR  97201 

Donations can made through The Old Church website: https://bit.ly/3drBfqD   Gift cards can be purchased by visiting https://squ.re/2AcJ4Ci

More information:503-222-2031.staff@theoldchurch.org


  • Artichoke Music -- 2007 S.E. Powell Blvd., Portland, OR 97202

Donations can be made through the Artichoke website:https://bit.ly/2WENbhR

More information:503-232-8845.rth@artichokemusic.org


  • National Independent Venue Association – 1 Penn Plaza #6263, New York, N.Y.  10119

The association is lobbying Congress to support vulnerable venues, especially those that may be unable to reopen unless they receive help after the lockdowns and social distancing are lifted.

Petitions can be signed on the NIVA website:https://bit.ly/2WJlhBk

More information:info@nivassoc.org

Support The Arts

As America fights the novel coronavirus, artists have been forced to make some of
the biggest sacrifices when concerts are canceled and performance venues are shut

The Oregon Mandolin Orchestra urges all to donate to support the arts and help
artists during this trying time. Here are some suggestions:

  • COVID-19 Oregon Musicians’ Relief Fund -- The fund was established to help with medical bills and other unexpected costs faced by musicians in Oregon and in Clark County, Washington.

  • Artichoke Music -- This nonprofit music school, shop and performance café has
    helped thousands of budding musicians over the years to learn in a supportive environment.


  • Portland Area Artist Emergency Relief Fund -- Oregon Poet Laureate Kim Stafford co-established this found to help artists in Multnomah, Washington, and Clackamas counties who have been affected by COVID-19.

  • Regional Arts & Culture Council -- Donations to the fund will be distributed directly to individual artists and creative workers in need.

  • Musicians Foundation Grants -- Costs incurred by musicians are covered by these grants. The grants are not paid to musicians.

Our Roots

The Oregon Mandolin Orchestra is dedicated to bringing the beauty of mandolin music to audiences while providing opportunities for local musicians to perform.

The mandolin was the most popular instrument in America in the early 1900s. That love affair fully bloomed when mandolin orchestras sprang up in cities across the country, enchanting concert-goers with a distinctive collective tinkle of musical rain.

Although tastes shifted over the years, appreciation of the mandolin was rekindled during the Folk Revival of the 60s. This set the stage for the Oregon Mandolin Orchestra, which was founded by Brian Oberlin and Elizabeth Farrell in 2010.

Today, the nonprofit, all-volunteer Oregon Mandolin Orchestra counts two dozen dues-paying members who play mandolin, mandola, mandocello and mandobass – all the varied voices of the mandolin instrument family.  Acoustic guitars and upright string basses occasionally round out the mix.


Our Leadership

Christian McKee, Musical Director, has made music since childhood, playing Suzuki violin as a youngster, and singing in choirs until the age of eighteen. Since then, Christian has toured and performed on the West coast in multiple ensembles on mandolin, mandola and mandocello.


Christian believes that at its best, music is a true conversation amongst the musicians that is shared with the audience and guided by the vision of the composer. Best of all, like any good conversation live music is pleasantly unpredictable and different each time. Christian brings a great deal of enthusiasm to his role as the Orchestra’s musical director, and invites everyone in the Pacific Northwest to enjoy this beautiful music along with us.

If you are interested in performing with the Oregon Mandolin Orchestra, contact Christian at christian@oregonmandolinorchestra.org.

Contact Us

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Oregon Mandolin Orchestra 

P.O. Box 1783 

Portland, OR