Oregon

Mandolin Orchestra

Christian McKee
Musical Director
 
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From the Archives: A Taste of the OMO
at the Alberta Rose Theatre

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Chicago (Listen)

This performance comes to you from the Alberta Rose Theater in Portland Oregon on April 13, 2013, and is led by our then conductor/founder Brian Oberlin. Our version of Fred Fisher’s tune from the 1920s; “Chicago”. This tune would go on to become the title track from the musical Chicago. For this performance, our featured soloist is the renowned Jazz mandolinist and friend Don Stiernberg and is presented to celebrate the Spring 2022 and the re-opening of Broadway following the Covid Pandemic.

 

Surrey With The Fringe on Top (Listen

This performance also comes to you from the Alberta Rose Theater in Portland Oregon on April 13, 2013, and is led by our then conductor/founder Brian Oberlin. Our version of Fred Fisher’s tune from the 1920s; “Chicago”. This tune would go on to become the title track from the musical Chicago. For this performance, our featured soloist is the renowned Jazz mandolinist and friend Don Stiernberg and is presented to celebrate the Spring 2022 and the re-opening of Broadway following the Covid Pandemic.

Why Mandolins?

MODERN TAKE ON A TRADITIONAL AMERICAN ART FORM

 

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.

 

 

GLOWING REVIEWS

 

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."

 

 

CONTACT INFORMATION

 

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

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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.”

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Photo Courtesy of Louisville Mandolin Orchestra.

A Look Back

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!

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.

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

97207