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Mandolins in Venice Concert by Sarasota Mandolin Orchestra

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MandolinA unique musical concert of "Mandolins in Venice" is sponsored by the Italian American Club at its concert hall in Venice, Forida. Joseph Spinella will conduct the Sarasota Mandolin Orchestra for a one-night only special performance on Wednesday, February 13, 2012.

The Sarasota Mandolin Orchestra consists of 14-members and plays music arranged for 1st and 2nd mandolin, mandola, mando-cello, guitar, bass dorma, percussion and voice. Led by Music Director Joseph Spinella, the SMO's repertoire focuses on the best in traditional mandolin orchestra music (waltzes, tangos, marches and polkas) plus light classical, modern, Italian and Latin numbers. The SMO regularly performs their traditional repertoire at music festivals, art galleries, country clubs, retirement halls and concert halls around Sarasota and occasionally outside the State of Florida.

Members of the SMO span various age groups, come from all walks of life and enjoy diverse occupations. Yet, they are bound together by a desire to promote the mandolin and to keep traditional music alive. The music is lyrical and entertaining; and audiences enjoy the familiar tremolo technique associated with the mandolin.

"Mandolin orchestras have been quite popular in Europe, especially Italy. So this program that we have planned for the Italian Club of Venice is full of traditional pieces written specifically for plucked-instrument orchestras," explains Joseph Spinella, the conductor since 2010.

In addition to conducting, Mr. Spinella also performs a few songs, such as "Funiculi Funicula" and the perennial favorite, "O Sole Mio," as part of the show. Mr. Spinella is also a tenor and a graduate of the Manhattan School of Music in New York City. Discovered by Paul Nadler, one of the Metropolitan Opera conductors, Mr. Spinella was invited to work with Metropolitan Opera coaches in NYC. This began his regular sessions with Joan Dorneman, Luciano Pavarotti's vocal coach of thirty years. He has participated in Master Classes with Birgit Nielsen, Eleanor Steber, and Regina Resnik. His tenor voice quality was described by Princeton's weekly newspaper, Town Topics, as "a solid Metropolitan Opera level performer."

"It's a bit of multi-tasking," Spinella says, "but the mellifluous tones from the strings actually support and highlight the voice. Audiences seem to enjoy this interplay of singer, conductor and orchestra; so we make it fun. Our goal is to keep this tradition alive and introduce the mandolin orchestra to new generations of audiences."

Although stringed instruments go back to ancient times, the mandolin first appeared in Italy in the 17th and 18th century derived from modifications to the lute. The small size and portability made this an easy instrument for traveling musicians throughout Europe. The Neapolitan mandolin is easily recognized because of its almond-shaped and smoothly-rounded back, but mandolins come in a variety of styles.

Mandolin music almost went out of style in the late 1700's. Orchestras and composers preferred stringed instruments, like the violin and cello, which produced sustained musical notes. However, with the introduction of the tremolo style of playing and the transportability of the instrument, many musicians and local communities kept mandolin music popular.

In the 1960's, mandolins experienced a resurgence with the folk and traditional music. Today, the mandolin is a popular instrument for Celtic, bluegrass, jazz, and classical genres; and many recordings of mandolin virtuosos have been made in the last decade.

The Italian American Club of Venice looks forward to sponsoring this mandolin orchestra concert as part of their mission and goals. In addition to their charitable acts and community support, the club wants to foster and encourage knowledge of the language, art, culture and history of Italy, and to foster an understanding of that cultural heritage in our country.

The Italian American Club of Venice is located at 1375 Ringling Dr, Venice, FL 34285-4116. The concert starts at 7 pm. Tickets are $12 for members and $17 for guests. Call (941) 412-4287 to purchase tickets.

The Sarasota Mandolin Orchestra brightens Sarasota and its regional artistic area with marvelous performances to enthusiastic crowds of mandolin and music aficionados. Through the planning and directing of our conductor, Maestro Joseph Spinella, the S.M.O. shares inspiring music of the past and present with people of all backgrounds and interests. For additional information on upcoming tour dates and concerts, please join us on

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