• New Music from the East Tennessee State University Mandolin Orchestra

    East Tennessee State University Mandolin Orchestra

    JOHNSON CITY, TENN. — The East Tennessee State University Mandolin Orchestra has announced the released of their self-titled album. The ETSU Mandolin Orchestra, founded in 2014, is a course offered through the program in Bluegrass, Old-Time and Roots Music Studies (BLUE) that is housed in the Department of Appalachian Studies at East Tennessee State University.

    Director Lee Bidgood coaches mandolinists from a variety of backgrounds to cover a lot of ground: learning by ear, reading notation, learning about the history of mandolin orchestras, and exploring contemporary ways to continue the this tradition into the future.

    The group recorded for this project in 2017 consists of community members, undergraduate majors in the BLUE program, graduate students in Appalachian Studies, as well as students of Exercise Science and Geosciences. Some of the players have been doing it for decades — one started just a year before the recordings were made.

    The orchestra draws from vernacular traditions of the mandolin as well as American and international mandolin orchestras. They adapt older repertoire and make new connections, balancing musical and technical goals with the legacy of the mandolin orchestra as a social institution.


    From the recording, the track "Mandolin Rag / Take Those Lips Away." About this medley, from the liner notes: "ETSU colleague Adam Tanner introduced us to these pieces which Roberts (born Dock Philipine Roberts, 1897-1978) recorded on the mandolin. We spin these melodies into an ensemble arrangement, imagining links between “raggy” repertory and style and the mandolin orchestra ensemble."

    Track Listing

    • The Home Town Band
    • Bull Frog Blues
    • Sobre Las Olas
    • Noites Cariocas
    • Cold Morning Shout
    • Mandolin Rag / Take Those Lips Away
    • Black Cohosh
    • Duo des Fleurs
    • Mandolin Concerto in C major RV 425, Allegro
    • Svatbarska Ruchenitsa

    Additional Information

    Comments 1 Comment
    1. blidgood's Avatar
      blidgood -
      Thanks to the Cafe for featuring our group, and this recording!