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Baltimore's Other Orchestra: The Baltimore Mandolin Orchestra, An Illustrated History

By Mandolin Cafe
September 2, 2005 - 2:00 pm

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Baltimore's Other Orchestra: The Baltimore Mandolin Orchestra, An Illustrated History

Baltimore's Other Orchestra: The Baltimore Mandolin Orchestra, An Illustrated History

The Baltimore Mandolin Orchestra (BMO) is proud to announce the publication of an illustrated history of the orchestra, which has been entertaining Baltimoreans on and off since 1924. The book is hot off the press and is entitled 'Baltimore's Other Orchestra: The Baltimore Mandolin Orchestra, An Illustrated History." (Why Baltimore's "Other" Orchestra? So as to avoid confusing us with the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra!).

Along with the publication of the new book, BMO's website was recently redesigned and expanded. Included is a section on the history of the orchestra, which will provide a preview of what's in the book. Information about the book and the group's CD and how to order both can be found on the "Order Info" page at the website. The orchestra's concert schedule is also posted on the website.

"Baltimore's Other Orchestra" begins with the story of the formation of the orchestra in the mid 1920s by Baltimore music icon Conrad Gebelein. The first BMO concerts included, in addition to pieces by the mandolin orchestra itself, performances by Hawaiian guitarists and tenor banjoists, reflecting other types of music that were in vogue at the time. After some bleak years of inactivity during the Depression, the orchestra was revived again in the late 1930s by its original founder, this time as an all-girl orchestra. Then, after a long hiatus precipitated by the U.S. entry into World War II, Conrad Gebelein resurrected his orchestra for the third time in 1975 (he was 80 years old at the time!) and served as its director until his death. The orchestra has been going strong ever since. It now numbers about 30 players, and David T. Evans has been the conductor of the orchestra since 1986.

The city of Baltimore has had a colorful mandolin history over the last century, and a good part of it revolved around Conrad Gebelein. But until now, the story of his mandolin orchestra has not been documented. Aside from the informative narrative, the history book is filled with many interesting photographs dating back to 1925. In addition to lots of group shots of the orchestra over the years, there are images of old concert programs, newspaper clippings about the orchestra, and other materials from the orchestra's archive as well. An appendix contains a list of all the known players of the orchestra from 1925 to 2005. And for the die-hard mandolin buffs, there is also a photograph of the orchestra's rare 1924 Gibson Lloyd Loar K-5 mandocello, which is one of only six instruments of its type known to be in existence. The K-5 is still played at every BMO concert.

Baltimore Mandolin Orchestra web site:
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