18 May 2012

One plucky band

I heard the Canberra Mandolin Orchestra in concert today. I’ve known of this band for some time, but never seen them. Mandolin has a modest reputation but it was a surprisingly interesting outing. The whole orchestra was not there, but they had two mandolin parts (1st and 2nd) plus mandola and double bass and acoustic guitar. They also have mandocello players but not at this gig. Just like a string section! Finally, I understand what a mandola is. Obviously mandola as in viola; and mandocello, as in … you guessed it. It’s a very different sound. Plucky, totally unsustained, except when they play their classic rapid picking. The leader, Michael Sollis, brought a bazouki. Plucked instruments like this are common across the world, so the bazouki (eight strings, but with the strings in octave pairs) was not at all out of place. Neither were the Russian or Brazilian folk songs. I was a bit surprised that the film themes worked, but perhaps I shouldn’t have been. The polkas were expected to work and they did, with their groove-resistant oompah bass on the 1-3. Not danceable as in jazz swing, but how can you not enjoy a polka? The players varied in skills – some had played just a few months; otheres for years – but they obviously enjoyed the outing and it was more inviting that I’d expected.

The Canberra Mandolin Orchestra performed at the St Alban’s Anglican Church in Lyons and was led by Michael Sollis.

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