Program Notes by Robert A. Margo
The Providence Mandolin Orchestra (PMO) is pleased to present its latest concert program, “Locally Sourced”, featuring original works and arrangements for mandolin ensemble by musicians based in New England and the surrounding region. The one exception to this on the program, “The Mandolin and the Moon,” by Australian Richard Charlton, incorporates many of Charlton’s influences from jazz to world music.
Based in western Massachusetts, Michael Nix is an avid performer on and composer for plucked strings. His “Prayer (for the Victims of Terror)” is written in honor of all those who have suffered at the hands of terrorists, and receives its first performance this evening. Boston Conservatory faculty member James Dalton’s piece is a set of variations with accompanying fugue on the spiritual “Free at Last,” whose lyrics were famously quoted by Martin Luther King in his “I Have a Dream” speech at the Lincoln Memorial. From the 1970s album of the same name, Antonio Carlos Jobim’s highly rhythmic “Stone Flower” is arranged for mandolin ensemble by PMO member Robert Margo. Recently awarded second prize in the very prestigious 2012 “Concurso Internacional de Composicion para formaciones de Plectro Jose Fernadez Rosas” (International Plectrum Composition Competition ‘Jose Fernandez Rosas’ 2012) in Logrono, Spain, “Urban Sketches” is the latest work by long-time PMO member and resident composer Owen Hartford. Divided into four short movements, the melodic and harmonic structure of “Urban Sketches” is angular and spicy, with frequent metrical shifts that are reminiscent of Bartok and Stravinsky.
The origins of the Providence Mandolin Orchestra can be traced back to performances in the first decades of the twentieth century with Giuseppe Pettine and William Place Jr., both premier mandolin virtuosos in the United States during the instrument’s “Golden Age”. The modern version of the PMO dates from 1971, when it was revived by Hibbard Perry. Since then the PMO has become the leading American mandolin ensemble with regular performances throughout the eastern United States and Western Europe. The PMO is dedicated to the performance of contemporary music, including many pieces written for the ensemble. Over the past several years the PMO has embarked on an ambitious program of joint performances with leading European mandolin ensembles, including Het Consort, the Ensemble a Plectre de Toulouse, the JZO NRW, the Orchestra of the International Mandolin Academy, and the Saarländisches Zupforchester. The PMO is directed by Mark Davis, who pursues an active career as a guitarist, mandolinist, teacher and conductor.
The Providence Mandolin Orchestra
Director: Mark Davis