|Christmas Concert At Mifflin Avenue United Methodist Church
Upcoming Concerts in 2014
Saturday, May 3, 2014, TBA
125 N. Craig St., Pittsburgh, PA 15213
The Pittsburgh Mandolin Society had a very busy holiday
The Pittsburgh Mandolin
Orchestra was invited to join Mark Milovats
for his holiday show at the Byham
This annual event
is a fundraiser for Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh, and the orchestra was
glad to add their talents to the show, titled “Christmas in Hawaii”.
The holiday season also brought the orchestra
back to some of our favorite venues, including Mars Presbyterian Church
Mifflin Avenue United Methodist Church
, and our rehearsal home, St. Johns
Lutheran Church of Highland
orchestra played holiday favorites from around the world, including “Feliz
Navidad”, “Czarna Madonna”, and “Maoz Tsur”.
Gary sang Elvis’s “Blue Christmas”, and then led the audience in singing
some traditional favorites. The Avjar
Tamburitza Orkestar, consisting of Ron, Lois, Abby, Carl, Jason, Dick and
Charley, traded their mandolins in to perform a traditional tamburitza number
for the audiences. And the PMO Bluegrass
Company, consisting of Valerie, Jason, Charley, Mark, and guest banjo
player Jason Buzan, wowed the audience with their rendition of the Bill Monroe
classic, “Christmastimes A’Comin”.
The Society’s small ensembles were very busy too. Riversong String Ensemble, consisting of Ron,
Jan, Carol, Dave, Mark and Gary, made return appearances at some private
holiday parties this year. They
performed traditional holiday tunes, and beautiful adaptation of Dickens’ “A
Christmas Carol”. Gary wowed the
audiences with his rendition of “Ave Maria”.
Mostly Mandolins, consisting of Joan, Joyce, Abby and Dave, made an
appearance at Phipps Conservatory.
Decorated for the holidays, the Conservatory drew thousands of visitors
who could hear their beautiful music as they wandered through the exhibits.
Mifflin Avenue United Methodist Church
PMO Bluegrass Company
The Pittsburgh Mandolin Society did some unusual events
during the summer and fall of 2013. The
Mandolin Orchestra was invited to play at the International Village in
McKeesport for the first time. This
multi-ethnic festival has been drawing crowds of over 20,000 people for over 50
years, and the mandolin orchestra was very well received. Later in August, we were invited to play at
the Cumberland Woods Village. The
audience members loved the sound of the orchestra, and were thrilled by the
sultry vocals of guest artist Alexandra Korshin on “Wayfaring Stranger”. The orchestra
members were happy to spot one of our original members, Mark Evans, in the
Over the summer, the members of the Riversong String Ensemble
found themselves needing to revisit the “animal” songs in their
repertoire. Surrounded by some furry
friends at Mifflin Avenue UMC’s first ever “Blessing of the Animals”, they
played Henry Mancini’s classics, “Pink Panther” and “Baby Elephant Walk”. Staying in the “animal” theme, they also
played a fund-raiser for Living in Liberty, a new shelter for abused women that
allows them to bring their pets with them.
The Pittsburgh Mandolin Society barely had time to put their
holiday repertoire to rest for next year, when we started rehearsing for a very
busy spring concert schedule.
The Mars Presbyterian Church so enjoyed the appearance by
the Riversong String Ensemble in December that they invited the full orchestra
back to perform on March 10th. The
audience responded enthusiastically to Charley’s mesmerizing mandolin technique
on the traditional “Karapet”, and many compliments were received after the show.
On April 14, the orchestra traveled to Oil City
to participate in the “Arts in the Transit” Series. Ron briefly traded his mandolin for the
custom-made oud that he picked up on his recent trip to Morocco, and played a
traditional Middle Eastern tune for the audience. The Mandolinisti Italiani Quartet played
traditional Italian songs on the mandolin, and Gary demonstrated his versatility
by singing “O Sole Mio”, “Danny Boy”, and Pittsburgh native Stephen Foster’s
“Hard Times Come Again No More”.
The orchestra’s traditional Mother’s Day concert was held at
St. John’s Church of Highland on May 11th. Father and daughter duo Hannah and Suguru
made their first featured appearance together as soloists, playing Vivaldi’s
Mandolin Concerto while the orchestra backed them. The Gypsy Strings also played a portion of
the concert, with their violinist George Batyi joining the orchestra as the
soloist for “Csardas”.
The following weekend, the Riversong String Ensemble was
invited to play at the National Road Festival.
Performing in a historic church in Brownsville, the audience was blown
away by a very pregnant and beautiful Emily singing the traditional ballad “The
Wild Goose”, and Gary singing the poignant “Misty”. Then the instrumentalists promptly changed
the mood by switching their mandolins to banjos, and playing the raucous
On June 15, the Riversong String Ensemble had a return
engagement at the Economy Boro Community Days.
Being a local resident, Philip sat in with the band and demonstrated his
octave mandolin for his neighbors on some traditional numbers like “The
Pennsylvania Polka”, “The Yellow Rose of Texas”, and “The Year of Jubilo”.
This year marked some big changes to our traditional holiday
concerts. Several members temporarily traded
their mandolins for tamburitza instruments, and performed traditional European
holiday carols on them. Cantor Ben sang
Maoz Tsur to honor the Chanukah season, and the PMO Chorus led the audiences in
singing traditional carols. Audiences
were also treated to the sound of the rarely-heard octave mandolin, when Philip
sat in with the Riversong String Ensemble to play Archangelo Corelli’s
“Christmas Concerto”. Anxious to show
off all of these new and exciting works, the orchestra made three return
appearances to some of our favorite venues, making for a very busy and fun
holiday season in 2012.
On December 2nd, we
performed for our good friends at the First Christian Church in Weirton, and
then joined them for homemade cookies and punch after the concert. This was an especially busy day for the
members of the Riversong String Ensemble, who had also made a trip earlier that
morning to the historic Mars Presbyterian Church. They performed a beautiful adaptation of
Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol” for the parishioners there.
On December 9th, we performed at our rehearsal
home, the beautiful St. John’s Lutheran Church of Highland. This concert happened to coincide with St.
John’s astonishing living recreation of the Village of Bethlehem, giving much
added meaning to the day.
On December 16, we performed at Mifflin Avenue United
Methodist Church. This was the first
time that many of our members met their new Pastor, Kelly Smith, and the first
time that she had heard a mandolin orchestra!
On December 23, the seven members of the Riversong String
Ensemble braved the inclement weather to play outdoors on a (thankfully) heated
stage at the newly constructed European Village in Market Square. The holiday shoppers were even braver –
standing out in the cold to listen with rapt attention to the classic story of
Ebenezer Scrooge, and enthusiastically singing carols with Emily and Gary as
the instrumentalists tried to keep their very cold fingers moving.
decade since its unique revival, Pittsburgh Mandolin Orchestra hosted an
anniversary concert with a new album release event on Saturday, September 22,
2012, at Synod Hall in Oakland. Our latest album, “From Faraway Shores” is a
symbol of the cooperative and successful work of the entire orchestra—in a
language that knows no boundaries and yet is understood by all cultures. The
album was available to the public for the first time at the concert. The
concert paid homage to the very first Pittsburgh Mandolin Orchestra concert;
and some of the original members were there to performed a few tunes with
us—including the founder of the orchestra Alan Epstein. The guest artists who performed
at the first concert—Allegheny Drifters and The Great American Gypsies (Charley
Rappaport and Joe Kovach)— helped us celebrate a decade together by performing
guest sets at this concert as well.
Pittsburgh Mandolin OrchestraAllegheny Drifters
The Great American Gypsies
We opened our 10th
concert season with the Pittsburgh Mandolin Orchestra headlining a Mother’s Day
Concert on Saturday, May 12, 2012, at St. John’s Lutheran Church of Highland,
in McCandless, PA, with Charley Rappaport conducting. The program featured folk, classical, and
world music, compositions by modern composers written specifically for the
mandolin family of instruments, as well as spirited Eastern European Klezmer
dance tunes. “Bolero”, by Raffaele
Calace, a mandolin solo with orchestra accompaniment, was premiered, with 17
year old Gordon Neidinger as soloist.
Gordon also composed the cadenza which was also performed for the first
featured the Jerry Grcevich Tamburitza Orchestra. Mr. Grcevich is one of the
foremost tamburitza musicians in the world, performing with tamburitza groups
throughout the United States and Europe. In 2005, he was the first Western
Pennsylvania artist to receive the National Endowment for the Arts National
Heritage Fellowship, the nation's highest award for traditional arts. The
tamburitza is a traditional stringed instrument originating in the country that
used to be named Yugoslavia and was popularized in the United States by the
Duquesne University Tamburitzans.
This concert also
featured Riversong String Ensemble, a small ensemble that consists of our
This year, we had five Christmas concerts in the greater Pittsburgh region and Weirton, WV.
Our first concert was at First Christian Church in Weirton, WV, on December 4. This was our 5th Christmas concert at this church, and we felt all welcomed by the audience. After the concert, the PMO joined the audience for a reception. It was great to get to talk to some of the audiences.
Our next concert was on December 5 at the PPG Wintergarden. The place was filled with light and people looking at the displays and enjoying the music. The venue provides a good opportunity for the PMO to introduce its music to people who have not heard us before.
We then had a private performance at Concordia Lutheran Ministries. This was our third performance at this retirement home, and we had a large enthusiastic audience again. We feel honored to be asked to return to Concordia.
We then performed at St. John’s Lutheran Church on December 11. We were all excited to play our holiday concert in our rehearsal home.
Our last Christmas concert was at our former rehearsal location, Mifflin Avenue United Methodist Church. We were happy to be back with old friends in this beautiful church
In addition to the PMO, which performed many familiar Christmas carols and other Holiday tunes, this year’s Christmas Concerts featured three small ensembles, The Gordon Neidinger Trio with EmilyMohr performed a bluegrass holiday standard “Christmas Time’s A-Comin” by Benjamin "Tex" Logan. The Riversong String Ensemble performed "Bring a Torch, Jeannette, Isabella", "Little Drummer Boy/Peace on Earth", and "Soul Cake." And, the Ishizakis played an English carol “What Child is This?” by William Chatterton Dix.
In addition, a highlight of this year’s concert was the PGHMO Singers, a group of orchestra members and a few of their family members, who sang Christmas carols with the orchestra.
St. John’s Lutheran Church
St. John’s Lutheran Church (PGHMO Singers)
First Christian Church in Weirton, WV
November 12, 2011 (Saturday)
The PMO played a concert at Westminster Presbyterian Church in the South Hillls as part of their Westminster Music & Arts series. In this concert, with the request of the organizer, we performed music from different cultural traditions, including Germany, Ireland, Wales, Scotland, England, Czech, Poland, Russia, Italy, Israel, Eastern Europe.
In this performance, we had a great opportunity to perform with special guest artists, Zeke Hutchison (Mandolin) and Dean Shumaker (Guitar). They played “Mood Indigo” and “Take the A Train” by Duke Ellington. For their last piece, our member Gordon joined them and performed a medley of three bluegrass tunes—“Apple Blossom,” “Forked Deer,” and “Big Mon.”
This concert also features two small ensembles that consist of our orchestra members. The Riversong String Ensemble (Carol, Cheryl, David C., John, Judy, Mark and Ted) played three traditional pieces: “Scotland the Brave,” After the Battle of Aughrim,” “Shores of Ireland.” David T. and Jason—Mandolin-Mandola Duo—played “Lord Inchiquin” by Turlough O’Carolan.
Charley and Gordon also played “Shall I Go Down to the Stream” on Domras with the orchestra.
The entire concert was a great success. We are really grateful for the opportunity to play this concert for the Westminster Music & Arts series.
October 23, 2011 (Sunday)
The PMO played a concert at Wallace Memorial Church in Greentree as part of their Wallace Presents Concert Series. Even though the Steelers where playing at the same time, over 100 people came to attended the concert instead of watching the game.
It was a real pleasure sharing the concert with the Hillsdale Brass. The group did a selection of about six tunes, playing a sampling of music from around the world. At the end of the concert Hillsdale Brass joined the PMO for “Under the Double Eagle.”
This concert features three small ensembles that consist of our orchestra members. Jason and David T. played “Lord Inchiquin” by Turlough O’Carolan. The Riversong String Ensemble performed three pieces. Carol, Cheryl, David C., John, Judy, Mark and Ted. played “Give Me Your Hand” by Rory Dall O’Cathain. “Moondance” by Van Morrison, and “Somewhere Over the Raimbow” by Harold Arlen. Finally, the Gordon Neidinger Trio performed “Csárdás” by Vittorio Monti.
Charley and Gordon also played “Shall I Go Down to the Stream” on Domras with the orchestra. The PMO is really lucky to have such wonderful musicians.
The entire concert was a great success. We are really grateful for the opportunity to play this concert for the Wallace Presents Concert Series.
Pittsburgh Mandolin Orchestra performed at the 25th CMSA Convention in Baltimore on Friday night, October 14th. Alan Epstein, a PMO founder, played with the orchestra during this performance. His wife Bonnie was in the audience. It was a great pleasure for the newer orchestra members to meet him. Alan had a good time playing with the orchestra and felt the orchestra’s performances have improved with time.
There was a good showing of 22 PMO members who made the trip to Baltimore and the show was very well received. Jim Bates, the conductor of the large Convention Orchestra, said we were "Great!" and Lou Chouinard, the President of the CMSA, offered his appreciation as well. This highly knowledgeable group recognized the way in which our program builds during a performance and loved that. They also mentioned that the national character of the British Isles Suite was clear to them, and that the vocal work was outstanding. The audience loved the PMO show and responded with an enthusiastic standing ovation.
The Pittsburgh Mandolin Orchestra had four participants for the whole week of the convention. Gordon, David R., Charley, and Doug were in attendance. Gordon won second place in the 10th Annual Norman Levine CMSA Playing Contest. His performance piece was of a Charley Rappaport arrangement.
Gordon and Charley also performed at the open mic night. Charley played fretless mandolin and Gordon and Charley performed a rousing Domra number. Finally, Gordon played many of the cadenza solos in the en masse orchestra piece, "Czardas d'Amour" which was a highlight of the enmasse concert. Congratulations, Gordon on another step toward your mandolin career.
Read our member Doug’s Journal from the convention
Gordon won 2nd place in the 10th Annual Norman Levine CMSA Playing Contest
Gordon after the CMSA En Masse Concert