The SFMO is an orchestra of 15-25 players of instruments in the mandolin family: mandolin, mandola, octave mandolin, and mandocello, in addition to guitar and double bass. At times, we’ve also included instruments such as the harp, viola da gamba, or archlute. Our repertoire focuses on a new theme each season, with seasons lasting four to six months. We love to explore music from different countries and different time periods. We’re always looking for new players, whether you’ve been playing for years or would like to learn. You can learn more about playing with our group here. See pictures of past performances and rehearsals on our gallery page.
Our philosophy is to put our hearts and souls into the expression of our music, dedicating effort into the finer details that give the music its particular character. As we were originally a teaching orchestra, the philosophy of continual learning and improving still pervades the orchestra. Most of our players have studied classical music and classical mandolin technique for several years before joining the orchestra. We are proud to include some very fine players but know that the greatest strength is in our ability to produce one coherent statement of our music which is much greater than the sum of us all individually.
The orchestra has played at some of the best-known local concert venues, including the Capp Street Community Music Center, the original Mission Dolores, Old First Church in San Francisco, and the California Academy of Sciences. We have also presented workshops and concerts at the San Francisco Folk Festival and the San Francisco Mandolin Festival. Past soloists include alto Twila Ehmcke, soprano Susan Gundunas, lutenist Alex Jenne, mandolin virtuoso Carlo Aonzo, and renowned mandolinist David Grisman. We’re always interested in exploring new opportunities for musical collaboration; if you would like to perform with us or compose for us, please contact the musical directors.