Author: Rebecca Hathaway

SFMO in the Feb 2018 Issue of Mandolin Journal

The San Francisco Mandolin Orchestra was recently featured in Mandolin Journal, the newsletter of the Classical Mandolin Society of America! Click here to read the article written by orchestra member Paul Hennessey [PDF, 1.2mb]. If you’re a CMSA member, you can find it in the “Orchestra News” section of the February 2018 issue.

Fall 2017 Concert Dates

The theme for this November’s SF Mandolin Orchestra concerts is “Young at Heart.”  We’ll celebrate youth, and wistfully look back on our own.

Our youth inspired program includes these wonderful works:

  • The Toy Symphony by Joseph Haydn or Leopold Mozart. This joyous 18th century classical symphony features a number of toy instruments accompanied by the orchestra, including a toy whistle, drum, and kuckuck.
  • The Concerto Grosso in G-minor, Op.6 no. 8, by Arcangelo Corelli, better known as “The Christmas Concerto.” This work was written in 1714 as part of Corelli’s Twelve Concerti Grossi. It is famous for its stunning movement titled “Fatto per la note di Natale (“Made for the Night of Christmas”).
  • Kinderszenen, Op.15 (“Scenes from Childhood”) by Robert Schumann. Written in 1838, these thirteen short pieces were inspired by Robert’s wife Clara’s comment that sometimes he “seemed like a child.” The most famous of the thirteen pieces is the “Träumerei,” whose sentimental theme has been used in a number of films, including “Song of Love.”
  • Elegia e Tarantella by Giovanni Bottesini, a 19th century Italian romantic composer, conductor, and double bass virtuoso. These two pieces, originally for double bass, have been transcribed by Achille Bocus, our conductor, who will also be featured on solo mandolin. Like Bottesini, Achille Bocus’ early career was as a double bass player.

Concerts will be held in Piedmont, San Francisco, and Palo Alto, all starting at 4:00pm.  Here are the details:

Saturday, November 4 at 4:00pm
Piedmont Center for the Arts
801 Magnolia Avenue
Map | Tickets | Facebook Event

San Francisco:
Sunday, November 5 at 4:00pm
Mission Dolores Chapel
3321 16th Street
Map | Tickets | Facebook Event

Palo Alto:
Sunday, November 12 at 4:00pm
All Saints Episcopal Church
555 Waverley Street
Map | Tickets | Facebook Event

Concerts are family-friendly.  Admission is $20 general, $15 student/senior, and free for children 12 and under.  Tickets may be purchased at the door, or at our ticketing site.

Spring 2017 Concert Dates

The San Francisco Mandolin Orchestra’s Spring 2017 season features the stunning Stabat Mater by Italian composer Giovanni Battista Pergolesi (1710-36), as well as Adagio for Strings by American composer Samuel Barber (1910-1981).

Stabat Mater is Pergolesi’s most celebrated work, and was composed in the last year of his brief life. The piece, written for soprano, alto, and orchestra, was composed as a Good Friday meditation in honor of the Virgin Mary, and was one of the most frequently printed musical works of the 18th century. Famed French philosopher Jean-Jacque Rousseau praised the work’s opening movement as “the most perfect and touching duet to come from the pen of any composer.”

Achille Bocus will conduct the orchestra, and the performance will feature two renowned Bay Area singers, soprano Susan Gundunas and alto Twila Ehmcke:


With over 50 roles to her credit, critically acclaimed soprano Susan Gundunas is an active performer in opera, musical theatre, dramatic theatre, and concert and recital repertoire.  Her international career includes role portrayals as Nedda (I pagliacci), Adina (L’elisir d’amore), Violetta (La Traviata), Cio-Cio San (Madama Butterfly), Mimì (La Bohème), Donna Anna (Don Giovanni), the title role in Lucia di Lammermoor, Carlotta (Phantom of the Opera), Mrs. Peachum (Three Penny Opera), Esther (MeshugaNutcracker), and Helen Hart (The Game Show Show).

Ms. Gundunas is well known in the Northwest, performing with companies including Nevada Opera, Opera Idaho, Rimrock Opera, Sonoma City Opera, Pacific Repertory Opera, Monterey Opera, San Francisco Bay Opera, San Francisco Mandolin Orchestra, San Jose Stage Company, The Retro Dome, Marin Theatre, Renaissance Voices, Masterworks Chorale, San Jose Chamber Orchestra, Santa Cruz Symphony, and the Las Vegas Symphony.  Her performance as Ellen in Alva Henderson’s Nosferatu can be heard on the Albany Records label, and she also served as a recording artist for The Marin Project.


Headshot-Twila Ehmcke

Twila Ehmcke moved to San Francisco in 2007 after sharing her voice for most of the prior decade with New York and East Coast audiences. Beforehand, she performed solo and ensemble concerts for German and Italian audiences as well as performing two years with “The Phantom of the Opera” (Mme. Giry) in Hamburg.  Her concert career has occupied most of her time and has carried her to many well know classical venues such as Carnegie Hall, Avery Fisher Hall, Alice Tully Hall and Brooklyn Academy of Arts.  Her opera career brought her to the stages of Wolftrap, Philadelphia Opera Company, Dallas and Ft. Worth Operas as well as the Hamburg Stella Theater, Germany, and countless regional festivals in the Tuscany and Liguria regions.  Twila participated in the inception of the now flourishing Brooklyn Artists of New York, singing the role of Mama Lucia in “Cavalieri Rusticana” in its debut season. She also performed with Vertical Opera Players as Nourice in Milhaud’s “Médée” and Frugola in Puccini’s “Il Tabarro”.  Always a strong supporter of those in need, she contributed her talents to the annual galas for Cystic Fibroses in New York City, where she sang Octavian in scenes from “Der Rosenkavalier”.  She has sung under the baton of international and American conductors, of note James Levine, Peter Oundjian, Donald Runnicles, Carlo Maria Giulini and Nicola Rescigno.

Concerts will take place in both Palo Alto and San Francisco:

San Francisco:
Saturday, April 8 at 7pm
Old First Presbyterian Church
1751 Sacramento Street
Map | Tickets | Facebook Event

Palo Alto:
Sunday, April 9 at 4pm
All Saints Episcopal Church
555 Waverley Street
Map | Tickets | Facebook Event

Tickets for both concerts are available online or at the door.

Admission: $18 General, $10 Students/Seniors. (Note: door tickets are cash only.)

Concerts are family-friendly, and admission is free for children 6 and under.