You would be hard pressed to find an instrument as versatile as the mandolin. A classic Italian instrument, the mandolin has been used and adopted by many different styles and the opportunity to hear this amazing instrument has arrived in Everett!
The Seattle Mandolin Orchestra will perform under Joseph Pollard White on Saturday, June 25 at 2 p.m. in the Main Library Reading Room at 2702 Hoyt Avenue in Everett. The Seattle Mandolin Orchestra will perform music from Central America, the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean. According to their website, seattlemandolin.org, the Orchestra “exists to preserve, promote, and extend the tradition of American mandolin ensembles.”
The current iteration of the Seattle Mandolin Orchestra originally began as a class at Shoreline Community College in 1983. Mandolinist Tom Moran, longtime librarian and faculty member, taught the class and once the semester was over, the students didn’t want to stop.
“We want people to know we exist; that there are many opportunities to play [the mandolin]. We also want the mandolin to be used in as many different styles as possible, and we also want to have fun,” said musician and orchestra board member Martin Stillion.
Following the first federally recognized Juneteenth, the Seattle Mandolin Orchestra will highlight pieces by two prominent African-American composers; William Grant Still, the first African-American composer to gain recognition in the classical world, and Afro-Cuban composer Jose White Lafitte, a famous violin virtuoso. Director Joseph Pollard White will direct.
“He had never led a mandolin before we tapped him,” Stillion said. “He’s such a hard worker and such a talented conductor. I took a course in college and it’s definitely a lot harder than just waving a stick. Everyone interprets your every move.”
Since taking over as director, White has enjoyed the band’s openness to expanding their repertoire, trying out challenging new projects like Mandolin’s Messiah.
“It is a silent instrument. It’s not about being loud,” White said. “It’s about intimacy and it’s an extremely comforting instrument. Even the mandocello fits on your lap like a big guitar.
The Seattle Mandolin Orchestra has played an immense catalog of works, ranging from the golden age of mandolins (1880-1920) to contemporary music commissioned specifically for the orchestra. From Japanese pieces to American folk to South American, you can even hear mandolins present in rock music today, such as the songs of Paul McCartney and REM.
This special performance is free and open to the public. The Everett Public Library offers a plethora of free programs to the community, including author talks, live book readings, science workshops for kids, and various book clubs! You can call them at 425-257-8000 to learn more about Seattle Mandolin Orchestra performances and other library programs available.