by Diana Grant-Mackie

Forty years ago a group of musicians were gathered together by Doris Flameling for a rehearsal that initiated the Auckland Mandolinata Orchestra as it is today. Although Doris, a proficient musician and teacher herself has passed on, her son John continues to provide leadership in the orchestra with his wife LynneSue, our concertmaster. So, on 4th December we celebrated our anniversary at the Waitakere Council Rooms near Henderson where that first rehearsal was held. Players from past and present commemorated the magic and mayhem of mandolin music with their families and friends while the few short formal speeches did not divert the pondering about the past. John recalled how Doris decided that the group needed a mandolin player and gave John a mandolin and a "How to Play" book. As a guitar player, John took up the challenge. Albums of our history and a booklet prepared by LynneSue created great interest among players and friends. We ended the evening with some informal music. Our history is one that we are proud of. Internationally, we are affiliated with FAME and have travelled, studied and played in Europe. We are the only mandolin orchestra in New Zealand and our music genre stretches across time and cultures, reflected in our library of over 300 pieces measuring seven cubic meters or more with new arrangements continually being added. Luckily we have a long suffering librarian, Barbara. Time to move to the electronic age!!

Read more on the history of the orchestra.

Robin and Bryan have worked together arranging all kinds of music including Christmas carols and songs that we will play in the main railway station and collect money for the Auckland City Mission street appeal. Robin has also arranged some of her earlier compositions that the orchestra has recorded for her. An arrangement of Offenbach's Melodies has been our piece de resistance for our finales in recent concerts. We played it at our last winter series concert in mid September and at our rural concerts, "Mandolin Magic in Matamata" and "Sunday at St Andrews" in Waiuku, the latter giving us a standing ovation. The audiences connected with the orchestra by clapping in the can can and Bryan coerced us into the climax at the conclusion. We entertained at the Heritage Day at the Lakehouse Arts Centre and ended October playing in the sunshine in the gardens at the Auckland Rose Festival.

So, a standing ovation to all players of the mandolin family and their ensembles. And season's greetings to everyone.

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