Formed in May 2005 as the Noe Valley Plucked String Orchestra, the San Francisco Mandolin Orchestra was originally comprised of mandolin students of our Artistic Director, Nicola Swinburne Bocus, who also conducted the orchestra. We have since doubled in size to 20-25 players, in addition to the professional players who sometimes join us for concerts.
As the orchestra gained ground, our mandolinists were joined by other mandolin and plucked-string players with a background in classical music. Our instrumentation consists of members of the mandolin family, such as the mandolin, mandola, octave mandolin, and mandocello, in addition to guitar, double bass and harp.
In September 2008, Achille Bocus, conductor of the Orchestra a Plettro, Città di Milano, joined our orchestra (and Nicola, in matrimony). Last season Achille played mandolin in the orchestra, and this season he'll be wielding the baton.
Our concertmaster, Sarah Bell, hails from Rhode Island, where she played with the Providence Mandolin Orchestra.
The orchestra has played at some of the best-known local concert venues, including the Capp Street Community Music Center, the Randall Museum, Noe Valley Ministry and Old First Church in San Francisco. The orchestra presented a workshop as part of the San Francisco Folk Festival in June 2006 and in April 2008 played in the San Francisco Mandolin Festival. Past soloists include soprano Marta Johansen, accordionist Sheri Mignano, and lutenist Alex Jenne. Guest conductors include Olga Mandrigina and Martha Rodriguez-Salazar. 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 Nicola Bocus.