Brighton Youth Mandolin Ensemble

In May 2012, the newly-formed Brighton Youth Mandolin Ensemble made their debut performance with us at our annual Brighton Festival Fringe concert.

The ensemble, consisting of nine children on mandolins – most of which had been newly-purchased with the help of a grant by Brighton & Hove City Council – played a 10-minute set of tunes on their own or along with the orchestra.

They started with Alison Stephen's Little Waltz, which is a lovely, short and accessible piece for children (and adults also!) that – as usual with Alison's compositions – brings out the best of the mandolin, utilising as it does ringing open G and D strings with a simple melody on the A string.

After this, they were then joined mostly in accompaniment by the orchestra with a simplified arrangement by Chris Slack of Vivaldi's Spring, and finished with another excellent Chris Slack arrangement of My Favourite Things.

The children were very well-received by the audience – and their parents and some teachers! – and their positive attitude and apparent lack of fear were impressive. It was a great experience for them not only to play together, and along with the orchestra, but to perform in front of an audience that largely consisted of complete strangers, as part of a major arts festival.

The plan is for the ensemble to meet every couple of months with orchestra members during term time, while continuing to work on pieces at their normal group or individual lessons, and perform in concerts along with the orchestra as and when they can. There are now currently 11 children on mandolins in the group, and we hope to add guitars soon too.

The composer and mandolin orchestra leader Robert Schulz in Australia has very kindly sent us a number of pieces he has written for youth ensemble. These range in difficulty and are very pleasing for the children to play, helping to improve their sense of timing, harmony and playing together.

For further information on the youth ensemble, please contact us via the Contacts page.