Oregon Mandolin Orchestra

Oregon Mandolin Orchestra (OMO) is an all-volunteer community orchestra based in Portland, Oregon. Founded in 2010, the OMO consists of about 30 members and has been led by music director Christian McKee since April 2017.

Oregon Mandolin Orchestra
Mandolin orchestra
Founded2010 (2010)
LocationPortland, Oregon, United States
Music directorChristian McKee


The orchestra was started in January 2010 by Brian and Elizabeth Oberlin.[1] It was the first such orchestra in Oregon since the Portland Mandophonic Orchestra stopped performing in 2001.[2] OMO was founded during a revival of mandolin orchestras, which had once been widespread across the United States.[3][4]

Brian Oberlin is a mandolinist and music teacher who serves as the musical director, while his then wife Elizabeth was the executive director.[1][5] Brian also started the River of the West Mandolin Camp.[6] Elizabeth, an attorney by profession, organized the orchestra while Brian recruited members.[1] The orchestra performed its first concert on April 9, 2010, at the Glenn & Viola Walters Cultural Arts Center in downtown Hillsboro.[7] One of the first members of the new group was Bill Jordens, who had been a member of the Milwaukee Mandolin Orchestra in Wisconsin.[1]

OMO's April 2011 concert featured works by Antonio Vivaldi and was held at The Old Church in Portland.[1] The group's May 2011 concert included a version of Led Zeppelin's "Kashmir", as well a pieces from Johann Sebastian Bach and Felix Mendelssohn, among others.[8] At the time of the concert, the orchestra had grown to 24 members.[8]

The group received a grant from the Hillsboro Arts & Culture Council in 2011[9] and again in 2013.[10] The funds come from the City of Hillsboro's Parks and Recreation Department.[9] By the September 2011 concert, the group had grown to about 30 members, with the concert again held at the Walters Cultural Arts Center.[11] The group also gained sponsorships at that time from The Hillsboro Argus, KUIK, and Tuality Healthcare, among others.[11] Oregon Mandolin Orchestra’s 2011 holiday concert in December featured a Brazilian Choro duo as well as a selected portion of the Nutcracker Suite.[12] At the time, it was the only mandolin orchestra in Oregon.[12] OMO's Fall 2013 concert in Hillsboro featured Evan Marshall,[13] while the December 2013 concert featured holiday music.[14]


The Oregon Mandolin Orchestra is modeled after similar orchestras that were popular in the United States during the late 19th century.[12] The orchestra features mandolins, mandolas, mandocellos, and string basses.[1] The approximately 30-piece group presents about four concerts each year across the Portland area.[2]


  1. Bella, Rick (April 1, 2011). "Mandophiles play on in Hillsboro: The Oregon Mandolin Orchestra keeps a lost art alive and tackles a wide variety of music". The Oregonian.
  2. Smith, Taylor (October 15, 2013). "Brian Oberlin conducting the Hillsboro-based Oregon Mandolin Orchestra. The orchestra will be performing their fall concert on Friday, Oct. 25". The Oregonian.
  3. Bernstein, Matthew (December 17, 2014). "Music on the Street talks with Brian Oberlin of the Oregon Mandolin Orchestra". Oregon Music News. Retrieved 11 March 2015.
  4. Miller, Jennifer (May 29, 2014). "With a Little Bit of Pluck, a Mandolin Orchestra Revives". The New York Times. Retrieved 11 March 2015.
  5. Sproles, Michael (December 14, 2016). "It's all about the MANDOLIN". Hillsboro Tribune. Retrieved 20 December 2016.
  6. "Mandolin virtuosos to perform". Forks Forum. November 13, 2014. Retrieved 1 December 2014.
  7. "Mandolin Orchestra sets Hillsboro concert". The Hillsboro Argus. March 26, 2010.
  8. "Oregon Mandolin Orchestra sets concert". The Hillsboro Argus. May 6, 2011.
  9. "Hillsboro Arts & Culture Council Announces 2011-12 Community Arts & Culture Grant Recipients". OregonLive. June 16, 2011.
  10. "2013-14 Community Arts & Culture Grants Awarded in Hillsboro". OregonLive. May 28, 2013.
  11. "Mandolin Orchestra sets Sept. 16 Hillsboro show". The Hillsboro Argus. September 9, 2011.
  12. "Oregon Mandolin Orchestra tunes up for Dec. 16 concert". The Hillsboro Argus. December 9, 2011.
  13. "Orchestra performs". Hillsboro Tribune. October 25, 2013.
  14. Haugen, Stephanie (December 13, 2013). "Art Briefs". Hillsboro Tribune.
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