November 11, 2013
Vol. 29 , No. 05
View Entire Issue (Vol. 29 , No. 05)
Ger Mandolin Orchestra
AVNER YONAI, founder
MIKE MARSHALL, musical director
TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 12, 2013
Mandolin orchestras were once the most popular form of community music making in Jewish life. The mandolin — a strummed string instrument similar to a four stringed guitar — was once common across Jewish communities in Europe and immigrant communities in the United States. World War II destroyed most of the European communities where mandolin orchestras were popular. The Ger Mandolin Orchestra is a memorial project of reviving the Jewish Mandolin Orchestra that was active in Gora Kalwaria, Poland between 1920 to 1930. Most of its members died in the Holocaust.
When Avner Yonai searched to discover his family roots in Poland, he came across a picture of his family playing in a pre-WWII Jewish mandolin orchestra. The photograph inspired Yonai to create a contemporary version of this musical group as a memorial to his own family and the orchestra members who perished in the Holocaust. Under the direction of Grammy award winner Mike Marshall, the Ger Mandolin Orchestra was formed. This renowned group of international musicians features authentic instruments and scores, and authentically re-creates this once quintessential Jewish musical form.
This concert is the culmination of the Athenaeum’s semester long series on Jewish renewal in Poland, supported with funding from several individuals and groups, including Hillel of The Claremont Colleges, and is a rare and wonderful musical experience not to be missed.