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Magical Mandolin Music
Published on Monday, 12 April 2010

Previewing music’s an activity fraught with peril: if you’re in the market for this type of show, you probably know more than we do about what you’re looking for.  But here’s one option you just may not have thought of... an orchestra, a whole orchestra, made almost entirely of mandolins.


We caught up with the wonderfully-named Fretful Federation at Fringe 2008, coming away with an armoury of mandolin fun facts (did you know there’s a deeper-voiced version called a mandola?) and a new-found appreciation for this unusual instrument.  Their repertoire’s a joyful mix, combining re-cast classical favourites with specially-composed new works, and all performed under the expert tutelage of virtuoso conductor Ian Harris.

We enjoyed the sheer novelty of it all, but we admired the skill as well – and it’s a pleasure to see a community orchestra take its place on the Festival stage.  Your modest £9 admission fee supports an active educational programme, giving both young people and adults with no knowledge of the instrument the chance to pluck it and see.

The venue, St George’s Church, is lovely too, with elegant details and a few treasures to admire during the interval.  It’s a good size, but the Federation say this event enjoyed a surge in popularity last year – so do book ahead this time.

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These are archived reviews of shows from Brighton 2010.  We keep our archives online as a courtesy to performers, and for readers who'd like to research previous years' reviews.