The Ger Mandolin Orchestra

The Ger Mandolin Orchestra is a memorial project of reviving the Jewish Mandolin Orchestra that was active in Gora Kalwaria (or as it’s known in Yiddish, “Ger”), Poland between 1920 to 1930. In 2010, founder Avner Yonai traveled from his home in California to Poland to learn more about his lineage and met with then 94 year old survivor Avrum Henryk Prajs. It was then that Avrum showed him a photo he had never seen that included his own grandfather, two great uncles and a cousin. It was the photo below, of the Mandolin Orchestra of Ger.


This black-and-white portrait of the Mandolin Orchestra of Ger eventually led Avner Yonai to relatives in Israel. Given that most of his mother’s family had played in the orchestra, Yonai decided to resurrect it.  The contemporary Ger Mandolin Orchestra includes some of the best mandolin players in the world including  Mike Marshall, Avi Avital, Eric Stein, Jeff Warshauer, Chris Acquavella, Sharon Gilchrist, Brian Oberlin, Dana Rath, Adam Rozkiewicz,  Radim Zenkl and Tim Connell.

Chestnut House Concerts will host Tim Connell and Jack Dwyer (Mando Planet) on Friday, March 28, 2014.  I invite you to watch the following film of the Ger Mandolin Orchestra from their performance in Toronto, Canada in November 2013.  The Orchestra is seated in a semi circle, and Tim is at the end on the far right.  The camera focused on Tim at 3:33, and from 6:02-6:10 there’s also a brief clip of him playing as part of a trio.

Avner Yonai commented about forming the Ger Mandolin Orchestra that it’s not just about the mandolins and about connecting to the past,  “It’s about family”.  In 2014 we at Chestnut House Concerts send you warm wishes with a challenge to keep music as a part of your day, and to maintain family as priority in your life.

Happy New Year.

Tim and Karen

‘Til the Wheels Come Off

wheel“Sun came up, it was blue and gold. Ever since I put your picture in a frame. I’m gonna love you ’til the wheels come off. Oh yea”. (Tom Waits / Kathleen Brennan)

For music lovers there’s nothing that compares to a live performance. Recordings become the next best thing and most of us have favorite tunes we could listen to over & again because the recording is done so well, it’s just like ‘the real thing’. One of those, for me, is Picture in a Frame by Tom Waits on his Mule Variations album.  Even more than Wait’s husky voice singing the sweet lyrics of this love song, I appreciate the way it was recorded.  There are a few seconds of squeaky piano bench noises before the keys on the upright plunk out the melody while the live microphone picks up Wait’s vocals along with all that’s happening in the room. Greg Cohen adds a simple bass line and there’s a breathy bari-sax instrumental break by Nik Phelps.

Our first house concert this new year is January 15th and there are a few seats still available if you want to join us to experience the April Verch band. May your 2013 be filled with musical experiences, live and recorded – ’til the wheels come off.