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History of the Sydney Mandolin Orchestra

Phil Skinner The Sydney Mandolin Orchestra was founded in 1932 by Phil Skinner MBE (1903-1991), making it the oldest mandolin orchestra in Australia. From 1932 to 1955, Phil Skinner taught music at the Beresford School of Music in Pitt Street, Sydney, and also played with the Tony Hayes Orchestra. About 1955, he relocated the orchestra to McMahons Point and it was known as 'Phil Skinner's Neapolitan Orchestra', a name which he then changed to 'Sydney Mandolin Orchestra'.
Phil Skinner conducted the orchestra until his retirement in 1985 when the orchestra was disbanded. During those 53 years, all of Sydney's best mandolin players were at one time members of the Sydney Mandolin Orchestra.

A few months after Phil Skinner's retirement, a meeting was called by John McCullum and former members of the orchestra. The orchestra was then reformed using the name North Sydney Mandolin Orchestra. Later it was the wish of Phil Skinner and the members that the name revert to 'Sydney Mandolin Orchestra'.
Since then the Sydney Mandolin Orchestra has had eminent conductors, including Charles Thackrah, Leo Zbierzchowski, Malcom Paix, Nikolai Sokolov, Bruce Menzies and Christopher Keane.

"For a group who no doubt have little time to rehearse, VERY professional."
William, November 2006

Sydney Harbour Bridge The Sydney Mandolin Orchestra was founded in 1932 - the same year the Harbour Bridge was opened!

Sydney Mandolin Orchestra in the sixties

The Sydney Mandolin Orchestra in the sixties.


Last updated 24 August 2011

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