History of the Sydney Mandolin Orchestra
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