For more than six decades, the Munier Mandolin & Guitar Orchestra has promoted classical mandolin music throughout Greater Philadelphia. Established in 1957, when two smaller ensembles united under the baton of Dr. Joseph Tiracchia, the orchestra has a direct link with the Golden Age of Italian classical mandolin. As a young child in Italy, Tiracchia studied mandolin with the ensemble’s namesake, Carlo Munier, one of the foremost mandolin virtuosos and composers of the day (along with Raffaele Calace).
From 1957-1990, the Munier Orchestra flourished under the leadership of Tiracchia. The orchestra produced three LP recordings featuring a diverse musical selection, ranging from the virtuosic compositions of Munier and Calace to traditional Italian favorites. As one of the foremost regional ambassadors of the Italian-American cultural tradition, the orchestra maintained a high profile, particularly in South Philadelphia. In 1976, Munier played a role in the nation's Bicentennial Celebration, performing in concert with the Philadelphia Orchestra to celebrate the city's musical heritage.
Following Dr. Tiracchia’s passing, in 1990, Chris Ianni - a mandola virtuoso and charter member of Munier - assumed the baton. Following Ianni’s death in 2007, guitarist Robert Henry became musical director and served in that post until 2011. Mandolinist and guitarist Mark Linkins is Munier’s current musical director.
While the orchestra’s identity continues to reflect its ethnic Italian origins, the ensemble’s repertoire has expanded to include a wide range of musical genres: from traditional Celtic to Brazilian choro, from Bluegrass to Broadway, from Argentinian tango to American jazz.
Under Mark Linkins’ leadership, Munier has participated in a wide range of collaborations with Philadelphia-based ensembles and solo artists. On several occasions, the orchestra has performed Vivaldi’s masterwork “The Gloria” with regional choruses. Mandolin/domra virtuosi Ekaterina Skliar and Alexey Alexandrov - Siberian ex-pats currently based in Philadelphia - appear as frequent guest artists with Munier.
The Munier Mandolin Orchestra also serves as the host orchestra for the East Coast Mandolin Orchestra, an large (75-member) ensemble of professional and highly skilled amateur musicians that gathers annually in Philadelphia to present a concert based around a particular musical theme (Italian film scores, holiday music, music from Woodstock, etc.). For more information, click the East Coast Mandolin Orchestra tab/heading.
The orchestra has twice hosted the annual convention of the Classical Mandolin Society of America (2004 and 2016).
The Munier Orchestra is proud to count one charter member - Elaine Peden - among its current membership.