Mandolin orchestra Phoenix Mandolins are performing their third end-of-year concert in St Albans this month.

The plucked instruments ensemble was formed in February 2020, and aims to keep music written for mandolin orchestras alive in Hertfordshire.

Phoenix Mandolins are the result of the merging of the last two remaining mandolin groups north of London - Hatfield Banjo Mandolin Guitar Group, which dates back to the 1970s, and Watford Plectra Orchestra, which dates back to the 1930s.

The group is led by conductor Vlad Bourceanu, an honours graduate from the Royal Academy of Music.

Vlad has also performed as a violinist in orchestras under the batons of conductors such as Bernard Haitink KBE, Sir Colin Davis and Vladimir Ashkenazy, who continue to inspire his work.

The end-of-year concert will take place at St Stephen's Church Hall in Watling Street from 7.30pm to 9.30pm on Sunday, November 19.

Tickets are £12 on the door, or £10 pre-booked. To book tickets email

The concert will feature Helen Skelton on the recorder and flute - sounds which blend well with plucked instruments such as the mandolin and guitar.

Helen has studied with recorder professional Andrew Collis and flute teacher Ya-Zheng (Judy) Cheng.

Along with Phoenix Mandolins guitarist Nima Ranjbar, Helen will perform as a soloist in Johann Albrechtsberger's Concertino in D.

Haydn regarded Albrechtsberger as "the best teacher of composition among all present-day Viennese masters", and sent Beethoven to him for instruction from 1794 to 1795.

All proceeds from the concert will go towards Refugee Tales, a charity which works towards a future without immigrant detention.


The charity is close to the heart of the players and conductors of Phoenix Mandolins, some of whom have experienced refugee status first-hand.

Phoenix Mandolins rehearse on Tuesday evenings in St Albans, and are keen to welcome new members and usher in the next generation of players.

Guitar and mandolin players of any skill level are welcome, providing they are able to read music and keen to learn - with musicians performing a wide repertoire of musical styles from tango to waltzes, baroque and folk.