Hertfordshire has a number of established orchestras and joining that list is a new one especially for mandolins.

The Phoenix Mandolins formed in February 2020 with a dozen keen plucked string players – guitars, a double bass, and a good number of mandolins and their larger version, the mandola.

They play a mixture of light music and baroque with their conductor Ben Westlake.

If you happen to be in Clarence Park, St Albans, around 3pm on Sunday, August 15 you will find them playing a free preview of their first show in the bandstand.

Then, on Sunday, October 3, Phoenix will be holding their much-delayed inaugural concert.

This will be at 3pm at St Stephen's Church, Watling Street, and will include concertos by Vivaldi and Barbella with soloist Nigel Woodhouse.

Tickets are £12 on the door or £10 pre-booked. Email phoenixmandos@gmail.com for more details.

Herts Advertiser: The Phoenix MandolinsThe Phoenix Mandolins (Image: Phoenix Mandolins)

The Phoenix Mandolins welcome new players of guitar and mandolin of any skill level who are able to read music and are keen to learn more.

They rehearse on Sunday afternoons in St Albans. For more information about the group, about finding an instrument or a teacher, email as above.

The mandolin is a versatile instrument, often found in folk and country music bands. REM song Losing My Religion is even built on a mandolin riff by guitarist Peter Buck.

The gondoliers of Venice play them as they work their boats and there are mandolin orchestras in many parts of Europe, as well as North America, Australia and Japan.

The instruments have been played for centuries and became especially popular in the late 19th century when to encourage interest in the latest operas composers would publish versions of their music for the mandolin.

To recreate the long fluid lines of arias, mandolin players developed the tremolo, as in ‘O Sole Mio’ and other well known Italian songs.

The members of Phoenix are keen to keep this special instrument alive in the UK where once it was better known and appreciated.

For the latest information go to https://phoenixmandolins.org.uk/