The GER MANDOLIN ORCHESTRA is the brainchild of Israeli-American Avner Yonai, whose search for his family roots in Poland led him to a tattered photograph of his grandfather and two other relatives playing in a pre-WWII Jewish mandolin orchestra in the Polish town of Gora Kalwaria (Ger in Yiddish). The photograph inspired Yonai to create a contemporary version of this musical group, as a memorial project for his own family and the orchestra members, most of whom perished in the Holocaust. This all-star group of international musicians features authentic instrumentation and repertoire that re-creates what at one time was the most popular form of community music-making in Jewish life. Mandolin orchestras proliferated across the towns and shtetlakh (villages) of Jewish eastern-Europe, and flourished in the immigrant communities of North America, before losing popularity in the postwar years. The new Ger Mandolin Orchestra brings back to life this quintessential Jewish musical form, achieving a rare synergy between history and cutting-edge musical creation. The group’s repertoire includes a mix of Klezmer and Yiddish music with Polish, Russian, Ukrainian, Italian, Czech and classical selections.
The Ger Mandolin Orchestra is led by renowned multi-instrumentalist Mike Marshall, a multiple Grammy nominee/winner for his work over the last 35 years with such artists as Bela Fleck, David Grisman, Edgar Meyer, Chris Thile, and the Modern Mandolin Quartet. A master of many musical styles, Marshall is known best for his work as a bluegrass and “new acoustic music” innovator, as a significant figure in the revival of classical mandolin music, and as the leading American proponent of Brazilian choro music. Marshall is joined in the Ger Mandolin Orchestra by an all-star cast of ten mandolinists from Canada, USA, Europe and Israel, including Chris Acquavella, Avi Avital, Tim Connell, Brian Oberlin, Dana Rath, Adam Roskiewicz, Eric Stein, Jeff Warschauer, and Radim Zenkl.