The Springfield Mandolin Orchestra (SMO)

The Springfield Mandolin Orchestra (SMO) is a non-profit musical organization established in 2013

The Springfield Mandolin Orchestra (SMO) is a non-profit musical organization established in 2013 by Adam Sweet, in an effort to revive the beauty and popularity of the traditional mandolin orchestra, which was mainstream in the United States around the turn of the 20th Century. The Orchestra will consist of volunteer musicians, and will feature composers from around New England and beyond.

To get the orchestra off to a good solid start, it needs to purchase instruments for use by the orchestra, to purchase sheet music for the orchestra library, purchase or lease recording and amplification equipment for the publishing of videos, CDs and other promotional material, pay for the design and publishing of a website, to purchase advertising and marketing for concerts and open rehearsals, and to pay the Director and Manager reasonable salaries.

Although the SMO is not currently a registered non-profit organization, we are working towards that goal so that we may accept donations from the community.

Qualifications and Role of Personally Directly Involved With The Project

Adam Sweet, Music Director
Adam Sweet has certifications in violin and performance from the New England Conservatory of Music at Rivers, and the Apple Hill Center for Chamber Music. He has a BA in Ethnomusicology from Hampshire College. He opened his studio in 1985 and has been providing music lessons, sales and service to the community since. Mr Sweet is a mandolin teacher, plays mandolin in several ensembles and leads a Group Classes. Sweet is a volunteer member of the Granby Cultural Council and volunteers in development for the Granby Preservation society. He lives in Granby with his wife Emily and sons.

Qualifications, Certificates and Associations:
Certification: Violin; New England Conservatory of Music
Certification: Ensembles; Apple Hill Center for Chamber Music
BA, Ethnomusicology, Hampshire College
Music Teacher Certification: American Federation of Music Teachers
Music Teacher Certification: American String Teacher Association
Member: American Federation of Musicians
Member: Boston Bluegrass Union

The SMO will hold open rehearsals in Granby the last Tuesday of every month, and concerts each year at the same location. The concerts will be open to the community for a reasonable fee.

The SMO currently consists of Eight Orchestra Members: four mandolinists, one mandola, one mandocello and one page-turner/assistant (Cynthia’s Mom). We are actively recruiting new members. We have received confirmation of interest from an additional mandolon (mando bass) player, and two additional mandolin players that were not able to attend the first rehearsal in February.

The members who currently do not have instruments (mando cello, mandola, mandolin) will be able to use an orchestra instrument while an active member of the orchestra. Members will benefit from playing and learning from published copies of sheet music instead of copies downloaded from the internet as part of an Orchestra Library that will be housed at the Sweet Music Studio. Members will benefit from the production of high quality video and recordings of concerts and rehearsals that they can share with family and friends and online through social media.

The SMO currently consists of two administrators: the Director and the Manager who will benefit from a small salary stipend for a specific number of hours worked during each month including rehearsals, concerts, and travel.

The SMO will need capital funding to get the project started. Maintenance funding will be needed to keep it running. See spreadsheet for needs.

Other organizations collaborating directly with this project

  1. Town of South Hadley has volunteered use of the Town Hall Auditorium for rehearsals and concerts
  2. The Providence Mandolin Orchestra has consulted with the Director and provided access to sheet music and other helpful online resources
  3. The Red Barn Music in Amherst has been helpful consulting about community engagement

Names of other organizations carrying out similar projects.

Atlanta Mandolin Orchestra
Austin Mandolin Orchestra
Baltimore Mandolin Orchestra
Bloomfield Mandolin Orchestra
Dayton Mandolin Orchestra
Kalamazoo Mandolin & Guitar Orchestra
Louisville Mandolin Orchestra
Mandolin Society of Peterborough
Milwaukee Mandolin Orchestra
Minnesota Mandolin Orchestra
New Expressions Mandolin Orchestra
New York Mandolin Orchestra
Oregon Mandolin Orchestra
Orpheus Mandolin Orchestra
Pittsburg Mandolin Orchestra
Providence Mandolin Orchestra
Seattle Mandolin Orchestra
Takoma Mandoleers

Here is a full list:


As Mandolin New England comes to life (our inaugural concert was 1/17/15 at the South Hadley Town Hall, another one on the way next week at the Arts Block in Greenfield), Sweet Music is slowly but surely becoming recognized as THE SOURCE for mandolins and mandolin-related events in western Mass.

  • People looking for The Mandolin Orchestra of South Hadley will find student-run events and concerts through the Sweet Music website, or through the Mandolin New England website.
  • If there are mandolin players in western Mass. that would like to play in a group setting, they should contact Sweet Music to find out if they are eligible by calling 413-248-7668 or using the contact form on the website.
  • If mandolin players would like to find out if they are eligible to join Mandolin New England, they should also contact Sweet Music, or Josh Bell at
  • For now, if you are not a student at Sweet Music, but you have performed in Mandolin Orchestra concerts in the past, please contact Sweet Music as soon as possible to find out if you are eligible for Mandolin New England and other events.

Mandolin New England in Franklin County Debut at Arts Block May 16

A regional orchestra playing instruments from the mandolin family will perform in Greenfield’s Arts Block on Saturday, May 16 for its first appearance in the county.

Mandolin New England was formed by students from Sweet Music in Granby to revive the mandolin orchestra in the Valley, a musical tradition which flourished here early in the 20th Century. Its membership also includes musicians from Rhode Island, Connecticut, and New York.

The group will premiere the first orchestral performance of Barton Cove, by Greenfield composer Michael Nix, who will accompany the group on guitar and solo on a classical banjo-like instrument he designed, the 7-string Banjar.

Although originally composed in 2005, Nix has reset his composition to take advantage of the multiple string voices of the orchestra that includes mandolins, mandolas, mandocellos and a rare mandobass from the 1920s. Barton Cove is an environmental anthem to the majesty of New England’s greatest river. A poem written to accompany the work is a lament for the industrialization of the Connecticut River at Turners Falls, its first waterfall in Massachusetts, and an area that was once an ancient native fishing center and the site in 1676 of the massacre of 300 inhabitants of an Indian encampment by mounted militia from the town of Hadley.

Michael Nix performs on lute, guitar, banjo, Banjar, and mandolin throughout the United States and Asia and teams with Chris Devine as the Devine-Nix Duo.  His recordings have been featured in documentaries and on NPR’s Weekend Edition and American Experience (PBS).

In addition to the Nix composition, selections will include works by J. S. Bach and the blind Irish composer Turlough O’Carolan. Josh Bell, founder of L’Esperance Mandolin Ensemble of Providence will conduct the group.

Mandolin New England depends upon local music teachers to supply new orchestra members, and students from two local studios are represented in the group. Since 1986, Sweet Music has enabled western Mass. students of all ages to learn to play traditional music on the fiddle, mandolin, guitar and banjo

Tickets for the concert are available online at for $7 and $10 at the door on May 16th.  The doors open at 7:30 and the concert starts at 8.