Around the end of the 19th century, dozens of mandolin orchestras sprang up in Massachusetts and New England. Now, one local ensemble revives that tradition. The Porter-Phelps-Huntington Museum is excited to welcome the Sweet Mandolin Ensemble for a special afternoon performance on Sunday, July 28th from 2:30 p.m. to 4 p.m in the Corn Barn. Admission to the concert is free, however donations are greatly appreciated.
The Sweet Mandolin Ensemble was formed in 2014 by Adam Sweet, who has taught fiddle, mandolin, guitar, and banjo locally since 1986. The group is based in Granby, Massachusetts and recently made Sweet Mandolin Ensemble its official name. Formerly known as the South Hadley Mandolin Orchestra and a part of Mandolin New England, Sweet and his co-performers have given concerts at The Porter-Phelps-Huntington Museum since 2015. The ensemble performs Renaissance, Baroque, and Classical works and includes a wide variety of its namesake instrument, such as the mandola and mandobass and Mando Mo Strings instruments like “The Whale,” a hand-carved F5-style mandocello. On July 28th, the ensemble will perform the World's Premier of the Bach Brandenburg Concerto No. 6 for two Mandolas, featuring the Higginsonic 8 and 10 string instruments, and Mozart's Dissonance Quartet featuring "The Whale" mandocello. Performed by musicians world-wide since 1721, the last of the six Brandenburg Concertos originally featured “two viole da braccio, two viole da gamba, cello, violone, and harpsichord.” It comes to life anew with this first-ever mandola arrangement.
The Museum itself has a link to these fretted instruments; the Long Room in the home displays an ornate mandola supposedly given to Elizabeth Whiting Phelps by her brother around the year 1790. To see this and other collections currently on display, guests may tour the Porter-Phelps-Huntington House Museum on the day of the concert. Tours will be held at 1:00 p.m. and immediately following the performance. Admission for a guided tour is $5.
Sweet’s Irish music ensemble Celtic Calamity will also be performing at the Museum’s final “A Perfect Spot of Tea” event on August 24th.
The house, which remains largely unchanged since the family’s occupancy, tells the story of six generations of prominent Hadley residents. Porter, Phelps, and Huntington family members were prosperous traders turned farmers who fought in both the Seven Years’ War and the Revolutionary War, rose to prominence in local government, and embodied a consistently progressive social consciousness. Tours highlight both local and regional narratives, ranging in focus from architecture, material culture, and labor, to early-American theology, economics, and social movements.
The Porter-Phelps-Huntington Museum is located at 130 River Drive (Route 47) in Hadley, two miles north of the junction of Routes 9 and 47. The Museum is open for guided tours Saturday through Wednesday from 1:00 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. and by appointment. For further information about tours or other programs, please call the Museum at (413) 584-4699.