The Providence Mandolin Orchestra was founded by the late Hibbard Perry in 1971, fulfilling a lifelong dream to revive his own Providence Plectral Orchestra from the 1930s. This group carries on an American musical tradition which goes back to the 1880s when a group of Spanish bandurria players toured the United States and began a craze for mandolin and guitar music that rivaled the popularity of rock and roll today.
Over the past thirty-odd years, the Providence Mandolin Orchestra has become one of the leading American mandolin ensembles, with appearances throughout the Eastern United States and Canada. In 1989, the PMO became the first American mandolin orchestra to perform at the Festival Internacional de Musica Plectro in Logrono, Spain. In 1999, the PMO performed at festivals and concerts in Germany, Luxembourg and France.
With well over two hundred pieces in its repertoire, the Orchestra features a wide range of musical styles from Renaissance dances to Baroque concertos, from turn-of-the century nostalgia to avant-garde expressions. Within its wide range of musical tastes, the Orchestra is probably best known for its lively interpretations of traditional music from sources as diverse as Appalachian folk ballads and Brazilian chorinho. In addition, the PMO's unique tonality has inspired exciting new works by composers Will Ayton, Stephen Funk Pearson, Michael Nix, Robert Martel, Owen Hartford, and others.
The Providence Mandolin Orchestra is under the direction of Mark Davis. Mr. Davis has been associated with the orchestra since its inception, assuming directorship in 1989. Mark Davis pursues an active career as a solo performer, educator and conductor. He also has published numerous compositions and arrangements with Zimmerman Verlag in Frankfort and Plucked String Editions in Washington, D.C. and a series of articles on guitar technique.
He is in charge of instrumental music at the Wheeler School in Providence, RI, where he directs a multi-level classical guitar program.