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Celebrated Opera Tenor, Joseph Spinella, Sings at Valentine's Day Concert with the Sarasota Mandolin Orchestra at the Italian American Club

The Italian American Club of Venice is pleased to present a performance of the Sarasota Mandolin Orchestra performing rare, classical and traditional pieces under the direction of Joseph Spinella, conductor and tenor.
    VENICE, FL, January 13, 2014 /24-7PressRelease/ -- An all-Italian traditional music concert featuring "Mandolins in Venice" is sponsored by the Italian American Club at its facilities in Venice, FL. Maestro Joseph Spinella will conduct the Sarasota Mandolin Orchestra for a one-night only special performance on Wednesday, February 12, 2014.

The Sarasota Mandolin Orchestra (SMO) consists of 14-members and plays music arranged for 1st and 2nd mandolin, mandola, mando-cello, guitar, bass dorma, percussion and voice. Led by Music Director, Joseph Spinella, the SMO's repertoire focuses on the best in traditional mandolin orchestra music (waltzes, tangos, marches and polkas) plus light classical, modern, Italian and Latin numbers. The SMO regularly performs their traditional repertoire at festivals, art galleries, country clubs and concert halls around Sarasota and occasionally outside the State of Florida.

Members of the SMO span various age groups, come from all walks of life and enjoy diverse occupations. Yet, they are bound together by a desire to promote the mandolin and to keep traditional music alive. The music is lyrical and entertaining; and audiences enjoy the familiar tremolo technique associated with the mandolin.

"Mandolin orchestras have been quite popular in Europe, especially Italy. So this program that we have planned for the Italian Club of Venice is full of traditional pieces written specifically for plucked-instrument orchestras," explains Joseph Spinella, the conductor since 2010.

In addition to conducting, Spinella also performs a few songs, such as "Funiculi Funicula" and the perennial favorite, "O Sole Mio," as part of the show.

The Italian American Club of Venice is proud to have Maestro Joseph Spinella back again for this season. Spinella is a classically trained tenor soloist and performer, offering a diversified repertoire including opera, classical crossover, musical theater, light jazz and romantic songs. He is a tenor of the 21st Century and is best known for his charismatic live performances. He sings in six languages and his repertoire includes many songs in Italian, Spanish, English, and French.

Spinella was awarded a scholarship to Manhattan School of Music in New York City. A few years ago, he was discovered by Paul Nadler, one of the Metropolitan Opera conductors and was invited to work with Metropolitan Opera coaches in NYC. This began his regular sessions with Joan Dorneman, who was also Luciano Pavarotti's vocal coach for thirty years.

Spinella has participated in Master Classes with Birgit Nielsen, Eleanor Steber, and Regina Resnik. His tenor voice quality was described by Princeton's weekly newspaper, Town Topics, as "a solid Metropolitan Opera level performer."

His current album, Spinella Tenor of Illusions, is available on both and iTunes and has been featured on various radio stations in the U.S. The album features poperatic arias and traditional music that exemplifies classic Neapolitan songs. Backed by the Emmy-award winning, Macedonia Radio Symphony Orchestra, this all-Italian album contains 13 songs and displays Spinella's mastery of bell'arte del canto.

Additionally, Spinella premiered his classical music and magic show, illusionAria , last March and is preparing for tour. The combination of powerful singing live onstage and remembering cues for the magic illusions can be daunting. Besides rehearsing for the show, rehearsals with the mandolin orchestra had to be arranged as well.

"It's a bit of multi-tasking," Spinella says, "rehearsing illusionAria and working with the Sarasota Mandolin Orchestra, but it is very energizing at the same time. The gentle tones from the strings actually support and highlight the voice. Audiences seem to enjoy this interplay of singer, conductor and orchestra; so we make it fun."

"One of my goals is to keep this traditional music alive and introduce the mandolin orchestra to new generations of audiences," he continues laughingly. "Consequently, I am posting to Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest all the time."

Although stringed instruments go back to ancient times, the mandolin first appeared in Italy in the 17th and 18th century derived from modifications to the lute. The small size and portability made this an easy instrument for traveling musicians throughout Europe. The Neapolitan mandolin is easily recognized because of its almond-shaped and smoothly-rounded back, but mandolins come in a variety of styles.

Mandolin music almost went out of style in the late 1700's. Orchestras and composers preferred stringed instruments, like the violin and cello, which produced sustained musical notes. However, with the introduction of the tremolo style of playing and the transportability of the instrument, many musicians and local communities kept mandolin music popular.

In the 1960's, mandolins experienced a resurgence with the folk and traditional music. Today, the mandolin is a popular instrument for Celtic, bluegrass, jazz, and classical genres; and many recordings of mandolin virtuosos have been made in the last decade.

The Italian American Club of Venice looks forward to sponsoring this mandolin orchestra concert as part of their mission and goals. In addition to their charitable acts and community support, the club wants to foster and encourage knowledge of the language, art, culture and history of Italy, and to foster an understanding of that cultural heritage in our country. This is the fourth year that the Italian American Club of Venice has sponsored this program.

The Italian American Club of Venice is located at 1375 Ringling Dr, Venice, FL 34285-4116. The concert starts at 7 pm. Call (941) 493-8883 to purchase tickets.

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Joe Spinella
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Sarasota, FL
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