Formed in 2003, the CMO brings together players of mandolin, mandola, mandocello, guitar and bass. It keeps alive the rich tradition of the mandolin groups that emerged in the first couple of decades of the 20th century.

The CMO's repertoire includes original Australian compositions, ritzy tunes from the dawn of the jazz age, light classics, film themes, world folk music and popular tunes. The orchestra meets every Monday evening at the Hellenic Club in Moore St, Civic. New players are always welcome and we provide tuition at the same venue from 6 pm each Monday (see below). We can also provide instrument loans for beginners.

Ann Carr-Boyd’s “Fandango” was the catalyst which launched the CMO in May 2003. Briefly, in 2003 Sam Leone heard the piece on ABC FM, rang the station for more information and decided Canberra needed a mandolin ensemble. He ran the idea past Canberra cellist, teacher and music shop owner Peter West who agreed and enthusiastically offered to be conductor. Leone advertised for players in the daily press and received 35 phone calls. Danny Silver of the Melbourne Mandolin Orchestra gave much valuable telephone advice on repertoire and management. The CMO kicked off with more than 25 very enthusiastic founding players on Tuesday 27th may 2003. The rest, as they say, is....CMO history.

Peter West generously donated his conducting and musical direction skills for the next two-and-a-half years. Michael Sollis then took up his baton and led us until recently. Heather Powrie swung the baton as associate conductor during this period (and continues to conduct in visiting role). The CMO has maintained a core of loyal members, developed an extensive and interesting repertoire and played hundreds of performances – commercial and for charity - since then. Two of our members Ian bull and Geoffrey Nelson conduct beginners classes weekly. Since 2020 we have enjoyed the conducting leadership of Michael Hardy, who continues to both arrange music from our repertoire, and push us relentlessly to strive to play better!

After the successful FAME festival held in Canberra in 2006 the CMO was even able to seed a second mandolin ensemble for Canberra. Another successful festival was hosted by the CMO in Canberra in January 2019.

We now look forward to many more years of years of musical success and companionship!