The Saarland mandolin orchestra (SZO) has existed for more than 60 years now and is one of the leading European orchestras of its kind. Since 1988 it has been conducted by the renowned guitarist Reiner Stutz. Apart from some professional instrumentalists cooperating with the orchestra it mainly consists of highly motivated lay musicians from local Saarland societies, many of whom are former winners of the Jugend Musiziert (young people playing music) competition. The about 30 well-trained and experienced players perform first-class instrumentation even as soloists.
The standard instrumentation: mandolin 1, mandolin 2, guitar, basso guitar, contrabass is at times complemented by cembalo and mandoloncello. Above that, international soloists with various instruments (oboe,piano, percussion) are invited.
The fact that BZVS (association of mandolin society and society for folk music) supports two further orchestras, the SJZO (Saarland Youth Mandolin Society) and SJGO (Saarland Youth Guitar Society) along with SZO is proof of the high interest attached to the recruiting of young talents. For more than 15 years both societies have been managed by the renowned guitarist Professor Stefan Jenzer – musical director of the federal mandolin society. The SZO prides itself of a long and splendid tradition and is highly respected among experts. Up to now every leader – being a composer as well – has given the orchestra his special impact as to repertory and style, thus creating his unmistakable era. The rise in skill rate and requirements for applicants has elevated the orchestra’s standard of performance to a rather professional one. At present the orchestra masters a great variety in style from Renaissance to contemporary music – it has received high praise for its execution of contemporary compositions.
Regular radio and CD recordings, frequent concerts, international mandolin festivals and concert tours at home and abroad are the pillars of the orchestra’s activities. All the members strive to keep up the highest possible level of artistic and technical standards.