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About Brian Oberlin

BIOGRAPHY (IN SHORT)

Brian Oberlin is an internationally acclaimed mandolin player and educator. During his 16-year professional career, Brian has been playing swing, bluegrass, and Italian classical as a solo mandolinist and vocalist. Brian celebrated the release of his 20th album in May, 2016; Troubadour which features Brian playing solo and singing original music. Along with the myriad of award-winning bands (GER Mandolin Orchestra with Mike Marshall and Twin Mandolin Slingers with Evan J. Marshall) and ensembles he has collaborated with throughout the United States and Europe, Brian is also the founder and director of the River of the West Mandolin Camp, the Great Lakes Mandolin Camp and the Oregon Mandolin Orchestra. Brian was a top ten finalist at the 2013 Telluride Troubadour Contest, an instructor/performer at the 2012, 2013 and 2017 International Mandolin Academy in Italy, a featured soloist at the 2014 EuroFest Plucked String Festival in Bruchsal, Germany, and a featured soloist at the 2015 Mandolin Upgrade festival in Berlin, Germany. When he is not performing, Brian teaches music to children and adults at art centers, cultural events, festivals, camps, music schools and academies.

Brian OberlinSOLO CAREER

Since 2010, Brian has been playing almost exclusively as a soloist, performing swing, bluegrass, western swing, and Italian classical with vocals. His touring has brought him to festivals and concert halls around the U.S., Canada, Italy, Germany, Holland, and Poland. 2011 and 2012 brought the release of a double album, Solo Swing and Solo Swing Christmas. In 2013, after placing in the top ten at the prestigious Telluride Troubadour Contest (A contest in which hundreds of soloists apply and only 10 are selected), Brian released an LP of original music called Mandolin Troubadour. This album features his contest and award-winning song, Carbondale. In June of 2014, Brian performed at the EuroFest Plucked String Festival in Bruchsal, Germany in front of 1,200 mandolin and guitar enthusiasts from around the world to inaugurate the release of his Italian Classical Solo Mandolin album, Capriccio Fantastico. Although swing mandolin is Brian's forte, on the classical side of music he is often a featured soloist with orchestras performing his own compositions, orchestra arrangements, as well as Baroque, Romantic, and contemporary classical music. 2016 marks a good year for Brian as released his milestone 20th studio album, Troubadour. The album features all original music and mark Brian's fifth solo album.

teaching

Brian Oberlin, MandolinistBrian, a self taught musician, founded the River of the West Mandolin Camp, a four-day annual event (started in 2009) that features mandolin education taught by Brian and other world renowned mandolin players and educators, including Don Stiernberg, Carlo Aonzo, Radim Zenkl, Peter Ostroushko, Steffen Trekel, Evan Marshall, Marijke Wiesenekker, Chris Acquavella, and Emory Lester, Jordan Ramsey and the list keeps growing. Brian teaches between sixty and seventy mandolin workshops each year at festivals, arts centers, and academies around the world. Brian is also the founder of the Great Lakes Mandolin Camp in Michigan. The first annual of this annual Camp was in 2017. Brian was a faculty member at the 2012, 2013 and 2017 International Mandolin Academy in Italy and was a featured instructor at the 2014 Eurofestival and the Festival der Mandoline in Berlin, Germany in September, 2015. Brian was a recipient of the Regional Arts & Culture Council (RACC) grant to build his instructional website that features all of his concert appearances, photos, biographical and album information, and a special section for budding mandolinists, called the Lesson Hub: a resource of more than 100 pdfs of free mandolin instruction.

Brian Oberlinfull biography

Growing up in Rockford, Michigan, Brian Oberlin started playing music in grade school. His first instrument was the alto saxophone, which ignited his quest for more . . . drums, guitar, tenor banjo, fiddle, piano, concertina, and, of course, mandolin - his central instrument. One day in early High School, while listening to Diamond Rio, he heard an instrument that reminded him of trickling water and, upon reading the liner notes, wondered if the word “mandolin” was a misprint, having never heard of one. At the age of nineteen, he bought his first mandolin and immediately absolved himself by attending every bluegrass festival that he could and procured all the recordings and books financially available to him. Hungry to be part of a band, he started Slack String, a five-piece bluegrass band. This band later transformed into Northern Accent which would eventually travel all over the Midwest playing bluegrass festivals and exclusive concerts with the likes of Rhonda Vincent and Larry Sparks.

In 2001, Brian teamed up with multi-instrumentalist Glenn House, and they started the band, Grasshoppah, with Brian on electric mandolin, saxophone, tenor banjo, and vocals; Glenn on guitar, vocals, harmonica, kick drum, and high hat (all of which he plays simultaneously); Shane Bullis on bass and vocals; and, Dan Giacobassi on flute and tenor saxophone. Together, these musicians created a unique blend of styles of music. The band played more than 700 concerts covering the United States from Alaska to Pennsylvania. Some of their accolades include 2002 Jammie Award for “Local Artist of the Year” in Grand Rapids, Michigan; several weeks in the top-ten position of listener-sponsored radio stations across the country; a band with Vassar Clements; and, two albums, one of which was award-winning.

Reaching back to Brian's early stage of mandolin playing to 1998; he continues to play with his favorite musical partner, guitarist, Luke Gitchel. They both “grew up” on their respective instruments together and they now have a band called The Journeymen. Over their 17 year span, the musical pairing has won band contests and toured the U.S.

In 2005, Brian relocated to Portland, Oregon where he was the leading and founding member of three versatile and influential bands: Portland’s bluegrass and swing trio, Ida Viper; A stellar duet with virtuoso bassist, Josh Feinberg, Bass Mandolin; and Caravan Gogh, Portland’s original mysterioso band which was featured in “Sing Out” magazine.

Brian placed in the top 5 at the 2003 National Mandolin Championship in Winfield, Kansas, and, in 2009, his song, “Carbondale,” won the songwriting contest at the Festival. Brian’s songwriting has earned him an honorable mention at the Woody Guthrie Song Contest and the prestigious Kerrville Folk Festival in Texas.

Since 2010, Brian has been playing almost exclusively as a soloist, performing swing, bluegrass, western swing, and Italian classical with vocals. His touring has brought him to festivals and concert halls around the U.S., Canada, Italy, Germany, Holland, and Poland. 2011 and 2012 brought the release of a double album, Solo Swing and Solo Swing Christmas. In 2013, after placing in the top ten at the prestigious Telluride Troubadour Contest (A contest in which hundreds of soloists apply and only 10 are selected), Brian released an LP of original music calledMandolin Troubadour. This album features his contest and award-winning song, Carbondale. In June of 2014, Brian performed at the EuroFest Plucked String Festival in Bruchsal, Germany in front of 1,200 mandolin and guitar enthusiasts from around the world to inaugurate the release of his Italian Classical Solo Mandolin album, Capriccio Fantastico. Although swing mandolin is Brian's forte, on the classical side of music he is often a featured soloist with orchestras performing his own compositions, orchestra arrangements, as well as Baroque, Romantic, and contemporary classical music. 2016 marks a good year for Brian as released his milestone 20th studio album, Troubadour. The album features all original music and mark Brian's fifth solo album.

In 2010, Brian founded the Oregon Mandolin Orchestra. The thirty-member orchestra, directed by Brian, features mandolin-family instruments and performs Baroque, Romantic, Pop, Folk, Classical, and original arrangements and compositions. The Orchestra has performed 40 concerts as well as annually playing the National Anthem for Portland's Single A baseball team, the Hillsboro Hops. Brian has played nearly 2000 concerts and his list of bands and collaborations is extensive. Some highlights include The GER Mandolin Orchestra with Mike Marshall, a living tribute to a World War II era Jewish mandolin orchestra from Poland; A ground-breaking duet album in 2015 with mandolin virtuoso Evan Marshall, Twin Mandolin Slingers; several stringed instrument orchestras in Europe; Grasshoppah, Michigan's 2002 Jammie Award winner; The Journeymen; Ramblin' Jack Elliot; Vassar Clements; The Quebe Sisters; and, Brian's own trio and quartet bands, performing a wide variety of music.

Brian, a self taught musician, founded the River of the West Mandolin Camp, a four-day annual event (started in 2009) that features mandolin education taught by Brian and other world renowned mandolin players and educators, including Don Stiernberg, Carlo Aonzo, Radim Zenkl, Peter Ostroushko, Steffen Trekel, Evan Marshall, Marijke Wiesenekker, Chris Acquavella, and Emory Lester. Brian teaches between sixty and seventy mandolin workshops each year at festivals, arts centers, and academies around the world. Brian was a faculty member at the 2012 and 2013 International Mandolin Academy in Italy and was a featured instructor at the 2014 Eurofestival and the Festival der Mandoline in Berlin, Germany in September, 2015. Brian will be on faculty at the International Mandolin Academy in Savona, Italy in 2017. Brian was a recipient of the Regional Arts & Culture Council (RACC) grant to build his instructional website that features all of his concert appearances, photos, biographical and album information, and a special section for budding mandolinists, called the Lesson Hub: a resource of more than 100 pdfs of free mandolin instruction.

Oregon Mandolin Orchestra

Oregon Mandolin Orchestra

In 2010, Brian founded the Oregon Mandolin Orchestra. The thirty-member orchestra, directed by Brian, features mandolin-family instruments and performs Baroque, Romantic, Pop, Folk, Classical, and original arrangements and compositions. From 2010 to 2017, the Orchestra has performed nearly 50 concerts, released a live album and is still going strong.

Accolades (as of march 2017)

  • Member of the world renowned GER Mandolin Orchestra which has toured the U.S., Canada, and Europe

  • Founder of the West coast's elite mandolin camp – The River of the West Mandolin Camp which started in 2009

  • Founder, musical director, and conductor of the Oregon Mandolin Orchestra

  • Eight tours of teaching and performing in many European countries since 2011

  • Appeared as the featured American artist at many European musical festivals and academies

  • Has performed nearly 2000 concerts in the US, Canada, and Europe.

  • Has taught over 500 mandolin workshops and over 1200 private lessons on many stringed instruments

  • Has recorded 20 studio albums

  • Has nearly 50 recording sessions for other artists, commercials, and instructional videos

  • Winner of several songwriting competitions

  • Winner of Grand Rapids' WYCE's 2002, Artist of the Year Jammie award.

  • Has performed with many famous musicians including Vassar Clements, Johnny Gimble, Ramblin' Jack Elliot, Avi Avital, Carlo Aonzo, Mike Marshall, Evan Marshall, and Rhonda Vincent

  • Has performed a multitude of benefit concerts at public and private schools, and many organizations

  • His original sheet music has been published by Trekel Music, a prestigious European plucked string music publisher

  • Brian has self-published two mandolin books and a Ukulele improvisation DVD

  • A frequent contributor to music education oriented magazines, websites, and newsletters

  • His own website offering over 100 free PDFs of mandolin education materials

  • Cover feature of the spring 2013 issue of Mandolin Magazine

  • A self-taught musician and vocalist

  • In 2016, Brian was inducted into the Rockford High School Hall of Fame in his hometown of Rockford, Michigan.

  • Founder of the Great Lakes Mandolin Camp which started in 2017