The “Orchestra a Plettro” was founded at the beginning of the 20th century. The reason to create an orchestra consisting of mandolins, mandolas, mandoloncelli, guitars and contrabasses arose from the common desire of the enthusiastic and experienced musicians to form an ensemble so that they could play music together .Today the “Orchestra a Plettro” is the pride of Taormina and known not only in Italy but all over the world. For centuries the mandolin had been reserved to the performances at Court. This changed by the end of the 19th century. The instrument was improved by excellent mandolin makers. Famous composers raised the level of the repertory. In all social classes it became fashionable to play the mandolin and it began to be part of everyday life. In fact, in those days it was in Taormina quite normal that workmen kept a mandolin in their workshop and every now and then recited a sonata for the pleasure of everybody. This happened mainly at the shoemaker’s, the plumber’s or the barber’s, wherever one had to wait and wanted to while away the time. Often several persons played together and independently from each other two small groups emerged, one for wind instruments and one for plucked instruments. It was at the beginning of the 20th century when both groups fused into one. That was the start of a triumphant advance of the mandolin which lasted until the War broke out. With the years the wind instruments disappeared since most of the musicians preferred the string instruments. As time went on this lead to a structure such as we still have it in the orchestra today.
After the war it was Maestro Cosimo Aucello who heightened the level of the music pieces and by doing so set a new trend to the orchestra’s development. He established regular lessons for the instruments ( mandolin and guitar ). From then on hundreds of mandolin and guitar players were professionally trained in this art. He made researches, traced old scores and in no time was able to enlarge the repertory. In the seventies Maestro Chico Scimone assumed the position of conductor. Chico Scimone, pianist and marathon runner, known for his famous climbing inside the Empire State Building, began to include in the orchestra’s repertory evergreens of the New World and film music in arrangements written by himself. At the same time Maestro Pancrazio Gulotta, then Taormina’s best mandolinist, composed his pieces. His is a music full of joie de vivre, but also pervaded by a deep Sicilian melancholy. His compositions make high demands on the artist. Still today Gulotta’s music is regularly played by the orchestra.
From the very beginning the “Orchestra a Plettro di Taormina” has increased its fame by diligent and constant work. Innumerable concerts in Italy and the whole world contributed to this popularity. In Sicily the orchestra played in the “Teatro Vittorio Emanuele”, Messina, and in the “Palazzo Biscari”,Catania. In Italy it appeared in Rom. Abroad it performed in Hamburg, Berlin, Frankfurt and Barcelona, in Miami, New York, Pittsburg and Boston. It was an unforgettable happening when in 1999 the Japanese State Television arrived to shoot a documentary film. During the Summer Festival which is regularly held in the Greek Theatre, the “ Orchestra a Plettro” keeps its permanent place in the demanding program of “Taormina Arte” and “Estate Musicale”. Since 20 years the orchestra’s traditional “ New Year’s Concert” is the highlight of Taormina’s winter program of events .