2019 CMSA Convention

October 9-13, 2019 in Bloomington-Normal, Illinois

Held at the Bloomington-Normal Marriott Hotel & Conference Center


2019 CMSA Convention

The Classical Mandolin Society of America and your host, the Orpheus Mandolin Orchestra, invite you to attend the 33rd Annual CMSA Convention, in Bloomington-Normal, Illinois, Tuesday afternoon, October 8 through Sunday noon on October 13, 2019 at the Marriott Bloomington-Normal Hotel & Conference Center.

Following the option of one of three pre-convention workshops, the convention kicks off on Wednesday afternoon with a set of workshops and the first En Masse Orchestra rehearsal with returning conductor Dr. Jim Bates, followed by the Welcome Party in the evening. Evening concerts featuring our guest performers and our host orchestra will take place on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. You can also look forward to open mic concerts, daily workshops on classical and non-classical topics, and late night sight reading and other ‘jams’. Friday includes our Gala banquet and raffle. The general CMSA membership meeting is Sunday morning, a last chance to spend time with bleary-eyed sore fingered friends. 


The 2019 CMSA Convention will be at the Bloomington-Normal Marriott Hotel & Conference Center in Normal, Illinois. 

Reserve your room at the Bloomington-Normal Marriott Hotel & Conference Center

The Marriot Hotel is offering a special CMSA group rate of $129 per night for convention attendees arriving 10/7/2019 and departing 10/13/2019. Onsite parking (normally $10 per day) is complementary for those booking online through our website link. Book online before 9/15/2019 to receive the discounted rate.  

If you want to take a few days to vacation in the Land of Lincoln before or after the convention, our negotiated hotel rate is valid three days prior and three days post-convention dates. IMPORTANT:  If you plan to take advantage of this and are unable to get the preferred rate online, please reserve your room by phone at 1-888-236-2427. Identify yourself as belonging to the “CMSA Group Block”.


By air to Bloomington-Normal

Central Illinois Regional Airport (BMI) is served by American, Delta, Allegiant, and Frontier airlines. The hotel offers complimentary airport shuttle service, on request.

By air to Chicago

You can fly into Chicago Midway (MDW) or Chicago O’Hare (ORD) and catch a shuttle or rent a car.

A note to O’Hare flyers: Peoria Charter Coach offers four daily shuttles from Chicago O’Hare to Uptown Normal. The October schedule will open for purchase about 6 weeks in advance. https://peoriacharter.com.

A note to Midway flyers:  If you fly into Chicago Midway (MDW), there are four daily Lincoln Service trains that go from Chicago to Bloomington-Normal. Three of the four (303, 305, and 307) make a scheduled stop near Midway in Summit, IL. You can buy your Amtrak ticket from Summit to Bloomington-Normal and completely avoid the trip downtown to Union Station. An Uber ride from Midway to Summit Amtrak station is less than 20 minutes and is not on freeways which may be congested. Plus it’s a cheaper option both for Amtrak and Uber. Thank you to Matthew Lewis of Dallas for the tip! 

By train

The Amtrak station is one block from the Marriott. There are ten daily trains at this stop along the Chicago to Saint Louis corridor. From other locations, you can connect through Chicago or Saint Louis.


We are located in central Illinois at the junction of I-55, I-74, and I-39. Historic Route 66 runs through Bloomington-Normal.

More questions about transportation? Email [email protected].


Guest Artists

Sebastiaan de Grebber
Guest Performer

Dutch mandolinist Sebastiaan de Grebber will be one of the guest performers and will offer a pre-convention workshop. As well as being a true ambassador of the virtuosic and original Italian mandolin repertoire of the 20th Century, de Grebber’s interest also lies in modern music. Modern music also helps in photo essay composing to portrait the faces of music notes. By portraying the versatility of the mandolin he wishes to inspire contemporary composers to write for the instrument in different formations. Currently, Sebastiaan is music education and mandolin teacher at the ArtEZ Conservatory in Zwolle, is the concertmaster of ‘Het Consort, is the director of the ‘Kamper Mandoline en Gitaar Orkest’ and gives mandolin solo, duo and Quintet recitals and concerts with Eva van den Dool (piano) and much more. For more information, visit Sebastiaan’s website at http://www.degrebber-mandolin.com/.

Naeim Rahmani
Guest Performer

Naeim Rahmani will be a guest performer and will offer a pre-convention workshop on classical guitar. Award winning guitarist Naeim Rahmani was born in Isfahan, Iran and immigrated to the United States as a refugee in 2003. Currently based in Seattle, Naeim completed his Master’s degree with Rene Izquierdo at the University of Wisconsin at Milwaukee. Naeim has performed throughout the US and internationally and enjoys bringing his music to small community or arthouse spaces where he can interact with the audience. Outside of his performance career Naeim is the director of the Seattle-Isfahan Guitar Project. Naeim is an experienced and popular teacher. He served for several years as the lead classical guitar instructor at the Latino Arts Strings Program in Milwaukee, a non-profit organization dedicated to encouraging the artistic development of youth in the community. While there he also served as director of the annual guitar festival and competition. Naeim currently teaches at Bellevue College and is a booking coordinator for Aranjuez Artists, Inc. For more information, visit Naeim’s website at https://www.naeimrahmani.com/.

Fabio Giudice
Guest Performer

M° Fabio Giudice, born in Rome, studied the Classical Guitar under the tutelage and guidance of M° B. Battisti D’Amario. He obtained a diploma at the Conservatory of Santa Cecilia in Rome and continued specialized courses with other masters such as José Tomas, Alirio Diaz.

His life has been dedicated to the study of plucked instruments and he acquired a diploma in Mandolin at the Conservatory of L’Aquila with M° Fabio Menditto. He specialized as an executor of Mandoloncello (Liuto cantabile) and attended specialized courses with M° Ugo Orlandi in ancient instruments.

Fabio Giudice has been rewarded as a soloist in many international musical contests, including the quartet Arte Mandolinistica and with Quartetto a Plettro Italiano. He collaborated in the past and he is at present a guitar and mandolin soloist with many orchestras such as: Accademia of Santa Cecilia, Opera Theatre of Rome, Musici of Montreal (Canada), The Solist of ORM -Losanna, Opera Theatre of Neuchatel (Switzerland), The Ensemble Contrechamps (Ginevra, CH), etc. He has also performed as a soloist in various orchestral formations in many countries throughout Europe, USA, Canada, Australia, Pakistan, Singapore, Tunisia, Turkey, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, Taiwan, Japan and South Korea.

He has worked and recorded with many major radio and television stations in Italy, the Swiss Radio Romande, Vatican Radio and for Egea records; he has also recorded a CD for QB Forme as a soloist with the mandoloncello (liuto cantabile) playing the music from the famous Raffaele Calace.

Since 1986, he has founded many musical associations for the assimilation and propagation of original repertory of pinched instruments. As a Director of Circolo Mandolinistico, “C. Bertucci” of Rome, he organized, for the Rome Municipality, four editions of the Maratona Mandolinistica and many festival and musical reviews. He regularly gives master classes of international standards in Italy and abroad. He is the mandolin teacher at the Conservatory “Alfredo Casella” dell’Aquila.

Robert Lunn

This year’s composer-in-residence is composer and guitarist Robert Lunn. He received his Doctorate of Musical Arts in Music Composition from The Ohio State University in June of 2010. Winner of the 2008 Ruth Friscoe Award for his Sonata for Guitar, Dr. Lunn was a three-time recipient of the Donald and Marilyn Harris Scholarship at Ohio State. He was also awarded the Graduate Teaching Award in Music Theory while teaching at Ohio State. He received a BA from Hope College and a Masters in Music Theory and Composition from The Pennsylvania State University. Dr. Lunn has taught at The Ohio State University, Grand Valley State University, Hope College and Lake Michigan College. He is currently a full-time instructor at Lake Michigan College where he teaches music theory, music technology, guitar and directs the jazz band. He studied guitar with Larry Malfroid at Hope College and participated in master classes with Christopher Parkening and Paul O’Dette. Dr. Lunn has released twelve albums that can be found on iTunes, Spotify, as well as many other online shops. For more information, visit http://robertlunn.com.

Jim Bates
En Masse Orchestra Conductor

Returning as conductor of the EnMasse Orchestra is our own Jim Bates—AND he will offer a pre-convention workshop in conducting! He is Director of Orchestral Activities at Otterbein University in Columbus, OH and serves as an assistant conductor for the Westerville Symphony (OH) and Columbus Symphony Youth Orchestras. Conducting duties in the department include leading the string orchestra and directing the early music ensemble. As a conductor and teacher, Dr. Bates is able to draw on considerable experience as an educator, performer and historian. He has served as president of Kentucky ASTA and as string coordinator for the Kentucky Governor’s School for the Arts. From 2010-2012 Dr. Bates chaired the Coda Bows for America Community Outreach Program for ASTA, and currently serves on the state board of the Ohio String Teacher’s Association. In addition to string education he is very involved with the Classical Mandolin Society of America and period instrument performance. He is on the National Board of Directors of CMSA and chairs their educational initiatives. Dr. Bates is music director of The Early Interval, Columbus’ professional early music performance ensemble and serves on the board of directors for Early Music Columbus. He has degrees from the University of Louisville (B.M.E.), a Masters in double bass performance from Indiana University, where he studied bass with Lawrence Hurst and baroque performance with Stanley Ritchie, and a Ph.D. in Musicology from the University of Kentucky. He has two sons, Ethan and Gideon.

Pre-Convention Workshops

October 8th, 6:00 pm and October 9th, 8:30 am

This year’s convention will offer a choice of three pre-convention activities on Tuesday, October 8 starting at 6 pm and continuing on Wednesday, October 9 at 8:30 am. Each 6-hour seminar is separate from the convention and requires a registration fee of $50. Register early as spaces are limited!

Classical Mandolin Techniques Class with  Sebastiaan de Grebber

Tech Class I: Tuesday 8th October 18:00-21:30

Ensemble Workshop: Interactive Ensemble Playing 2.0

Tech Class II: Wednesday 9th October 8:30-11:00

Composing your own Warm-up Routine Piece

Ensemble Workshop: Interactive Ensemble Playing 2.0

Most of the mandolin players, or musicians in general, have some or extended experience in playing together, simply because making music together is most rewarding in many ways. Usually matters such as: following a conductor, deciding tempos and dynamics, nodding when to start after a fermate are necessary basics. Still, not everything can be put into words, agreements or the beat of a conductor. In this workshop we try to appeal to overview, musical intuition, ears and how technique can serve as a means to play together.

  • Interactive ensemble opening your ears to others
  • ho-ke-tus, interlocking and other composing forms that help playing together
  • about mandolin-techniques as means to ensemble playing
  • playing music in different parts that are equal and complementary

Composing your own Warm-up Routine Piece

An early morning class ask for a warming-up. Besides getting those little muscles in your fingers up steam, one of the most important things is to have left and right work together in sync. So, you might think of going over some scales again…. Or not? What if you could be creative and do warming up at the same time: use existing beautiful music to train or even write your own compositions. Let us exercise, make music and explore our options:

  • working on left and right hand synchronicity (through 16th notes, runs and arpeggio’s)
  • using actual music as exercises and explore the why (not)s
  • discovering strengths and points for improvement
  • composing your own exercise material, towards composing solo-material

Classical Guitar Techniques Class with Naiem Rahmani

Becoming a better performer: Techniques and strategies to improve your playing

This workshop will provide an opportunity for guitarists to improve their technical skills, tone production, and biomechanics. The workshop will begin with a variety of exercises and will be followed by the application of the skills learned to excerpts from the guitar repertoire. The workshop is suitable for guitarists at all levels. Participants will receive advance copies of the pieces to be used in the workshop.

Master Class in Conducting with Jim Bates

This workshop will help conductors improve their gestural vocabulary and error detection.  The workshop is not intended for the beginner conductor.  Participants should already be familiar with the patterns and basics of the conductor’s art. Scores and parts to be supplied in advance.

Tuesday, October 8, 6:00 PM

  • Problems in conducting; tempo changes; fermati; style
  • Error detection
  • Conducting class (working with a recording)
  • Q & A

Wednesday, October 9, 8:30 AM

  • Improving your ensemble through better rehearsing
  • Error detection
  • Conducting class (working with a live ensemble)
  • Self-reflection



There are many ways to take part in the convention, from Open Mic performance, to Volunteering, to Sponsorship.


Every year CMSA awards a variety of scholarships to mandolinists looking for extra assistance to come to the annual convention. We currently have scholarships for students, and one specifically for second mandolinists. Learn more and apply below. 


If you would like to be a convention volunteer, please send an email to Martha Tyner, the Host Committee’s Volunteer Coordinator, at [email protected].

Vendor Area

Anyone selling instruments, sheet music, music equipment or supplies, clothing or other goods is asked to rent a table in our Vendor area. We try to situate our Vendor areas so that they receive a high volume of traffic as our members move from activity to activity. Please ensure table is manned during convention hours.  Vendor tables can be rented on the event registration form.

Ad Space

The official Program of the Annual Convention reaches hundreds of musicians every year. To place an advertisement in our official Program, please indicate this when completing the online registration form (prices and sizing will be indicated). Note that you do not have to attend the convention to place an ad in the Program.

Open Mic

Look forward to lunch-time open mic sessions where single or groups of performers can show off the latest pieces they have been learning. We will have an Open Mic session on Thursday and on Saturday – 11:30 am to 1 pm. This is a very popular event!

Keep in mind that the Thursday Open Mic will have much more room for performances than the Saturday Open Mic. The organizers will do their best to slot you into your preferred day and time, however adjustments may have to be made in order to balance the sessions.


We invite you to help sponsor our annual convention and to reach out to our members.  Benefits such as ads in the Mandolin Journal and vendor tables allow you to connect with members. Learn more about bronze, silver, and gold levels of sponsorship below.


Help us support our programs and scholarships.

Your dollars will allow us to support the creation of new music for mandolin family instruments and orchestras, build an online library of historic and new mandolin music, support luthiers, and continue our educational goals to provide stimulating and innovative workshops, and support artists from around the world. Your generosity also supports our scholarship and Mando-for-Kids programs, supporting mandolin students.


Tee shirts and tote bags are available for pick up from the convention venue for those who wish to order them.  Convention gear may also be available for order during registration.

The tee shirts are Gildan Softstyle® 4.5 oz 100% ring spun cotton in Iris Blue with the convention logo printed on the front. Tee shirts will be available in semi-fitted unisex sizes Small, Medium, Large, Extra Large, 2XL and 3XL. The 100% cotton shirts may may shrink some. Tee shirts are $20 each.

CMSA tote bags have lots of pockets and measure: 14.5″ (w) x 16″ (h) x 4″ (d)

En Masse Orchestra

Pieces for the 2019 Convention

Australis Suite by Stephen Lalor

Iberia by Claudio Mandonico

Magnificent Mountain by Robert Lunn,
this year’s composer-in-residence 

Suite Marinesca by Amadeo Amadei

Yutuma by Chris Acquavella

This year’s convention will be crowned with our famous En Masse Orchestra performance, conducted by Dr. Jim Bates. Any mandolin players who double on mandola, guitar, or mandocello are encouraged to play lower voiced instruments to help balance the orchestra.

The dress code for the En Masse Concert is black slacks or skirt and black shirt or blouse.

To access the EnMasse music, sign in to your CMSA account. Select the Convention tab. If you do not see your account information, click the Sign-In option on the top menu bar of the website.

Note that the sheet music provided here is under copyright. By accessing the music, you agree not to redistribute the music in any form or file format for commercial or any other purposes.

Watch our video

Pricing & Registration

Registration fee includes all materials and activities of the convention, including the Welcome Party, convention workshops, Gala Banquet, open mic sessions, concerts, late night jam sessions, and En Masse music for those playing in the orchestra.  Pre-convention workshops, tote bags, t-shirts, and membership renewal are additional.

You must be a member of CMSA to register for the convention. This year, we are offering 2020 membership renewal as an option during online registration.