2020 Convention in the Clouds

November 13-15, 2020

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CMSA 2020

Convention in the Cloud(s)

November 13-15, 2020

 While we will miss seeing everyone in-person, we look forward to seeing you in the Cloud(s).

Convention concerts, workshops, and OnDemand media will be available to registrants to watch in your own timeframe through the end of 2020.

If you did not bookmark the site, return to the email you received from CMSA 2020 and request a magic link be sent to you.

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The Classical Mandolin Society of America invites you to attend the 34th Annual CMSA Convention in the Cloud(s) Friday, November 13th through Sunday the 15th. Since we are gathering virtually this year, the convention will have many of the usual activities, but modified for an online format.

While the platform is virtual this year, the quality of the performers, workshop presenters, and musicians remains top-notch. Concerts include performances from guest artists in Australia, England, and France, so concert start-times will vary depending on your location. Your days will include a steady stream of activities including workshops and panel discussions with renowned musicians and educators, hangout sessions, an online banquet, awards, and the general meeting.

Virtual En Masse Experience

Virtual En Masse Orchestra

The Virtual En Masse Orchestra will perform Heavens On Earth, composed in three movements (New Harmony, Equity, Shakertown) by our own John Goodin. Musicians will receive their parts with plenty of time to prepare. En Masse players will rehearse at home using video recordings by the section leaders. There will be a sectional during the convention. For the En Masse performance, we will play along from home with section leaders under the baton of conductor Dr. Jim Bates.

A composite En Masse performance video will be created by year-end with audio/video submitted by En Masse participants. Watch the “Filming YOUR Part for EnMasse” video and submit your recording by December 5, 2020.

Convention Registrants: Login to view audio and video rehearsal and play-along tracks.

The following content is accessible for members only, please sign in.

The following content is accessible for members only, please sign in.

Guest Artists


To give you a sense of what to expect from Plektra, here is Bob Margo’s 2014 review of their last CD:

“Of the various mandolin cultures in the world, Australia’s is arguably closest to that in the United States. Plektra, a seven-member ensemble, is the brainchild of Stephen Lalor, one of the leading lights of the mandolin scene down under (CMSA members who attended the recent convention (2012) in Minneapolis no doubt have fond memories of Plektra’s outstanding performances there). All of the music on the CD is arranged or composed by Lalor. The playing is highly polished with (very) tight ensemble and beautiful sound throughout. Lalor’s music is immediately appealing — harmonically straightforward, highly melodic and rhythmic with a strong Russian influence (such as the first and third movements of the “Brisbane Suite,” a highlight of the CD). Many mandolinists talk a world music game, but Lalor (and Plektra) walk the walk and play for keeps.”

Plektra & Dr. Stephen Lalor 

mandolinist, composer, conductor

 A plectrum-instrument specialist, Dr. Stephen Lalor guests as principal mandolin, guitar (& related instruments) with orchestras throughout Australia & abroad, featuring as solo mandolinist on CD releases by ABC Classics, The Sydney Symphony Orchestra, Opera Australia & Pinchgut Opera/Orchestra of the Antipodies (Sydney). Most recently he was a featured soloist on the Singapore Symphony’s 2019 recording of the Shostakovitch Jazz Suites (release date 2021). He has been recording for the ABC (Australian Broadcasting Corporation) since his teenage years. His first major solo mandolin recital was at the Sydney Opera House in 1983.

Apart from a PhD in Composition, Stephen Lalor has a Masters in Musicology and postgraduate studies in domra (mandolin), composition and conducting at the Tchaikovsky Conservatorium in Kiev.  A selection of his music is published by Trekel Verlag, Hamburg. Representative pieces are in the collections of the Médiathèque Musicale Mahler (Paris) & the US Library of Congress.

Recent tours have included with the Australian Chamber Orchestra in 2016 (London, Copenhagen, Edinburgh, USA) and the Sydney Symphony Orchestra (China, September 2017). He has performed with a range of ensembles & orchestras at all the major Australian festivals, as well as the Edinburgh, Tsaritsyn (Moscow), Bulgakov (Moscow) & Montreux Jazz Festivals and Tanglewood (USA).

Dr Stephen Lalor directs and composes for the Sydney-based mandolin/guitar ensemble Plektra. He has conducted mandolin orchestras and ensembles in Australia & on overseas tours; his music has been featured at the BDZ Eurofest.


Simon Mayor & Hilary James

A witty and captivating mix of folk, swing, blues and classical showstoppers” (The Guardian) spiced with Simon Mayor’s unique brand of off-beat humour and Hilary’s “honey-dripping voice”. There can’t be many performers who can slide easily from a beautifully evocative Irish ballad into a mandolin and guitar version of Handel’s Arrival of the Queen of Sheba and finish with everyone singing one of their own notoriously comic children’s songs (reminiscent of Hilaire Belloc and Flanders and Swan). This talented duo have travelled the world from Vancouver to Singapore.

Simon Mayor is one of the world’s leading mandolin virtuosos as well as a fine guitarist and fiddle player. He has had his own series on Radio 2 and an album in the Classic FM Top Ten chart, but his most thrilling moment was a journey through the square window on BBC’s Playschool!

Hilary James’ “elegant singing” (Daily Telegraph) easily crosses the great musical divides from Celtic ballads to blues and Berlioz. Her CDs have been played everywhere from Radio 1 to Latvia and Los Angeles. Described on BBC Radio 4 as “one of Britain’s finest voices” she is also famed for an unusual taste in bass instruments (she may turn up with her giant mandobass or slimline acoustic bass) and she might even manage a step-dance if the wind’s in the right direction.


Natalia Korsak (mandolin & domra)

Natalia’s practice of these two plucked string instruments allows her to put her sensitivity and virtuosity both at the service of the Slavic repertoire, as well as of classical and contemporary repertoires.

Born in Polotsk in 1983, she studied in Nikolai Maretzki’s domra class at the Higher Academy of Music in Minsk, from which she graduated in 2007.

Natalia Korsak won first prizes in several International Mandolin and Domra Competitions: Osaka (Japan / 2005), Minsk (Belarus / 2007), Vissani (Greece / 2007), Esch-sur-Alzette (Luxembourg / 2011).

Her concerts with the domrist Alexander Tsygankov, the balalaikist Andreï Gorbachev, the guitarist Roland Dyens, the pianist Jonas Vitaud, or the accordionist Richard Galliano have led her to perform in many festivals including Poland, Russia, Estonia, Spain, Germany, France, Japan, to name a few.

She is also a member of the Ensemble C Barré (contemporary creation), of 2 + 2 Quartet (dedicated to the interpretation of the music of Ricardo Sandoval), and of the Duo Korsak-Collet (mandolin / guitar and domra / guitar), with which she released in 2019 Nébuleuse , an album devoted to French music transcriptions of the 20th century (Messiaen, Dutilleux, Ravel …) and in 2020 released Echos, a collection of Russian music for domra and guitar.

Natalia also collaborates with many groups: Ensemble Orchestral Contemporain , Orchester d’Auvergne , the Soloists of the Orchester de Radio-France , Orchestra Stringendo , National Orchester de la Radio Belorusse , Ensemble Expressia de Minsk, and composers (dedicatees of works by Efrem Podgaits, Nikita Koshkin, Vincent Beer-Demander …) After having worked ten years as a soloist at the Belarusian National Philharmonic and as a domra teacher at the Higher Academy of Music in Minsk, Natalia Korsak currently teaches the mandolin at the Conservatoire à Rayonnement Régional in Annecy and directs the Estudiantina (plectrum ensemble) there.


Duo Korsak Collet

In the May 2020 issue of the Mandolin Journal, Robert Margo’s review of the Duo Korsak-Collet ‘s latest CD Echoes referred to the “astonishing virtuosity and musicality” of this duo. This is a very apt description, and we know you’ll agree once you’ve experienced their concert at ‘Convention in the Clouds’. The depth of their talent is referenced in their individual biographies.

Matthias Collet (guitar)

Born in 1979 in Saverne, Matthias Collet discovered singing and playing the guitar at a young age within his family.

He studied classical guitar with the Argentinian Masters Pablo Marquez ( DEM , CRR of Strasbourg, 1999) and Roberto Aussel ( Diplôme d’Interprète , Musikhochschule de Cologne, 2005), before perfecting himself with Jacques Pirotton (jazz guitar) and Paco Serrano (flamenco guitar).

His predilection for ensemble music led him to perform in duo and quartet formations: Café para dos (Latin American music, with Ricardo Sandoval, mandolin), Duo Korsak-Collet (music from Russia, with Natalia Korsak, domra), Duo Scherzoso (classical music, with Loïc Schneider, flute), La Veillée Imaginée (traditional music from Auvergne, with Patrice Rix, hurdy-gurdy, and Béatrice Berne, clarinet), etc. Matthias makes arrangements and transcriptions for these, some of which are published by Productions d’Oz (Canada) and Editions Habanera (Lyon).

In 2013, Matthias toured as a soloist in southern Argentina, as part of the Guitarras del Mundo festival . He has been performing for twenty years in Europe, Russia, Japan and Latin America.

Matthias Collet has made several recordings of contemporary creations (Claudio Gabriele, Gilles Raynal, Thérèse Brenet, Efrem Podgaits), as well as more personal albums: Café para dos (2008), Rosa Blanca (2009) in duet with Ricardo Sandoval, Nébuleuse (2019), a collection of daring transcriptions for mandolin and guitar from the modern French repertoire (Messiaen, Dutilleux, Ravel, Ohana), or even Echos (2020 ), entirely devoted to the Russian repertoire for domra and guitar, in duet with his wife Natalia Korsak.

Matthias Collet is a full professor at the Emmanuel Chabrier Conservatory in Clermont-Ferrand, he is also invited to give Masterclasses and internships (Higher School of Music of Burgundy, Higher Academy of Music of Minsk …)


Dr. Jim Bates 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 as president 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 a member of the national Board of Directors of CMSA. 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.

Dr. Jim Bates

Conductor, En Masse Orchestra Experience

Workshops and More


Sebastiaan de Grebber: Caught Right-Handed. Sebastiaan will go over the fundamentals of right hand technique, practical applications, and reasons why. Tremolo, cross-picking, arpeggios and more, in levels from basic to advanced.

Fabio Giudice: Bickford’s Mandocello. Fabio will give an overview of Zarh Myron Bickford’s method for mandocello, with special focus on the “Technical Studies” (pp. 62-70) and “Solo and Duo Playing” (pp. 88-91). using the new bass clef edition by Benjamin Ash. 

Jim Bates: Practicing as Meditation. Immerse yourself in the sensory experience of practice, allow time to be fluid and transcend your limitations. Having your instrument at hand will be useful.

Meet the Composer: A Panel Discussion with Philip DeWalt, James Kellaris, and Werner Ruecker. CMSA member Joel Hobbs will preside over a panel of three prominent composers – Phil DeWalt, James Kellaris, and Werner Ruecker. Each composer will give an overview of their works for plucked strings, with excerpts from scores and recorded performances.

Perspectives on Teaching: A Panel Discussion with Abigail Cannon, Jory Noble, and Alex Timmerman. Join CMSA co-president Sue Lesser, who will moderate a discussion by Abigail, Jory, and Alex of key current issues in the teaching of plucked strings.

Hilary James and Simon Mayor: Voice and Mandolin (and mandola …). Simon and Hilary will explore how to make every note count when there is no band, just a singer and a mandolin family instrument to accompany the voice – mandolin, mandola, or mandocello.

The Hampton Trio (Robert Margo, Beverly Davis, & Mark Davis): Chamber Ensemble Workshop. Join the Hampton Trio for a hands-on workshop on ensemble playing. The Trio will cover two pieces from their repertoire – Mark Linkins, “Fireflies” and Angel Barrios, “Danza Árabe”. Have your instrument handy and be sure to print out the sheet music in advance, so you can play along with the Trio at home.

Aaron Weinstein: Jazz Mandolin Chord Melody. Aaron will give an overview of chord melody in jazz mandolin and discuss common stylistic techniques in this live workshop. There will be time for up to three participants to play their own arrangements during the workshop for Aaron to comment on.

Matthias Collet: Antonio Lauro’s Venezuelan Waltzes for Guitar. Guest artist Matthias Collet is an expert on Latin American guitar music. Join him for an exploration of the Venezuelan waltzes of one of the most important Latin American composers for guitar, Antonio Lauro. 

Handouts for workshops will be posted in advance of the convention. Workshop participants will have opportunities to ask questions of presenters, either during or after the workshop or webinar.

Each evening, we’ll host hangout sessions on specific topics, such as Mando for Kidsa Mandola Meet-up with Robert Margo, a Mandocello Meet-up with Jim Imhoff, and others to be announced.

Spotlight Videos

CMSA is commissioning special videos to be premiered during Convention in the Clouds.

Carlo Aonzo’s multi-part video series L’Italia dei 1000 Mandolini has been a YouTube hit. CMSA has commissioned Carlo to develop English subtitles for his 8-episode  video series, tentatively titled History of the Italian Mandolin.

The CMSA Education Committee announces our Mandolins Make a Difference (Mandolins MAD) program. Historically, mandolin clubs had a philanthropic, service, and social aspect to them. CMSA would like to update the historic intentions of mandolin orchestras to serve their communities by making  fundamental differences in who plays, how we play, where we play, and why we play. Mandolins Make a Difference!

If you’ve ever been curious about the mandolin shops in Japan, you will want to watch this special video: A Visit to Tokyo’s Mandolin Shops by CMSA member Taku Hijikata. The tour will start with the Ikegaku Mandolin & Guitar Shop in Tokyo. Ikegaku carries several lines of instruments, including some ‘made-in-Japan’. Their instruments are used in schools, college, mandolin circles and by many professionals. In addition to a full range of instruments, they carry a selection of print music & CDs. As time permits, we’ll also visit at least one other well-known mandolin shop. This video will be hosted by Taku Hijikata (providing English translations), a member of both CMSA and the Milwaukee Mandolin Orchestra, with assistance from staff at the shops.

​Dave Cohen, luthier and past CMSA board member, is presenting What’s in Your Instrument? Woods, Finishes, and More.

Jeff Brumley (Seattle Mandolin Orchestra): Keeping Your Orchestra Thriving Through Video Presentations. In times when your orchestra may not be able to rehearse or perform in person, come learn the ins and outs of how to create virtual performances. Jeff will be sharing the process he developed this year to produce several successful projects—and is already using for En Masse—as well as software and tools recommendations.

Each of the videos will be showcased as suggested viewing during specific time slots and will be available for you to watch OnDemand.  Viewers wil have opportunities for viewers to ask questions about the videos during live hangout sessions.

Just a reminder: Workshop recordings and OnDemand videos can be watched at any time (and repeatedly) during the convention and at least through year-end.


Open Mic

Although our convention is very different this year, we want to capture the energy and enthusiasm that characterize this popular event. There will be two types of open mic events this year: The Saturday Night Open Mic Concert, and the OnDemand Performances. Both events will consist of pre-recorded performance videos submitted by our members. All submitted videos will appear in the OnDemand media, which members who register for the convention may view at their leisure. A selection of submitted videos will appear in the Saturday Open Mic Concert, selected based on adequate sound and lighting quality, variety of performances, and time limitations for the concert.

Submission Deadlines

  • People interested in submitting open mic videos must express their intention of doing so no later than Sunday, October 18, 2020. Final videos must be submitted no later than Thursday, October 29.
  • Please do not wait until the last minute to submit your video! 
  • Let us know if you would like to submit a video but need a bit more time.

Specifications for Videos

  • Videos for individuals/duets must not exceed 5 minutes; group videos must not exceed 10 minutes.
  • Video submissions don’t have to be new, and group or individual videos are welcome.
  • You may submit more than one video.
  • Submitted videos must be in final form, not requiring editing or enhancement.
  • View Tools for Recording a Successful Open Mic Performance.
2015 Convention


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.


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.


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.