CMSA 2024 Convention in Rochester, New York Logo

October 30-November 2, 2024 in Rochester, New York
Pre-Convention Workshops October 29-30
Held at the Hyatt Regency Rochester, New York


About the Convention

The Classical Mandolin Society of America and your host, the Rochester Mandolin Orchestra, invite you to attend the 38th Annual CMSA Convention, in Rochester, New York, Wednesday, October 30th through Saturday, November 2nd at the Hyatt Regency Rochester.

Optional pre-convention workshops start 7pm, Tuesday, October 29th.

Reserve your convention-discounted room at the Hyatt Regency using this booking link.

Punctuating Events:

  • Tuesday 7:00-9:00pm: Optional pre-convention workshops begin, continuing Wednesday 9-11am.
  • Wednesday 1:30-2:45pm: First workshop sessions.
  • Wednesday 3:00-5:00pm: First en-masse orchestra rehearsal led by conductor Dr. Jim Bates.
  • Wednesday 8:00-9:45pm: Welcome party.
  • Saturday 8:00-10:30pm: Final evening and en-masse orchestra performances.
  • Saturday 10:30pm-???: After party, jamming, socializing….

Thursday through Saturday evenings feature concerts by our guest performers and host orchestra.  There will be nightly opportunities to jam and sight read with new and old friends at the convention.  Open-mic sessions embellish Thursday and Saturday lunch times. Our annual gala banquet is Friday at noon.  The rest of your daytime is scheduled with workshops on classical and non-classical topics, as well as sectional and en-masse rehearsals.

A limited number of day passes each day are available for purchase at the registration desk.  With a day pass, you have access to all the day’s scheduled activities, except the Gala Banquet and participation and sheet music for the En Masse orchestra.  (Come and watch the rehearsal!)  Your day-pass purchase includes a 50% discount towards 2025 membership.


The 2024 CMSA Convention will be held at the Hyatt Regency in Rochester, New York.  125 East Main Street, Rochester, NY 14604.  Phone: (585) 794-4810

For the nights of Tuesday, October 29 through Saturday, November 2, CMSA has negotiated a discounted Queen/King Standard sleeping room rate of $139.00 USD (before taxes) for Single or Double occupancy. To receive this discounted rate when making online reservations, use this link.

COMING EARLY or STAYING LATER? The CMSA-discounted rate is also valid 3 days before and 3 days after the convention.


Several major airlines, including American, Delta, Southwest, and United, service the Frederick Douglass Greater Rochester International Airport (ROC), a 12-minute drive from they Hyatt Follow this link for transport options to the hotel.  App-based services will charge about $30 for a one-way trip.

The Rochester Louise M. Slaughter Amtrak train station (ROC) is a 5-minute taxi ride or 15-minute walk from the Hyatt Regency.  Amtrak has several daily stops in Rochester.

Parking at the Hyatt Regency is discounted to $8/day for attendees.



Guest Artists

Carlo Aonzo

Guest Performer

Carlo Aonzo, worldwide-known Italian mandolin performer, teacher at the Conservatory of music “Niccolò Piccinni” in Bari, was born and grew up in Savona where he started playing under his father’s guidance in the “Circolo Mandolinistico G. Verdi”.   

Graduating with honors from the conservatory in Padua in 1993, he has played for several prestigious institutions like the Philharmonic Orchestra of La Scala in Milan, The Maggio Musicale Fiorentino, the Nashville Chamber Orchestra, the McGill Chamber Orchestra in Montreal, the Philharmonia of San Petersburg, the Minsk Chamber Soloist, Schleswig-Holstein Musik Festival.   

Among his several awards are the first prize at the Concorso Internazionale “Pitzianti” in Venice in 1993, including the “Vivaldi” special mention, and first prize at the Walnut Valley National Mandolin Contest in Winfield Kansas in 1997.

He teaches seminars and workshops worldwide. Since 2000, he has been leading the annual Manhattan Mandolin Workshop in New York (since 2017 in Milwaukee). In 2006 he founded the International Italian Mandolin Accademia that he directs and constantly expands with new activities and camps. Since 2019, he is also artistic director of “Cremona Mandolini in Mostra” at Cremona Musica Exhibitions & Festival.  

With his “Orchestra a Pizzico Ligure” he performed in Vatican city for the Pope Johannes Paul II in 2001. He later formed the plucked string instrument International Accademia’s Orchestra with which he toured USA for the releasing of the album “Mandolin Images” in 2011.  

His recordings reflect his interests and skills relating to all different aspects of the mandolin repertoire: from the Paganini’s original works for mandolin, “Integrale per Amandorlino e Chitarra Francese”, to the Italian strings virtuosos of the turn of the century “Serenata” with Beppe Gambetta and “Traversata” with the American Mandolin guru David Grisman.   In 2016 with the Carlo Aonzo Trio he released the album “A Mandolin Journey” on the international mandolin repertoire. With the baroque Ensemble “Il Falcone”, he recorded the complete Vivaldi’s 4 Seasons concertos for the first time ever performed on the mandolin.   

As a researcher, he has been working on the history of his instrument and collaborated with the New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians and is a primary consultant driving new mandolin design for the Mandolino Perfetto. In 2020 he created and produced the series “L’Italia dei 1000 Mandolini” (the 1000 mandolins of Italy), short documentaries on the mandolin and its fascinating world.

In 2021 with the Sicilian Symphony Orchestra he opened the 63rd Sacred Music Week of Monreale in Palermo, performing as soloist conducted by Maestro Federico Maria Sardelli. In February 2023 he was the protagonist of the musical event “Il Mandolino Virtuoso” at the Teatro Massimo V. Bellini of Catania. Among his latest projects, the outstanding collaboration with the legendary Italian pianist Bruno Canino.

At the 2024 convention, Carlo will lead the Mandolin 1 section, perform at concerts, and present workshops. Carlo’s deep interest in outreach activities focused on his instrument is witnessed by his countless collaborations with mandolin orchestras around the world. For further information about Carlo, visit

At the 2024 convention, René will lead the Guitar section, perform at concerts, and present workshops. For more information, visit

René Izquierdo

Guest Performer

Cuban-born René Izquierdo is a unique artist and passionate educator whose career has been dedicated to inspiring individuals and connecting communities. Whether passionately performing on stage, devotedly mentoring his students, fundraising, or leading community outreach, René’s multi-faceted approach endeavors to continue creating experiences that enrich people’s lives and add beauty to our world.

Through his “unforgettable versatility, sensitivity and sublime musicianship” (Classical Guitar Magazine), René has firmly established himself as one of the world’s classical guitar virtuosos. He is celebrated for his ability to weave an unparalleled technical command of his instrument with his gift of storytelling, accomplishing an intimate musical experience with his audience.

With over seventy engagements per year, whether as a solo performer, chamber musician, or as a guest soloist with orchestras, he has performed to critical acclaim touring extensively throughout the Americas, Europe, and Asia. He is frequently invited by renowned festivals and institutions, having played at stages such as Carnegie Hall in New York, Manaus Opera House in Brazil, and National Recital Hall in Taiwan.

Self-described as a lifelong learner and explorer, his recording projects reflect his wide-ranging interests. Through his discography, René seeks to expand the guitar repertoire frequently performing new arrangements, lesser-known music of the 20th century as well as world premieres of concertos and new compositions.  He is the Artistic Director of the Bonne Amie Musical Circle, which performs as the Milwaukee Mandolin Orchestra, the oldest fretted-instrument music organization in the United States.

As an educator, René is passionate about engaging the mind and the heart. He is the area head and professor of classical guitar at the Peck School of the Arts at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. Through his teachings all around the world, he shares his belief that the greatest musicians not only have the technical mastery to communicate effectively but also are deeply curious, and equally adept at analytical and emotional modes of thought.

Charlotte Kaiser

Guest Performer

Born in 1996, discovered the mandolin when she was five years old and made music the center of her life. In 2023 she completed her artistic master’s degree with Juan Carlos Muñoz at the University of Music Saar (Germany).

In addition to her solo activities, the young mandolinist appears in varied chamber music ensembles and orchestras performing internationally. As a successful participant in national and international competitions, scholarship holder of various funding programs and twice concertmaster of the European Mandolin and Guitar Youth Orchestra (EGMYO) she takes part in various concerts and productions with mandolin and mandola.

In 2019 she founded the “Bundesjugendzupforchester” (German Guitar and Mandolin Youth Orchestra) together with Clara Weise and Laura Engelmann. She has been awarded several scholarships – for example Charlotte received a scholarship endowed by the Yehudi Menuhin Live Music Now Organization. During the Schleswig-Holstein Music Festivals 2017 and 2018 she played several concerts in the mandolin orchestra, a selected ensemble and as a soloist as part of the concert series “Meisterstudent – Meister” with Avi Avital. As a mandolinist, she has been engaged several times for productions by the Saarländisches Staatstheater and the Theater Koblenz. Charlotte was awarded the second prize of the 2018 Yasuo Kuwahara Competition for Solo Mandolin within the framework of the International Music Competitions of Schweinfurt (Germany). With her NOROC Quartett (Charlotte Kaiser, mandolin / Jolina Beuren, mandolin / Maja Schütze, octave mandolin / Philipp Lang, guitar) she was a finalist of the Deutscher Musikwettbewerb (German Music Competition) 2022.

Charlotte owes significant musical impulses to master courses with Avi Avital, Carlo Aonzo, Dietmar Wiesner and Vincent Beer-Demander with whom she studied at the Conservatoire Royal de Liège (Belgium). Since 2023 she has been part of the TONALi Academy in Hamburg.

(Photo courtesy of Lilli Glade)

At the 2024 convention, Charlotte will lead the Mandolin 2 sectional, perform at concerts, and present workshops. For more information, visit

Jim Bates

At the 2024 convention, Jim will conduct the En Masse Orchestra.

Jim Bates

En Masse Orchestra Conductor

Dr. Jim Bates is Director of Orchestral Activities at Otterbein University and Director of the Capital University Symphony Orchestra. Since 2006 he has served as an assistant conductor for the Columbus Symphony Youth Orchestras and the Westerville Symphony. As a conductor and teacher, Dr. Bates is able to draw on considerable experience as an educator, performer and historian.

For eighteen years Dr. Bates was a conductor for the Louisville (KY) Youth Orchestras and was music director of that organization from 1996 – 2001. From 1988-2001 he was music director of the Louisville Mandolin Orchestra. In 1999 he joined the conducting staff of Interlochen Center for the Arts and continues to direct the Junior Orchestra program and Junior String Institute there during the summer. He has served as a clinician or guest conductor in Ohio, Kentucky, Virginia, New York, North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, Minnesota, California, Missouri, Pennsylvania, Washington, Texas and Colorado. He has served as president of Kentucky ASTA and as string coordinator for the Kentucky Governor’s School for the Arts.

In addition to string education, Dr. Bates is very involved with the Classical Mandolin Society of America (CMSA) and period instrument performance. He serves on the National Board of Directors of CMSA and is actively involved with the Education Committee. He is the immediate past president of the Ohio String Teachers Association and is on the board of the Friends of Early Music in Columbus.  Currently, Dr. Bates is assistant conductor and principal bassist of the Westerville Symphony (OH), and is the Creative Director of The Early Interval, Columbus’ professional early music performance ensemble. 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. 

Jeff Brumley

Section Leader

Jeff Brumley is a near-native of Seattle, Washington, and a lifelong musician with varied interests and directions. He received a B.A. in Music from Seattle Pacific University, with areas of focus in music education, vocal performance, and music theory. After college, he was trained at the Bass Collective in New York City, studying bass guitar and general professional musicianship with the finest teachers and performers in the city, including John Patitucci.
As an in-demand multi-instrumentalist in the Seattle area, Jeff is primarily known as an electric bassist, with 30 years of stage and studio experience in varied ensembles and styles, including musical theatre, churches, original bands, singer-songwriters, and everything in between. Most recently, he was a founding member of Rise Up: The Hamilton Tribute, which performed concert arrangements of Broadway hits centered around the work of Lin-Manuel Miranda. He also regularly performs and records on guitar, piano, acoustic bass, mandolin & mandola, and tenor & plectrum banjo.
Jeff joined the Seattle Mandolin Orchestra in 2017, playing mandocello and bass, before moving into the role of Conductor and Artistic Director in the fall of 2022. He has been a proud member of the CMSA mandocello section since 2018 and is excited to be leading the group formally for the first time. He has served on the CMSA board since 2021, led the technical and audio production of the Virtual En Masse Orchestra experiences in 2020 and 2021, and currently serves as CMSA President.
Robert Margo

At the 2024 convention, Jeff will lead the Mandocello section.

Robert Margo

At the 2024 convention, Robert will lead the Octave Mandolin section.

Robert Margo

Section Leader

A two-time prize-winner in the CMSA’s national performance competition, Robert Margo is an accomplished performer on mandolin family instruments (liuto cantabile, mandola, and mandolin). An avid fan of new music for plucked strings, Margo has commissioned works from leading contemporary composers, including Clarice Assad, Jesse Jones, and Francine Trester, among others.

In addition to performing as a solo artist, Margo is a member of the Hampton Trio (with Beverly and Mark Davis) and the Providence Mandolin Orchestra (Mark Davis, director). Margo’s solo and ensemble arrangements have been performed by Chris Acquavella, the Baltimore Mandolin Quartet, the CMSA’s En Masse Orchestra, the Hampton Trio, the London Mandolin Ensemble, and the New American Mandolin Ensemble, among others.  In 2023 Margo was recently named “Mandolin Player of the Day (February 25, 2023)” by the German website in recognition of Germany’s “Year of the Mandolin 2023”.  

Margo frequently writes articles for CMSA’s quarterly publication, The Mandolin Journal, and serves as the organization’s Vice-President.  At the 2023 convention in Kansas City, Margo was named the CMSA’s latest non-Presidential Fellow for his contributions to classical mandolin.

Kristin Stiteler

Section Leader

Kristin Stiteler is a native of Ohio and began playing the violin in 3rd  grade.  She has taught both band and orchestra classes at all grade levels for over twenty-seven years in both Ohio and North Carolina.  She received her Bachelor’s Degree in Music Education from The Ohio State University and was a National Board Certified Teacher from 2010 – 2020.

Kristin is an accomplished musician on several instruments and has performed regularly with multiple ensembles.  She has performed with several symphony orchestras in Ohio, North Carolina, and South Carolina since 1997 and she is currently in her 21st year of playing viola with the Fayetteville (NC) Symphony Orchestra where she held the position of principal violist for several years.

Kristin started her mandolin journey in 2006 and seeks out opportunities to perform every chance she gets. On mandolin, she has performed recitals with the FayAllegro Chamber Music Society and the Fayetteville Symphony Orchestra. On mandola, she has been invited to perform alongside the Milwaukee Mandolin Orchestra on their recent performance tours in Japan, Italy, and Austria.

Kristin was director of the Cumberland County Youth Orchestra from 2002-2016, and is currently the Director of the Fayetteville Symphony Youth Orchestra. She has held several educational leadership roles at both the Region and County levels, led workshops, and has been invited to serve as a guest clinician in nearby NC districts. Kristin is an active member of NAfME, NCMEA, ASTA, and CMSA.

Joel Hobbs

At the 2024 convention, Kristen will lead the Alto Mandola section.


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 have currently enrolled to our scholarship capacity, but keep the 2025 convention in mind for support for students and first-time attendees.


If you’d like to volunteer at the convention, send email to [email protected] .

Vendor Table Rental

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


We offer a choice of ad placement: within the convention mobile app and on the evening program.  To discuss other options, contact the host committee.

CMSA distributes a mobile and on-line application that convention participants use to guide their schedule and download their music and study material.  Your ad will be seen by each attendee using the app to plan their convention day.  It’s become a great tradition for mandolin orchestras to greet convention attendees with these ads, for example.

The Thursday, Friday, and Saturday evening entertainment is supported with a printed and on-line/PDF program seen by concert attendees and archived for future reference.  CMSA offers a limited number of ads placed within the evening program.

To place convention advertisement, please select the placement when completing the online registration form.  If you have already registered, simply click through the alert reminding you of your registration and select your ad placement.

Note that you do not have to attend the convention to purchase an ad.

2015 Convention

Open Mic

We all look forward to the popular lunch-time open mic sessions where single or groups of performers can show off the latest pieces they have been learning. We will have Open Mic sessions on Thursday (for solos and duets) and on Saturday (for ensembles).

Be sure to register for the convention before you request an Open Mic slot. Time limits are approximately 5 minutes for solos or duets (Thursday) and 10 minutes for ensembles (Saturday).

At least one person must be registered for the convention to perform at Open Mic. Please email [email protected] if you have questions about Open Mic requirements.


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.


Order your tee-shirts when you register or later as an add-on, just click through the notice that you’ve already registered.  Your cool new threads will be waiting for you at the convention.

2024 Convention Tee Shirts

Dark grey heather tee shirts with the Rochester convention graphic are available at $20 each for men’s and women’s styles in sizes S through 4XL. Please check the vendor website linked below for sizing information.

Men’s/unisex crew neck: PC450 Fan Favorite Tee with Rochester convention graphic on the front; 4.5 oz ring spun cotton/poly.


Women’s/fashion-fit V-neck: LPC450V Ladies Fan Favorite V-neck Tee with Rochester convention graphic on the back; 4.5 oz ring spun cotton/poly.

En Masse Orchestra

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 music for the En Masse orchestra will ready for you in early August.  Stay tuned for the program announcement containing world and North American premieres.

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

Promotional Video

Convention Pricing

The 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, t-shirts, and membership renewal are additional.

You must be a member of CMSA to register for the convention.  Become a CMSA member or renew your membership here.