Honors & Awards

CMSA’s honorary programs

Honorary Board of Directors

Acknowledges individuals outside of North America who have made substantial contributions to the classical mandolin

CMSA Fellows

Honors living individuals who have made substantial contributions to classical mandolin in North America

CMSA Hall of Fame

Honors deceased individuals for their contributions to classical mandolin, in accordance with CMSA’s mission

2021 Honors and Awards Presentation

CMSA Honorary Board of Directors

The Honorary Board of Directors (HBOD) program acknowledges individuals outside of North America who have made substantial contributions to the classical mandolin and who potentially can serve as liaisons for CMSA in their home countries or regions.

Members of the Honorary Board of Directors

  • Carlo Aonzo (Italy)
  • Keith Harris (Germany)
  • Caterina Lichtenberg (Germany)
  • Julien Martineau (France)
  • Werner Ruecker (Australia)
  • Ricardo Sandoval (Chile, Venezuela)
  • Ken Tanioka (Japan)
  • Alex Timmerman (The Netherlands)
  • Michael Troester (Germany)
  • Gertrud Weyhofen (Germany)

2021 Inductee

Ricardo SandovalRicardo Sandoval, one of the world’s leading classical mandolinists, was born in Chile. He received his musical training in Venezuela (IUDEM, the national conservatory in Caracas), subsequently moving to Europe to continue his studies at the Hochschule für Musik Köln. He currently is based in Metz, France. Sandoval has had enormous success worldwide with his many compositions, which incorporate Latin American rhythms, harmonies, and melodies seamlessly and deftly, appealing to the audience and player alike. He is also a spectacular performer of iconic Latin American works, such as Radames Gnattali’s “Suite Retratos” for solo mandolin and orchestra (originally written for Jabob de Bandolim) while excelling at traditional mandolin repertoire such as Calace or Vivaldi. He plays in many different ensembles, such as the 2+2 Quartet, the Ricardo Sandoval Trio and Quartet, and he is the director of the French mandolin orchestra, AICOPI. He is a passionate advocate of Venezuelan music, and frequently performs on traditional Venezuelan plucked instruments. His compositions are published by AICOPI, Les Productions d’Oz, and Trekel.

2020 Inductee

Julien Martineau is one of leading classical mandolinists in the world today, with numerous recitals and engagements with major orchestras in Europe and elsewhere, and an extensive discography on Naïve, a leading classical music label. Julien has been active in new technical developments, including mandolin strings (Savarez) and construction, and he is a highly successful teacher.

France has a large classical mandolin community and a long tradition of classical mandolin. Julien’s is the first appointment of a French mandolinist to the Honorary Board in 25 years.

CMSA Fellows

The Fellows program honors living individuals who have made substantial contributions to classical mandolin in North America since the founding of CMSA. CMSA Fellows are elected to a non-renewable five year term.

CMSA Fellows

  • Jim Bates
  • Lou Chouinard
  • Mark Davis
  • John Goodin
  • Marilynn Mair
  • Laura Norris
  • Mike Schroeder

2021 Inductee

The CMSA Board of Directors has voted unanimously to elect Evan J. Marshall as the latest CMSA non-Presidential Fellow. Evan’s term will run from January 2022-December 2026.

Evan J MarshallA true legend of the mandolin world, Evan J. Marshall needs no introduction to the CMSA audience. Evan began on classical violin at age 7 and took up the mandolin at age 14.  He is widely regarded as the world’s premier performer of “duo-style” solo mandolin playing. The art of duo-style was invented around the turn of the twentieth century during the mandolin’s Golden Age. Evan rediscovered and further developed this style, and it is primarily for this contribution that CMSA is recognizing him as one of its non-Presidential Fellows.

Evan has performed countless solo concerts throughout his career, and he has appeared as a guest performer with numerous symphonies, including the Pasadena Pops Orchestra, the Phoenix Symphony, and the Houston Symphony. He has been a featured guest artist and workshop performer at many festivals and conferences, including an incredible twelve appearances alone at the CMSA’s annual convention, since his first in 1992. His discography is extensive, with five recordings since 2016. The Fellows award also recognizes his many and varied contributions to the development of the CMSA, including his articles in the Mandolin Journal.

2020 Inductees

In 2020, the board appointed three new Fellows: Mark Davis, Marilynn Mair, and Laura Norris. 

Mark Davis is a central figure in the international revival of classical mandolin since the 1970s.   The CMSA honors Mark for his contributions as a performer and recording artist, music director and conductor, advocate for new music, and educator.

Originally a folk guitarist, Mark began studying classical guitar and mandolin in Providence, RI with Hibbard Perry in the early 1970s. In the late 1970s Davis and Marilynn Mair, another Perry student, formed the Mair-Davis Duo which toured world-wide for the next two decades to great acclaim and made several landmark recordings.  Mark’s performing career also includes numerous concert appearances and recordings as a solo artist and ensemble musician, including in duo with Beverly Davis.

Mark has made significant and extensive contributions as a music director and conductor, especially his stewardship of the Providence Mandolin Orchestra which he has directed since the mid-1980s. He is also the founder and music director of the New American Mandolin Ensemble and The Hampton Trio.  He has been a steadfast advocate of new music for plucked strings, including seminal modern works written for the Mair-Davis Duo, and for the Providence Mandolin Orchestra and other ensembles.

Mark Davis has had a life-long commitment to education.  This includes the American Mandolin and Guitar Summer School (AMGuSS), which he co-founded and co-directed with Marilynn Mair from 1986 to 2000; training of individual students; and appearances at the CMSA’s conventions as a workshop presenter, section leader, and En Masse conductor.

In recognition of these and other contributions, the CMSA Board appoints Mark Davis as a non-Presidential Fellow for a five-year term, effective January 2021.  Congratulations, Mark!

Marilynn Mair is a central figure in the international revival of classical mandolin since the 1970s.  The CMSA honors Marilynn for her contributions as a performer, recording artist, new music advocate, educator, and musicologist.

A former student of Hibbard Perry’s, Marilynn formed the Mair-Davis Duo with Mark Davis in the late 1970s.  Over the next two decades the Duo toured the world to great acclaim and made several iconic recordings.  In addition to the Duo, Marilynn has had an important and highly visible solo and ensemble career concentrating primarily on the classical and contemporary chamber repertoire, as well as choro music, where she has been a pioneer in North America. A prolific recording artist, Marilynn is the founder and music director of Enigmatica, an important chamber ensemble.  The CMSA recognizes Marilynn’s substantial and important advocacy for new music, in her work with Mair-Davis, on her own, and with Enigmatica.

Marilynn is also one of the most influential and visible mandolin educators in the United States over the past several decades.  As previously noted, she is a co-founder of AMGuSS, which she has directed since the early 2000s.  She is the author of The Complete Mandolinist, Volumes 1 & 2, The 100 – Techniques & Exercises for Mandolinists, and co-author (with Paulo Sá) of Brazilian Choro: A Method for Mandolin, all published by Mel Bay, as well as numerous articles on technique and interpretation for various mandolin magazines.  Her work as an educator include appearances as a workshop presenter and section leader at the CMSA’s conventions. As a musicologist, she has made important contributions as reflected in her method books and in numerous articles on wide-ranging topics.

In recognition of these and other contributions, the CMSA Board appoints Marilynn Mair as a non-Presidential Fellow for a five-year term, effective January 2021.  Congratulations, Marilynn!

The CMSA honors Laura Norris, a long-standing member, primarily for her work with the “Mando for Kids” program. Music instruction is largely intergenerational.  In Europe and Japan there are well-established networks by which children and young adults learn mandolin, some of whom retain their interest later in life.  When the CMSA was founded and for many years after, there was nothing equivalent in North America.

The present “Mando for Kids” program has its origins as the youth wing (established by Laura and others) of the Baltimore Mandolin Orchestra.  Subsequently, Laura developed her program as a separate entity, which includes curriculum, guest artist and student performances, international exchanges, and liaising with related musical organizations.  While there is still a long way to go, substantial progress has been made largely due to Laura’s advocacy.   By making Laura a Fellow, the CMSA hopes to spur further development and growth of youth education programs.  In addition to “Mando for Kids,” Laura has made important and last contributions in her private teaching; as a workshop presenter at CMSA conventions; and as a performer with the Baltimore Mandolin Orchestra and the Baltimore Mandolin Quartet. In recognition of these and other contributions, the CMSA Board appoints Laura Norris as a non-Presidential Fellow for a five-year term, effective January 2021.  Congratulations, Laura!

CMSA Hall of Fame

The Hall of Fame honors deceased individuals for their contributions to classical mandolin, in accordance with CMSA’s mission. 

Members of the Hall of Fame

  • Giuseppe Anedda
  • Butch Baldassari
  • Walter Kaye Bauer
  • Siegfried Behrend 
  • Ray Bell
  • Hermann von Bernewitz
  • Rudy Cipolla 
  • Hugo D’Alton
  • Tony Fazzio
  • Hisao Itoh
  • Kurt Jensen
  • Eli Kasarik
  • Norman Levine
  • Antonina Nigrelli
  • Hibbard Perry
  • Antoine St. Clivier
  • Alison Stephens

2021 Inductee

The board inducted Ray Bell to the CMSA Hall of Fame.

Ray BellRay Bell passed away on November 21, 2008, age 67, after a long illness. Primarily a professional guitarist but also highly accomplished on mandolin, and prolific and
talented at arranging, Ray Bell was a fixture in the CMSA in the 1990s until his untimely death. Born in 1941, Ray grew up in Sherwood, Arkansas. As a teenager he traveled by train to St Louis to study guitar with Mel Bay (yes, the Mel Bay). He became a touring musician shortly after graduating from high school, but quit the road when his daughter, Robin, was born. Returning to Little Rock, Arkansas, he became a highly successful and sought-after teacher, and performed professionally at local clubs for many years.

At some point later in life Ray studied mandolin and began teaching the instrument (he wrote Mandolin Scales and Studies, published by Mel Bay in 1995 and he also contributed to Master Anthology of Mandolin Solos, Vol. 1, also published by Mel Bay; both are still in print). He became fascinated by the mandolin orchestra and, having discovered CMSA, started attending our conventions, where he quickly was in great demand as a performer and workshop presenter. Ray wrote numerous articles for the CMSA Mandolin Journal, and he played an important role in integrating the classical guitar into CMSA’s musical culture. He was a kind and generous man, always willing to sit in and try new pieces (among his many musical skills, Ray was an expert sight reader). Further information about Ray’s life and career can be found in the memorial by Bruce Graybill in the February 2009 issue of the Mandolin Journal.

2020 Inductees

The board recommended one correction to the inaugural class, Ely Karasik, and made inducted two additional members to the CMSA Hall of Fame, Butch Baldassari and Alison Stephens.

Alison Stephens (1970-2010) died of cancer on October 10, 2010, aged 40.  She was the leading British classical mandolinist of her generation.

Alison studied the mandolin with Hugo D’Alton, the leading British classical mandolinist of his generation and a former member of the CMSA’s Honorary Board of Directors.   She continued her training at Trinity College of Music and was appointed instructor of mandolin upon graduation.  Several of Alison’s students have gone on to important professional careers, such as Chris Acquavella.

Alison performed extensively throughout the world, and was a prolific recording artist, with major albums on Chandos, Naxos, and other labels.   Until her death Alison served as the mandolin editor of Astute Music, with whom she published several important didactic and concert works.

Alison was an enthusiastic supporter of the CMSA throughout her career.  She appeared at the 1991 convention in West Palm Beach FL.  Alison wrote many articles for the CMSA’s Mandolin Journal and Norman Levine’s Mandolin Quarterly and was interviewed in both publications.

In recognition of her professional accomplishments and many contributions to the CMSA, the Board inducts Alison Stephens into the Hall of Fame.

Butch Baldassari (1952-2009) died of cancer on January 10, 2009, age 56. At the time of his death, Butch was an adjunct professor of mandolin at the Blair School of Music, Vanderbilt University, in Nashville, Tennessee.

Butch came to the classical mandolin from the popular side of the instrument.  He moved to Nashville in 1989 and quickly became a mainstay of Music City’s bluegrass scene.  Butch played a central role in the growth and development of CMSA in the 1990s and early 2000s. He attended and performed at numerous CMSA conventions, most notably the Nashville convention in 1993, which he hosted.

In the early 1990s Butch founded the Nashville Mandolin Ensemble after learning about mandolin orchestras popular in America at the turn of the twentieth century. Baldassari issued dozens of albums through his own company, SoundArt Recordings, that frequently explored the connections between different musical genres.

In recognition of his professional accomplishments and many contributions to the CMSA, the Board inducts Butch Baldassari into the Hall of Fame.

Ely Karasik (1924-2015) died on September 30, 2015, age 91. As a child growing up in the Bronx, Ely studied mandolin with Thomas Sokoloff.  After military service, Ely moved with his wife, Lenore, to Colorado. Ely performed and taught mandolin widely in the Denver area, especially after his retirement from public school teaching in the late 1970s. He was a prolific arranger and composer for mandolin and guitar, and for mandolin orchestra. Ely was a founding member of the Denver Mandolin Orchestra, and a vital presence in the CMSA.