Bios of Note

Antonina Nigrelli

Antonina Nigrelli earned a B.S. in Music Ed. and an M.A. in Music Performance from Hunter and Queens Colleges. She has been on the teaching staffs of Queens, Dowling and St. Joseph's Colleges and for six years was head of the Music Dept. in the William Tresper Clarke Jr.- Sr. High School in East Meadow, NY and the director of orchestras for twenty-five years at Elwood Junior and Senior High Schools, Elwood NY. A frequent guest conductor and clinician at citywide, countywide and statewide festivals, including appearances in many states and Russia, Mrs. Nigrelli has been actively involved in professional organizations, youth orchestras and professional orchestras. Her orchestral experience includes Principal Viola and Principal Second Violin with several orchestras. She was first violinist and member of the Board of Directors of the Long Island Symphony and also appeared as its guest conductor. During the past twenty five years she has been the conductor and music director of the West Islip Symphony on Long Island, NY and has been, and continues to be, the conductor of the Long Island Mandolin and Guitar Orchestra for the past 27 years. She has been an intrinsic part of the Long Island String Festival Association since its inception and has held several offices, including being its president for six years. Mrs. Nigrelli's interests include being on the boards of Nassau County and Suffolk County Music Educators Associations, president for eight years, for six years treasurer and currently on the board of directors of the Classical Mandolin Society of America, Inc. was the concert-mistress of the New York Balalaika and Dorma Orchestra and has been on the Board of Directors of the Balalaika and Dorma Association of America for ten years. She appeared as guest conductor for all of these organizations. Currently she freelances with the Celebration String Quartet and with various orchestras in the New York area. During the winter months she has appeared as guest conductor of "I Musici" in Naples, Florida, plays violin and viola professionally with the Charlotte Symphony and was appointed as the assistant Conductor and Concertmaster of the Gulf Coast Symphony in Ft. Myers, Florida. She was also a member of the Gulf Coast Mandolin Ensemble (GCME) and was the conductor of the Sarasota Mandolin Orchestra. Currently she leads and plays with the Mandophonics of Southwest Florida.

Chris Acquavella

Christopher Acquavella is a classical mandolinist & educator from San Diego, California. He graduated First Class Honors from Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music & Dance in London, England. Chris studied under the instruction of Alison Stephens and in Master Class with Caterina Lichtenberg. Chris won the Wolfsan Foundation Music Award in 2004 and was awarded the TCM Trust Silver Medal for String Studies in 2006. Chris performs classical repertoire on baroque and modernmandolins, using period techniques. He has performed with some great musicians such as Avi Avital, Alison Stephens, David Grisman & Mike Marshall. Aside from chamber music, he concertizes as a soloist & orchestral musician with various orchestras throughout the world including the Ger Mandolin Orchestra, Bach Collegium San Diego (USA) and the San Diego Symphony (USA). Chris is the artistic director of the New Expression Mandolin Orchestra, as well as the San Diego Classical Mandolin Camp. He has performed & taught workshops at the CMSA Conventions and the David Grisman/Mike Marshall Mandolin Symposium. Aside from teaching and performing on the mandolin, Chris spends time composing new works for mandolin & mandolin ensembles. Several of his works are now published by Joachim-Trekel-Musikverlag, Hamburg.

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Dr. Jim Bates

We are very excited to announce that Dr. Jim Bates will return as Conductor of the En Masse Orchestra. Jim is a professor of music at Otterbein University in Ohio, is the assistant conductor and principal bassist in the Westerville Symphony, and is on the conducting staff of the Interlochen Center for the Arts. Jim always does an excellent job of making participation in the En Masse Orchestra a fun learning experience culminating in an outstanding concert performance.  Jim is also a first class music educator, and his CMSA workshops, packed with practical information, are not to be missed!

jim bates

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Dr. Stefanie Rauch

Dr. Stefanie Rauch, from Germany, will be one of our guest performers and workshop leaders!  

For over 15 years, Dr. Stefanie Rauch, has been performing as a soloist and with several ensembles around the world. She studied the mandolin under the instruction of Keith David Harris. Stefanie is a member of the world music ensemble Vinorosso, and the music director of the federation of plucked-string music of the German state of Hesse (BDZ Hessen e.V.). She is a regular guest at various international courses, teaching the mandolin and the mandola as well as music history.

Apart from being a classical mandolinist, Dr. Stefanie Rauch is a musicologist at the Musicological Seminar of the Universität Paderborn and the Hochschule für Musik Detmold, Germany. Between 2007 and 2011, Stefanie also held teaching positions at the Hochschule für Musik und Tanz Köln/Wuppertal, Universität Marburg and the Hochschule für Musik Würzburg.

James J. Kellaris

James J. Kellaris is Composer in Residence for this year’s Classical Mandolin Society of America (CMSA) conference. Two of his works for mandolin orchestra will be featured on the concert program: the Canadian premiere of Chrysopylae Reflections, which recently won an international competition sponsored by the San Francisco Mandolin Orchestra, and an arrangement of Erik Satie’s charming love song Je te Veux. Kellaris will also offer a workshop on compositional technique.

James has had a long association with plucked strings, dating back to early childhood, when he began playing his grandfather’s mandolin. He began formal musical studies at the age of 9, eventually attending university on a classical guitar scholarship. His mandolin performance credits include an Atlanta Opera Theatre production of Don Giovani and the Vivaldi Concerto for Two Mandolins with the DMO. He toured with the Nashville Chamber Orchestra as bouzouki soloist in performances of Nickitas Demos’ New World Sketches and performed in a mandolin-guitar-bass jazz trio in Liverpool, UK, with Paul McCartney’s bass player.

In 2011 James developed a focal dystonia in his left hand (“musician’s cramp”), which forced an early retirement as a performer. Lemons to lemonade, James began devoting more time to composing for the instruments he loves. 

James studied musical composition at the Georgia State University School of Music and privately thereafter. His catalog includes works for mandolin orchestra, string quartet, other chamber ensembles, solo and ensemble works for guitar, art song and choral pieces, and numerous arrangements for mandolin quartet and mandolin orchestra. His compositions for mandolin orchestra have recently been performed in San Francisco, Providence, RI, Kalamazoo, MI (the birthplace of his Loar era Gibson mandolin), Yellow Springs, OH, and Bolzano, Italy, where James recently attended the European premiere of Chrysopylae Reflections by the Accademia Internationale di Mandolino orchestra.

In professional life Dr. Kellaris teaches ethics at the University of Cincinnati, Lindner College of Business, and conducts research on the influences of music on consumers, including music and time perception, and the “earworm” (stuck tune) phenomenon. His earworm studies have been widely reported in the popular media. The word earworm, introduced into the American vocabulary by Kellaris’ research, made its way into the 2012 edition of Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary.

James currently resides in Wyoming, Ohio, with his spouse Janice, daughters Lydia and Christina, two dogs, and one terribly disinterested cat. After months of occupational therapy, James can occasionally be seen in the mandola section of his local orchestra, “playing every other note and marveling at [his] capacity to miss notes that [he himself] wrote.

John Goodin

John Goodin was raised in southern Indiana and began playing the guitar shortly after seeing the Beatles on the Ed Sullivan show in February of 1964.  Ten years later he discovered the mandolin.  He has played in many bands and ensembles performing music in a variety of styles and was a founding member of the Louisville Mandolin Orchestra in 1988.  Along with studying folk, jazz, bluegrass and pop music he has attended workshops offered by several of today’s finest classical mandolinists including, Keith Harris, Gertrude Weyhofen and Carlo Aonzo. He is a long time member of the Classical Mandolin Society of America and has made several presentations at CSMA conventions. In 2010 he was honored to be chosen as the CMSA Composer in Residence at the convention in Seattle.

As a composer Goodin has written several pieces for mandolin orchestra that have been recorded and performed by mandolin orchestras in Europe, Australia, Japan and the United States. He has published numerous books of his own music and maintains the Mandotopia website which offers free access to a large quantity of music for mandolin, including digital copies of collections from the Golden Era of mandolin and arrangements of music by Bach, Telemann, James Oswald and others. In 2011 Mel Bay Productions published his collection Telemann for Mandolin. Goodin also maintains the So Many Tunes blog which offers free pdf sheet music and home recordings of many of his original tunes

Goodin performs and records with the band Contratopia and with fiddler Erik Sessions. His latest CD of original music, recorded in August 2013, is titled Deer Tracks (for solo mandolin). In “real life” he is an Associate Professor on the faculty of Luther College in Decorah, Iowa where he has served as the Technical Services Librarian at Preus Library since 1994.leased a duo CD, Notes from the Farm.

Mark M. Davis

Mark Davis has played guitar and mandolin professionally since 1976. Mr. Davis began his first study of the classical guitar with Hibbard Perry of Providence, RI, and later became a protégé of the German guitarist/conductor Siegfried Behrend, studying at his annual summer classes in Bavaria and performing under his direction in the Deutsches Zupforchester.

In 1989 Mr. Davis assumed the role of Music Director/Conductor of the Providence Mandolin Orchestra, a group that dates back to the first decades of the 20th century. Under his direction the group has been recognized as one of the top plucked string ensembles in the US with a reputation for featuring new works. The PMO has performed in Spain, France, Germany and the Netherlands, and has performed over 75 original contemporary works, many of these written for the PMO.

Since 2001 Mark Davis has worked in a duo with Beverly Davis, developing a repertoire for both guitar duo and mandolin and guitar duo. They formed the international TRIO 868 to explore repertoire for two mandolins and guitar. They travel widely and have performed in Europe, Australia and the USA.

In 2011 Mr. Davis was guest conductor at the Federation of Australasian Mandolin Ensembles (FAME) annual mandolin festival in Perth, Australia. He conducted the premiere of Phil Moloso’s “Kindertoten II for 12 guitars and narrator” in Phoenix, AZ; conducted the revival of Steve Jobe’s medieval folk-rock opera “Joan of Arc”, has directed the Festival Orchestra at the Classical Mandolin Society of America’s annual conventions, and was guest conductor at the 2012 Carlo Aonzo Manhattan Workshop for mandolin.

Mark Davis feels that today is the true “Golden Age’ for plucked string instruments because of the impressive number of new pieces being written for these instruments, and formed the New American Mandolin Ensemble with the goal of presenting these original contemporary works for plucked strings in the USA and abroad.


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Mike Burdette

Mike Burdette has been performing Brazilian choro and gypsy jazz guitar for the past seven years with many of Portland’s best, including Tim Connell, Jason Okamoto, David Stassens, and Joseph Appel. His pursuit of excellence in these styles has led him to study with many of today’s leading players, including Mike Marshall and Choro Famoso, Dudu Maia, Douglas Lora, and Don Stiernberg. He also builds and repairs instruments for many of Portland’s finest players at Portland Fretworks, and pickers throughout the Northwest enjoy playing on frets he has installed. He lives in rural Newberg, Oregon, with his beautiful wife, Katherine, his chickens, and his honeybees.

Rio Con Brio

Rio Con Brio captivates audiences around the country with their intimate performance of the beautiful and esoteric Brazilian repertoire known as choro, the early 20th Century street music of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Influenced by equal parts Afro-Brazilian rhythms and the contemporary cafe music of Italy, France, Spain and Portugal, choro is both exotic and familiar, evoking in turn the carnival of Rio and the cafes of Paris.

Guitarist Mike Burdette and mandolinist Tim Connell exhibit finesse and passion in their playing, while displaying a sincere love of the choro repertoire and connection to their audience. An evening with Rio Con Brio is a delightful tour of European and New World music as experienced by the mandolin and guitar and as told by two soulful, intelligent, modern musicians – a beautiful intersection of Brazilian rhythm, classical technique and jazz improvisation.

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Program Notes by Tim Connell

I formed Rio Con Brio with Mike Burdette eight years ago as a way to explore my new (and ongoing) obsession with the fascinating music of Brazil "choro" (pronounced "show-rue").  I first heard the music of Jacob do Bandolim while I was a student at New England Conservatory - an intuitive classmate saw my mandolin case and handed me two cassette tapes full of Brazilian mandolin music - Jacob's iconic recordings with Época de Ouro from the 1950's and 1960's.  

I fell instantly in love with this music - a groovy folky style, but with all of the harmonies and melodic fun of the ragtime piano pieces I had played as a child.  Years later I finally met musicians who could play this stuff, and play it at an extremely high level: Brazilians Danilo Brito, Hamilton de Holanda, Dudu Maia, Almir Cortes, and Americans Eva Scow, Ted Falcon, Jesse Appleman, Mike Marshall.  I dove deeply into learning this music, and have only scratched the surface at this point - choro is a deep well of gorgeous, intelligent compositions, fascinating groove and rhythmic play, subtle, melody-based improvisation and a looseness based on communication between musicians.

In lieu of individual song information, what follows is information about Jacob do Bandolim, Pixinguinha and Ernesto Nazareth, three of the greatest composers and performers of choro, and the primary composers of our CMSA sets.

Jacob do Bandolim, born Jacob Pick Bittencourt (December 14, 1918 – August 13, 1969) transformed the Italian-influenced style of Brazilian mandolin masters such as Luperce Miranda into a quirky, lyrical and deeply personal style of expression which continues to influence younger generations of choro mandolinists.

A perfectionist and devoted archivist of choro music, Jacob and his group Época de Ouro sought the highest levels of quality.  He required commitment and impeccable dress from his musicians who, like himself, all held "day jobs." Jacob worked as a pharmacist, insurance salesman, street vendor, and finally notary public, to support himself while also working full time as a musician.

In addition to his virtuoso playing, he is famous for his many choro compositions, which range from the lyrical melodies of "Noites Cariocas", "Receita de Samba" and "Vibraçoes" to the aggressively jazzy "Assanhado", which is reminiscent of bebop. He also researched and attempted to preserve the older choro tradition, as well as that of other Brazilian music styles.

Pixinguinha, born Alfredo da Rocha Viana, Jr. (April 23, 1897 – February 7, 1973) was a composer, arranger, flautist and saxophonist born in Rio de Janeiro. Pixinguinha is considered one of the greatest Brazilian composers of popular music, particularly within the genre of music known as choro. 

By integrating the music of the older choro composers of the 19th century with contemporary jazz-like harmonies, Afro-Brazilian rhythms, and sophisticated arrangements, he introduced choro to a new audience and helped to popularize it as a uniquely Brazilian genre. He was also one of the first Brazilian musicians and composers to take advantage of the new professional opportunities offered to musicians by the new technologies of radio broadcasting and studio recording. 

Pixinguinha composed dozens of choros, including some of the most well-known works in the genre such as "Carinhoso", "Cochichando", "Lamentos" and "Um a Zero".

Ernesto Júlio de Nazareth (March 20, 1863 – February 5, 1934) was a Brazilian composer and pianist, especially noted for his creative Maxixe and Choro compositions. Influenced by African rhythms and many musical styles like the Lundu and the Choro, he never fully accepted this influence, refusing to give popular names to his compositions.

 A musician of classical training, he classified his music as "Brazilian tangos", since the Argentine tango and polka dances were considered fashionable at the time. His piano repertoire is now part of the teaching programs of both classical and popular styles, as Nazareth once served at the boundary between these two worlds.

Nazareth's piano compositions have been adapted by choro string bands and many remain standards of the genre, including "Brejeiro", "Odeon" and "Floraux".

Robert Margo

Robert Margo is an accomplished performer on classical guitar, classical mandolin, and renaissance lute. He studied classical guitar with William Newman in Philadelphia and with John Johns in Nashville, and in master classes with Sergio Assad and Manuel Barrueco. He has given solo and duo performances on classical guitar in Nashville and in Boston, and also regularly accompanies singers. On renaissance lute Margo studied with Catherine Liddell in Boston, and taken lessons with Paul O’Dette, Ronn McFarlane, and Nigel North. 

An avid fan of new music for plucked strings, Margo has commissioned pieces from Clarice Assad, John Goodin, Francine Trester, and Frank Wallace. Twice a prize-winner at the national performance competition of the Classical Mandolin Society of America (CMSA), Margo frequently writes articles on mandolin topics for the CMSA’s quarterly journal. Margo's arrangements for solo mandolin and for mandolin ensemble have been performed by Chris Acquavella, the Baltimore Mandolin Quartet, the CMSA En Masse Orchestra, the Dayton Mandolin Orchestra, the New Expressions Mandolin Orchestra, and the Providence Mandolin Orchestra. In the Boston area Margo performs on octave mandolin with the Providence Mandolin Orchestra and has also played with the Boston Guitar Orchestra.

Tim Connell

Tim Connell, a graduate of the prestigious New England Conservatory of Music and a virtuoso multi-instrumentalist with over twenty years professional performing experience, Tim Connell is a rising star in the acoustic music scene, forging a sophisticated and worldly voice for the mandolin in his work with Mike Marshall, Avi Avital and Radim Zenkl in the international mandolin supergroup The Ger Mandolin Orchestra; his recordings and tours with Brazilian choro group Rio Con Brio; "Mando Planet", his world music mandolin duo with Jack Dwyer; and his genre-bending, improvisatory fireworks with acoustic guitar great Eric Skye.

In the last two years, Tim's work with the mandolin has found him trading licks onstage with his heroes Mike Marshall and David Grisman, concertizing in Germany with the German-Dutch mandolin ensemble Mando Nuevo, performing pre-war Yiddish music to standing-room-only audiences in synagogues in Poland, and appearing as guest artist with the Oregon Mandolin Orchestra.

Tim is a veteran teacher and workshop presenter, having taught on faculty alongside of David Grisman, Mike Marshall and Mike Compton at the annual Mandolin Symposium in Santa Cruz, CA; with Brian Oberlin, Don Stiernberg and Radim Zenkl at the River of the West Mandolin Camp; at the annual Wintergrass Bluegrass Festival, and teaching mandolin as an Adjunct Professor of Music at Lewis and Clark College in Portland, OR.

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Will Patton

Will Patton has been playing music since the age of 6, starting on piano and taking up guitar at age 12. Mandolin and bass soon followed, and he's been leading bands since he was thirteen. He studied at Middlebury College in Vermont and discovered a deep connection with the rural landscape there. "Vermont called to me immediately as the place I wanted to call home... I love to travel, and I love returning to these Green Mountains."

His travels have taken him to Rio, Paris and the Caribbean as well as all over the U.S. and Canada, playing rock and roll, folk, bluegrass, Brazilian music, and jazz. His bands have opened for Van Morrison, Ray Charles, Bonnie Raitt, Earl Scruggs, Maynard Ferguson, John McLaughlin and Toots Thielemans. He has shared the stage with Roy Eldridge and Mose Allison and is featured on many recordings as a bassist and mandolinist. During the last ten years he has been visiting and playing in Paris, and his collaborations with legendary gypsy guitarist Ninine Garcia as documented on his recordings have received critical acclaim both in the U.S. and abroad.

He has also had a lifelong passion for Brazilian music. " The rhythms of the samba and the bossa nova and the sound of the Portuguese language are so seductive and sensual to my ears. And the spirit of the Brazilian soul, as expressed in the music, is very moving." He has been exploring the music known as choro with his band Estrela do Norte, and the group plays many of his original compositions in this genre. The music features eloquent Portuguese melodies set against a harmonic backdrop of American jazz and propelled by the powerful rhythms of Brazil.

His recordings, made with his long time working ensemble as well as guest artists such as Ninine, have all been very well reviewed nationally and have been heard on folk, World and jazz radio shows all across America, as well as on NPR. There is a wide variety of styles represented on the CDs but the music is unified by the sound of the mandolin, violin, guitar and string bass. There are some cuts that bring to mind a smoky Parisian bistro, while others evoke a shady plaza in the heart of Bahia.


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Will Patton Trio

Will Patton ~ mandolin 

Thal Aylward ~ violin

Dono Schabner ~ guitar

Over the course of 5 CDs and 15 years of performing from California to Paris, The Will Patton trio has developed an astonishingly rich stew of acoustic music that includes Gypsy swing, musette, bebop and jazz standards, country waltzes and Brazilian choros and sambas. Will Patton, called by "one of a handful of jazz mandolin global titans" leads the group which features New England legend Thal Aylward on violin and well respected master guitarist Dono Schabner. Their latest CD, "Flow", received a 'Tammy' from the Times Argus as the Instrumental Album of the Year and was selected by Vermont Public Radio as one of the top jazz releases of 2012.

  " . . .  ah, musicians who listen to each other - what a treat." -Terry Pender in Mandolin Quarterly

“With his direct, melody-driven style, Patton at times sounds like a more worldly Jethro Burns jamming with musical pals from Brazil, Paris and Harlem in the mid-1930s.” – Mandolin Magazine

© Regina Mandolin Orchestra 2013