The Mandolin Symposium Philosophy

The Mandolin Symposium

In 2004 David Grisman, Mike Marshall, Chris Thile and Stephen Ruffo came together to bring the first Mandolin Symposium to life. It was their vision to create a true symposium, a place where some of today’s best mandolin players would come together to share ideas, meet, teach and discuss the mandolin with students from all over the world. The first symposium exceeded everyone’s hopes and dreams — an enthusiastic revival of the instrument was felt by all who attended.

It was our hope in creating the Mandolin Symposium, that we could fill the void between what was basically a folk music approach to learning and a more systematic approach to studying and learning about the wide range of mandolin styles that exist. For ten years now, our students’ quest for knowledge about the mandolin and mandolin music has driven us to offer new and exciting challenges each year.

Our Curriculum

Each day begins with a Music Appreciation session that explores the history, the players and the roots of contemporary mandolin music and styles. Next, two periods of electives are offered for players of all styles and levels. Instructors lead ensembles, which rehearse daily in the final period for a performance on the last evening. David Grisman and Mike Marshall also arrange two pieces for the Symposium orchestra (all students and instructors,) which are also rehearsed during this last period. Performances by instructors and supervised late night jams round out each mandolin-filled day.

Our Instructors

This year’s Instructors, along with Mike and David, will include our old friend Don Stiernberg, protoge of the great Jethro Burns, leading the swing and jazz aficionados and Caterina Lichtenberg, our classical master with influences far beyond classical music. Multi-instrumentalist and stylist Emory Lester returns as does Don Julin (author of Mandolin for Dummies) who was a huge hit last year, bringing variety and skill to beginners as well as to more advanced players. Also returning is Rich DelGrosso, five-time Blues Music Award nominee, named ‘the greatest living blues mandoman’ by Blues historian Mark Hoffman and we are excited to bring Sierra Hull, six-time IBMA nominee for Mandolin Player of the Year for her first time at the Symposium. Not only was Sierra the youngest nominee for this prestigious award (at age 16,) but also the first female nominee. Several guest instructors will also visit us, including our friend Danilo Brito, one of the greatest living Brazilian choro virtuosos.

The Mandolin Symposium provides a well-rounded program for all styles, levels and interests. Students come away inspired with an overview of the current state of the art of the mandolin as well as the history of this most glorious of instruments. We hope you’ll join us for another exciting symposium!

The Mandolin Symposium is held on the beautiful campus of the University of California, Santa Cruz, overlooking the Pacific Ocean. Registration options include tuition, campus housing, and all meals.