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36th annual convention brings mandolin virtuosos, workshops and concerts to Kalamazoo

Playing the mandolin
Katie Brady from Missoula, Montana, United States, CC BY 2.0 , via Wikimedia Commons
Wikimedia Commons
Playing the mandolin

Developed in Renaissance Italy, innovated by Orville Gibson in Kalamazoo, hugely popular in Japan and appealing to violinists who want to try a plucked instrument, the mandolin is an instrument full of stories and staying power. Sept 22-24 at the Radisson Plaza Hotel, the Kalamazoo Mandolin and Guitar Orchestra will host the 36th annual convention of the Classical Mandolin Society of America. KMGO founder and mandolinist Jackie Zito and KMGO member and mandocellist Vivian Abramowitz previewed the celebration, highlighting three free public concerts featuring today’s top classical soloists as well as the Kalamazoo Mandolin and Guitar Orchestra and an en masse group of over 100 players.

Only in the last century has the mandolin become associated with folk and bluegrass music. Zito says that in the late 19th through early 20th centuries, people joined mandolin orchestras to play classical pieces and popular tunes of the day using the whole mandolin family, from treble to bass. That was her intention when she formed the KMGO in 2003. She says Kalamazoo is a special place for mandolin players to visit because of the special instruments and innovations that came from the Gibson Company.

All of the public concerts will be held at 7:30 pm at the Arcadia ballroom of the Radisson Plaza Hotel in downtown Kalamazoo. Here’s the lineup:


Guitarist Matt Cosgrove followed by German soloist
Florian Klaus Rumpf on Mandolin


The Kalamazoo Mandolin & Guitar Orchestra, followed by Florian Klaus Rumpf on Mandocello


Ricardo Sandoval & Katherine Lasso, followed by the En Masse Orchestra

Concerts are free but freewill donations are welcome.

Cara Lieurance is the local host of NPR's All Things Considered on 1021 WMUK and covers local arts & culture on Let's Hear It on 89.9 Classical WMUK weekday mornings at 10 - 11 am.
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