“Contemporary classical music for plucked string instruments reflecting folk, jazz and world music influences”
The New American Mandolin Ensemble (NAME) specializes in finding and performing contemporary works written for plucked string instruments. NAME’s instrumentation consists of mandolins, mandola, mandocello, ‘liuto cantabile’ and classical guitars, augmented by string bass. Championing the best of composers for this idiom from around the globe, NAME has a special interest in promoting works from the United States. The particular instrumentation and repertoire of this group make the New American Mandolin Ensemble a unique voice on the contemporary concert scene.
Since forming in 2013, the group has performed at venues as diverse as ‘Eurofest Zupfmusik 2014’ in Bruchsal, Germany – the world’s largest festival devoted to music for the plucked string – to the Classical Mandolin Society of America’s Annual Convention Concert in Portland, Oregon.
From their home base in southern New England, they have performed in community series, art centers, schools, coffeehouses, and workshops. They are expert at conducting classes for their respective instruments and ensemble configuration.
The repertoire of the New American Mandolin Ensemble consists of original works by leading contemporary composers for plucked strings, some of which were written especially for the ensemble. These composers include Chris Acquavella, Clarice Assad, Jan Bartlema, Jim ten Bosk, Owen Hartford, Victor Kioulaphides, Annette Kruisbrink, Yasuo Kuwahara, Eden Macadam-Somer, Claudio Mandonico, Michael Nix, Emiel Stopler, and Frank Wallace. They also perform arrangements of diverse modern repertoire, including works by Egberto Gismonti, Antonio-Carlos Jobim, Armin Kaufman, and Astor Piazzolla.
All members of NAME are professional musicians involved intimately and at length with various aspects of plucked string performance – performance, teaching, composing, and arranging. The New American Mandolin Ensemble consists of:
Mandolin: Mark Davis, Mark Levesque
Liuto Cantabile/Mandola: Robert Margo
Classical Guitar: Beverly Davis, Judy Handler
String Bass: Bob Asprinio
NAME founder/director Mark Davis first studied guitar and mandolin with Hibbard Perry of the 'Rhode Island school of mandolin' (G. Pettine and W. Place), and later with the pioneering German guitarist/conductor Siegfried Behrend, from whom Davis inherited his fascination with contemporary plucked string music. Guitarist Judith Handler and mandolinist Mark Levesque have created an enviable reputation for their concerts and recordings as the Handler-Levesque Duo. Robert Margo is equally adept at the mandolin, mandola, and his custom-made 'liuto-cantabile'; he is also a tireless arranger of music for plucked strings. Classical guitarist Beverly Davis is known for her work in a duo with Mark Davis, with the Cafe Trio Plus, and her performances with the Providence Mandolin Orchestra. Bassist Bob Asprinio is as often found playing electric guitar in an Americana band, playing the theorbo in an early music group, or jamming with his cowboy band.