• University of Rhode Island Course in Mandolin Excellence held October 18-22

    University of Rhode Island Course in Mandolin Excellence

    KINGSTON, R.I. — Part of this year's University of Rhode Island Guitar Festival is the inclusion of a Course in Mandolin Excellence, designed and led by international concert artist and mandolin soloist Jacob Reuven, centered around classical mandolin performance. The course will run October 18-22.

    Based on his deep familiarity with violin repertoire, as well as actual performance and recording of masterpieces for violin on mandolin, Reuven has established a global reputation and created an artistic legacy that today brings forth a young generation of musicians to continue his artistic approach.

    The Course in Mandolin Excellence will include three groups with registration available for each group separately.

    Group A: The Mandolin Soloist - The first group is for young students who aim for a career as classical mandolin performers. This group receives private lessons, and its members participate in a chamber ensemble that rehearses challenging orchestral repertoire every afternoon.

    Those who are accepted into the Solo Mandolin Performance group will receive the sheet music for the ensemble during the month of August.

    Group B: Mandolin Lovers
- The second group is geared toward mandolin enthusiasts of all ages. Those accepted into this group will receive duet sheet music to prepare for the course. During the course, they will benefit from coaching sessions focused on chamber music, rehearsal techniques, and culminate in a final concert performance. Additionally, they will have the opportunity to attend and audit lectures and Mandolin Soloist Performance Class ensemble rehearsals.

    Group C: Auditors - Auditors may attend all lessons, workshops, lectures, and concerts throughout the week.

    With registration deadlines nearing, those interested in attending should act quickly by visiting the link at the end of this article.

    We caught up with Reuven for a quick chat about the program he designed, filling us in on the details.

    Jacob Reuven
    Jacob Reuven

    Tell us about the course you've designed for this year's festival.

    Creating a course for outstanding mandolin performance is one of the most important milestones in my career. I always enjoy seeing how many mandolin aficionados there are on the mandolin, and how it's such an accessible instrument that quickly yields pleasing musical results. However, as the number of courses and mandolin orchestras for enthusiasts has grown, I've often felt over the years that the number of courses geared toward young artists aspiring to become professional players are not as plentiful. The importance of building this course in the United States is more important than ever. As far as I know, to this day, there is no single place in the entire U.S. where you can pursue a structured degree in classical mandolin performance. For such a vast and diverse country, this comes as a surprise to me. Imagine registering at an American university, studying for 4 or 5 years, completing a degree that covers all the foundations of solo mandolin repertoire, both original and arranged compositions for the instrument.

    The richness of the world of mandolin aficionados, the love and appreciation for the instrument in the U.S., the fact that there's a connection between the Israeli and American schools, and how both nations have explored the mandolin's sound through the study and performance of violin's historical repertoire over the years — all of these are the foundation upon which this course is built, aiming to initiate a tradition.

    What makes this course special?

    First and foremost, individual lessons are provided, and at the heart of the course is an ensemble of young outstanding players who receive private lessons and professional ensemble rehearsals over five days. Alongside this, there is a specific focus on repertoire originally written for violin over the years. With almost religious dedication, I lead a meticulous approach to performing and teaching this repertoire, believing that a classical mandolin soloist can broaden every musical parameter through innovative compositions for the mandolin based on violin works. This school takes the soloist to the edge of what is possible, unveiling a new dimension of possibilities for the instrument. It teaches you as an artist to find solutions for arrangements and tackle masterpieces by great composers. This school has long been needed as a foundation for every soloist in the mandolin world. Unlike 20 years ago, nowadays, this repertoire is much more welcomed in competitions and concerts.

    L-R: Mark Davis, Ekaterina Skliar, Dor Amar

    Beside me in the course are three wonderful artists: Mark Davis (Director of the Providence Mandolin Orchestra), Ekaterina Skliar (Russian Domra, mandolinist), and Dor Amar (Israeli mandolinist). Each will present fascinating lectures and offer private lessons as well. Our course isn't just for outstanding players who one day want to become professional mandolinists, but also those who want to integrate into the classical world as soloists. We also have a track for mandolin enthusiasts, aficionado players who want to participate in the course. Enthusiasts receive chamber music lessons and prepare for a final concert, and enjoy various lectures as well.

    Why Rhode Island?

    I'm familiar with the area and the University of Rhode Island's Guitar Festival through my colleague and duo partner, Adam Levin. Adam is my partner in Duo Mantar, and beyond that, he's a superb classical guitarist and he established a lovely festival at the University of Rhode Island. It's in its 8th year, and Adam is always pushing boundaries and creating new opportunities for audience members and students and performers. Being curious and adventurous led to the idea of building an outstanding mandolin course within the festival.

    What would you like to tell those considering enrollment?

    This is not just another mandolin course; it's a true opportunity to deeply expose oneself to a very meticulous method of mandolin playing. The exposure is for everyone, including mandolin soloists and aficionados alike. Additionally, everyone has the opportunity to take individual or chamber music lessons. Add to that the fact that everything takes place within a guitar festival, which is a close cousin of the mandolin. Students will have access to the entire guitar festival, including concerts, masterclasses, and lectures. I believe there aren't many opportunities like this, especially for young players who want to break through and advance. I strongly believe that there is a wonderful platform here for learning a lot and expanding your horizons.

    Tuition: $350 Active Participation/ $175 Auditor Participation

    Additional Information