The Seventh Annual March Mandolin Festival will be held March 6-8, 2009, at the Concord Community Music School in Concord, New Hampshire. This year, the festival features Radim Zenkl, Seth Austen, Skip Gorman, and David Surette. This two-day event offers group lessons, and workshops on a variety of topics, jam sessions, and an evening concert. Additionally, the festival will present a March 6, Friday night concert featuring the same performers at The Press Room in Portsmouth, NH (this is a separate ticket from the Concord events).

To register for the festival, send a check for $110 made out to:

Concord Community Music School
23 Wall St., Concord, NH 03301

Lodging is available at the Courtyard Marriott Hotel and Conference Center in Concord, New Hampshire, with a special festival rate. A limited number of rooms have been set aside, so if you are interested, please contact the hotel directly at 603-225-0303.

For more information, contact 207-384-8151, 603-228-1196 (Music School) or email soozendave (at)

Sponsors include the NH State Council on the Arts Traditional Arts Program, Mandolin Cafe and the Concord Courtyard Marriott Hotel.

Performer bios

Radim Zenkl's virtuosity and innovation have placed him at the forefront of the modern acoustic music scene. Radim was born in the Czech Republic, where his father teaches classical music at the University of Ostrava. In addition to classical music, his early influences were folk music and Czech unique "tramp music". He began playing the mandolin at thirteen. Zenkl's choice of mandolin came as no great joy to his father, who claimed that the instrument had no "real" repertoire, fueling his desire to create one of his own.

Zenkl escaped from Czechoslovakia four months before the fall of communism for political freedom and to be closer to his musical influences. Once in America, he settled in the San Francisco Bay Area. After only a short period of time, Zenkl was performing at major music festivals and sharing the stage with artists such as Jerry Garcia/David Grisman, Tuck & Patti, Bela Fleck & The Flecktones, David Grisman Quintet, Preservation Hall Jazz Band, Tim O'Brien, Peter Rowan, John McCutcheon, Dan Hicks and many others. Zenkl went on to record two CDs for David Grisman's record label "Acoustic Disc". "Galactic Mandolin" (1992) is comprised of 13 original solo works, each in a different tuning. "Czech It Out" (1994) features original and Czech and Slovak traditional tunes on solo mandolin, mandocello and mandolin banjo. A new CD entitled "Restless Joy" was released in November 1999.

Seth Austen is a nationally recognized acoustic multi-instrumentalist, composing, playing, recording and teaching diverse styles from traditional Appalachian, Celtic and New England contradance music to eastern European Klezmer, Balkan, Nordic, bottleneck blues and jazz. Seth has been particularly involved in many American roots styles for 25 years and plays a wide array of stringed instruments, including the entire mandolin family. He has released several CDs and book/CD packages, and performs frequently with hammer dulcimer specialist and fellow multi-instrumentalist Beverly Woods. He also has the distinction of being a triple winner at the prestigious Walnut Valley National Flatpicking Championships, Winfield, KS, placing in fingerstyle guitar, mandolin and fretted dulcimer categories in 1981.

Skip Gorman is one of the leading teachers and players of Bill Monroe-style mandolin in the country, as well as being a masterful cowboy singer and fine fiddler. An encounter with Monroe at age twelve was a pivotal moment in the young musician's life, and he was lucky to have the opportunity to see musicians like Monroe, legendary Texas fiddler Eck Robertson, and Mother Maybelle Carter at the historic Newport Folk Festival. He has taught bluegrass mandolin at top festivals such as IBMA World of Bluegrass, European World of Bluegrass and Grass Valley Bluegrass Festival. He has released a number of fine recordings, including three acclaimed Rounder releases focusing on cowboy music, and two focused on "old-style" bluegrass mandolin. His most recent release is a two-CD set of mandolin tunes titled Mandolin in the Cowcamp.

David Surette is highly regarded throughout New England and beyond for his work on the mandolin, guitar (both flatpick and fingerstyle), and bouzouki; Sing Out Magazine wrote that "Surette's playing is always inventive, and sets a new standard for traditional instrumentalists." As part of a duo with his wife, singer Susie Burke, they have performed regularly together for 20 years, recording several albums and building a reputation as one of New England’s top folk duos. Surette was a founding member of the Airdance band with fiddler Rodney Miller, with whom he recorded four albums and toured nationally. His most recent solo release, The Green Mandolin, is a collection of Celtic tunes for mandolin and cittern. He is also an experienced teacher, and coordinates folk music programming and teaches regularly at the Concord Community Music School.

Festival schedule

Friday March 6

March Mandolin Festival concert featuring Radim Zenkl, Seth Austen, Skip Gorman, and David Surette, at the Press Room, Daniel St. Portsmouth NH 603-431-5186 for more info). This is a separate ticket from Saturday and Sunday events at the Concord Community Music School.

Saturday March 7
(all Saturday and Sunday events at the Concord Community Music School, Concord NH)

Workshop Room schedule (tentative; still open to revision)

Community Room - participatory teaching workshops: int/adv
Recital Hall – sessions/special presentation: levels vary
Studio B - Beginner's session
Room 119 - participatory teaching workshops: int/adv

10:45-12:00 class session

Community Room - mandolin technique and speed development Radim
Recital Hall – Old-time tune session Seth
Studio B – Beginner's class: The Basics David
Room 119 - Developing a classic bluegrass sound Skip

12:00-1:00 lunch break

There are a number of quick and easy places to get lunch and/or dinner within walking or driving distance of the school, and parking in Concord NH is not a problem at all. We will assemble a short list of good options, and may try to provide an on-site sandwich purchase option. I am also planning to have coffee/tea and light snacks available for purchase at the school. There are basic kitchen facilities at the school, and you are welcome to bring a cold lunch or even something to heat up in the microwave.

1:00 – 1:30 Group tunes in the Community Room, led by David, open to all

This is a chance for as many as are interested to play through a selection of choice mandolin tunes in a large group setting; written music (melody, harmony, and chords) will be provided in advance to all registrants. Led by David.

1:30-2:45 class session

Community Room - Simple Melodies Played Out West Skip
Recital Hall – Swing session Radim
Studio B - Beginner’s session: how to learn tunes by ear Seth
Room 119 – open jam

3:00-4:15 class session

Community Room – Celtic backup/accompaniment David
Recital Hall – Bluegrass tunes and songs Skip
Studio B – Beginner's class: right hand picking techniques (strumming patterns, tremolo and crosspicking) Radim
Room 119 – Exploring the Blues Seth

4:30-5:30 class session

Community Room – eastern European mandolin Radim & Seth
Recital Hall – Irish jigs and slip jigs David
Studio B - Beginner’s class: chop chords Skip
Room 119 – open jam

5:30-7:30 dinner break
See lunch break

7:30-9:30 March Mandolin Festival concert featuring Radim Zenkl, Seth Austen, Skip Gorman, and David Surette. Admission included for Festival participants; general admission tickets.

Sunday March 8

10:30-12:30 Mando roundtable and Group Tunes

This is planned as a loose, casual way to consolidate everything that goes on Saturday; a chance to ask questions, fill in last-minute gaps, get a close-up demonstration of that tune from Saturday night's concert that mystified you, compare notes, socialize over coffee, pick a few more tunes,etc. This year, we will have a bit of a focus on the tunes of Bill Monroe. In addition, we will get a second chance to play through the group tunes together.

David Surette
PO Box 433, South Berwick ME 03908
More info.


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