About Us

Chris Acquavella, SDCMC Director, mandolinist, educator (mandolin, baroque mandolin, guitar)

Chris Acquavella is a classical mandolinist & educator from San Diego, California, who currently lives in Mainz, Germany. He graduated First Class Honors from Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music & Dance in London, England. Chris studied under the instruction of Alison Stephens, as well as composition with Andrew Poppy. In 2004, Chris won the Wolfsan Foundation Music Award and was awarded the TCM Trust Silver Medal for String Studies in 2006. Chris Acquavella performs across Europe and America both in a solo and chamber music capacity. Aside from chamber music, he concertizes as a soloist & orchestral musician with various orchestras & ensembles throughout the world such as Duo Acquavella (DE), Dartington Festival Orchestra (UK), Detmold Landestheater (DE), Ensemble Lippe Barock (DE), GER Mandolin Orchestra (USA), Bach Collegium San Diego (USA), San Diego Opera (USA) and the San Diego Symphony (USA).

Recordings include: Letter from London, EP (2006), Duo LaRé: In Other Words (Water Village Records, 2010), and Praeludium (Water Village Records, 2011). Chris is currently a recording artist for America’s oldest and largest independent classical label, Centaur Records, Inc. Duo Acquavella with Bach Collegium San Diego; Gimo-Samling: 18th Century Sonatas and Triosonatas for Mandolin (CRC 3466) was released on Centaur Records in March 2016.

Aside from teaching and performing on the mandolin, Chris is a composer of new works for mandolin & mandolin ensembles. He studied composition at Trinity Laban Conservatory of Music and Dance, under the tuition of contemporary artist, Andrew Poppy. Up to date, Chris has ten compositions that are published by Joachim-Trekel-Musikverlag, Hamburg and Astute Music, Ltd. Some of his most popular compositions are Imardin for solo mandolin (T6457), 2014 for solo mandolin (T6629), Journey to Pazardzhik for baroque mandolino (T6568), Wishes for two mandolins (am514-28), and Yutuma for zupforchester (R9430). Chris Acquavella is co-author, along with Alison Stephens, of The Mandolin Companion (am514-25).

Chris' website: www.chrisacquavella.com

Chris performs on mandolins by Brian N. Dean of Labraid

Annika Hinsche, SDCMC Guest Artist, mandolinist, teacher, conductor

Annika Hinsche nee Lückebergfeld is a sought-after performer, teacher, judge and conductor. She is winner and prize-winner of numerous national and international competitions like “Torneo Internazionale di Musica/Rome“ or reknown “Yasuo-Kuwahara-Competition“.


As performer with an international concert career she regulary visits Europe, Asia and the US as soloist, in “Mare Duo“ or in different chamber music formations. Annika teaches as assistant professor at “Universität zu Köln“ and was assistant professor at “Hochschule für Musik und Tanz Köln, Standort Wuppertal“. Moreover, she was guest-lecturer of “Berklee College of Music in Bostosn/USA“ and is regulary invited to national and international festivals in Europe and the US. Her pupils and students are winners and prize-winners of numerous national and international competitions.


Annika was invited to judge at reknown national competitions like “Jugend musiziert“ and at international competitions in Europe and the US. She is conductor of “JuniorZupfOrchester NRW“ (a selective orchestra of talented young players from the state of NRW), ofHessisches Landeszupforchester“ and of different festival orchestras in Europe and the US.


Annika recorded several CDs like her Solo-CDs “Aproximação“ and "12 Preludes for mandolin solo" by Carlo Domeniconi , in “Mare Duo“ “Crystal tears“ and “Mare Duo plays Frank Wallace“, “Impressioni“ with “Quartetto Colori“ and a CD with the famous German pop group “Söhne Mannheims“ for “MTV Unplugged“.


She is dedicatee of more than 80 compositions from reknown composers like J. Zenamon, K. Vassiliev, J. Kindle, C. Acquavella, L. Wüller, T. LeVines, Ch. Kirsch, K.-H. Zarius, F. Wallace, D. Hahn, M. Borner etc. and performed many first premieres. In 2013 famous composer Carlo Domeniconi dedicated 12 preludes for mandolin solo to her. In professional circles they are regarded as milestones of the mandolin literature. Annika edited music for different formations at publishing houses like Trekel, Margaux, ex-tempore etc. “Edition Mare Duo“ was released with Trekel and contains more than 20 compositions around mandolin and guitar.


Annika Hinsche studied mandolin with Prof. Marga Wilden-Hüsgen, Prof. Caterina Lichtenberg, Prof. John McGann and Gertrud Weyhofen-Tröster.

Annika's website: www.annika-hinsche.de

Brian Dean, SDCMC Luthier-in-Residence. Builder of mandolins, mandolas, mandolinos, etc.

Brian Dean, luthier, has been quietly building superb instruments for some of the finest talents in the mandolin world today. His philosophy is simple: "don't complicate it". Each mandolin is brought to life from the rawest of lumber and metals, shaped unhurriedly by hand tools, and tuned to resonant golden standards by self-taught methods.


He has quickly become one of North America’s premier instrument builders and artisans. Brian has a growing list of professional musicians such as Joseph Brent, Chris Acquavella and Julien Martineau, who perform on Labraid instruments. Aged woods, natural adhesives, unrefined shellacs, and aromatic resins come together in musical instruments that sing with grace, power, and ease. Brian creates approximately eight to twelve handcrafted instruments per year


Brian N. Dean holds a Bachelor's degree in Wood Science from Virginia Polytechnic, 2000, cum laude. He lives with his family in 

Sydney, Nova Scotia, Canada.

Brian's website: www.labraid.ca 

Iain Lennon, guest instructor, mandolin

Iain Lennon has recently graduated with Honours as a Bachelor of Music from the University of Glasgow in Scotland, United Kingdom. He is looking forward to continuing his studies in mandolin performance at Masters level under Caterina Lichtenberg at the Hochschule für Musik und Tanz Köln in Wuppertal, Germany. Over the years, Iain has studied mandolin with Frank Scheuerle, Barbara Pommerenke-Steel and Chris Acquavella.

The leader of Da Capo Alba mandolin and guitar orchestra who are British champions, as well as leader of the newly formed British National Fretted Orchestra, Iain frequently performs as a mandolinist in a solo and ensemble setting and as a pianist in several churches and in bands. He has been awarded numerous trophies for competitions at a national level for mandolin and guitar duo and composition. Furthermore, Iain was selected to perform with the European Guitar and Mandolin Youth Orchestra in Marseille, France in 2014 and in 2016 was offered a scholarship for the San Diego Classical Mandolin Camp.

Iain has gained experience of teaching mandolin, piano, bass guitar and music theory both privately and within the Lanarkshire Guitar and Mandolin Association where he has had the opportunity to teach classes of students of all age ranges and abilities- from young people to adults and from beginner to advanced level. In 2015, Iain attained a Mandolin Teachers Certificate from the British Banjo Mandolin and Guitar Federation which has further enhanced his mandolin teaching skills.

He also has experience of tutoring mandolin workshops across Scotland, having led ‘Come and Try the Mandolin’ workshops at Celtic Connections, the world’s largest winter music festival of it kind, and Edinburgh International Harp Festival as well as working with Edinburgh Mandolin and Guitar Orchestra.

Facebook: @mandolinmaniain

Gary Payne, co-administrator, webmaster
A photographer by profession, Gary has been playing the mandolin for a number of years. He has studied, on and off, with Chris Acquavella for much of that time. He has also participated in a number of workshops and classes with Caterina Lichtenberg, Carlo Aonzo, Mike Marshall, Evan Marshall, and Paulo Sá--at events like The Mandolin Symposium and the Classical Mandolin Society of America (CMSA) annual conventions. Gary's main area of interest is the classical mandolin; it's instruments, techniques and repertoire. Gary has also recently taken up the violin, with a particular interest in Baroque music. 

Gary was concert master of the New Expression Mandolin Orchestra (NEMO) in San Diego, and has performed as a trio and a duo in a number of local events and concerts. Gary also plays violin in the Kensington Baroque Orchestra--which he helped found. He also promotes and hosts (mostly mandolin) concerts in San Diego. Gary is president of the Board of Directors of the Bach Collegium San Diego, an early music ensemble dedicated to performing vibrant historically informed music. Gary is also a board member of the national organization Early Music America.

Gary's website: www.garypaynephoto.com
Bach Collegium San Diego: www.bachcollegiumsd.org
Kensington Baroque Orchestra: Facebook
Early Music America: www.earlymusicamerica.org
Most photos on website by: Gary Payne,