Biography

You’ll find a short 1-paragraph bio by clicking the “Marilynn” menu heading.

Marilynn Mair has shown the world what the mandolin can achieve in the hands of a skillful artist.

Internationally praised for her beautiful tone, versatile technique, and impeccable choice of repertoire, she established classical mandolin in chamber music circles worldwide. She then branched out to playing choro in Rio, jazz at Berklee, avant garde premieres in Europe and Japan and writing her own compositions. Marilynn is a mandolinist, it’s how she enters the world; through her concerts, recordings, and books, she has created a potent legacy for generations of players and audiences to come.

Performance

Marilynn has been performing internationally for four decades, appearing at Carnegie Hall, the White House, the Newport Music Festival, Lincoln Center, Sala Cecelia Mirelles, the Palacio de Cristal, Tivoli Concert Hall, the Palffy Palace, Schloss Eggersberg, the Kennedy Center, the Banff Centre for the Arts, and hundreds of other venues. She has  represented the United States at international music festivals in Italy, France, Spain, England, Austria, Germany, Sweden, Denmark, and Japan, earning the title, “First Lady of the Mandolin.” As a performer, she has inspired, recorded, and performed significant new works for mandolin, by composers that include Ernst Krenek, Guido Santorsola, Evan Ziporyn, Daniel Pinkham, Ann Carr Boyd, Sigfried Behrend, David Jaffe, Will Ayton, Luiz Simas, Robert N. Martel, Adam Larrabee, and others.

Marilynn performs in a number of different duos, partnering with Brazilian pianist Luiz Simas, classical pianist Nancy Nicholson, guitarist/composer Robert N. Martel, guitarist Robert Paul Sullivan, Swedish lutenist Mitch Nelin, 7-string guitarist Igor Nicholai, and others. Marilynn has also worked with a broad spectrum of musicians, from the Deutches Zupforchester and Musica Festiva Lincopensis, to Vinicius Dorin, Arismar do Espirito Santo, Paulo Sá, Radim Zenkl, Barry Mitterhof, Rudy Cipolla, Eddie “The Chief” Clearwater, and Duke Robbilard.

Marilynn directs and performs in several ensembles. She is co-founder and director of Enigmatica, a mandolin octet specializing in Baroque, Brazilian, and contemporary music, that has released three CDs in its 17-year history. For the past decade she has performed and recorded in Brazil with several musicians including Água no Feijão, a Rio-based choro band. She is the Artistic Director of the American Mandolin & Guitar Orchestra, a group whose membership spans North America, and a member of the Roger Williams University Faculty Trio.

Recordings

Over the course of her career she has released two dozen highly acclaimed solo and ensemble CDs, and appeared on numerous compilations. Her most recent solo CDs, “Madrugada” (2015) and “Meu Bandolim” (2009), were recorded in the US and Rio, and feature Brazilian music and Marilynn’s Brazil-inspired originals. Her CDs are listen in the CD catalog and available for sale through this website, as well as Amazon.

Teaching

Although best known as a performer and recording artist, Marilynn is held in high regard as a teacher and scholar.  She has directed the American Mandolin & Guitar Summer School for decades, the only summer camp for adult mandolin students at its inception. She has published a 224-page method book, The Complete Mandolinist, that has been receiving international acclaim from teachers and students alike.  She has researched Brazilian choro extensively, and her articles on its history and music have been called the most complete choro resource available in English. Her bilingual choro method book for bandolim, written with Rio-based bandolimist and professor Paulo Sá, was published in 2010. A third book, “The 100 – Techniques & Exercises for Mandolinists,” is set to be published in June 2017. For over a decade Marilynn has wrote a regular column, “A Classical Approach,” for  Mandolin Magazine. Marilynn is a Professor of Music at Roger Williams University in Bristol, Rhode Island, where she teaches courses in music and cultural history, specializing in the Americas.

Training

Marilynn began her mandolin studies with Hibbard Perry in Providence, Rhode Island, and continued them in Vienna with Professor Vincenz Hladky of the Vienna Conservatory. She has also studied in Germany with Takashi Ochi and Sigfried Behrend, in England with Hugo d’Alton and Jack Duarte, in Rio with Joel Nascimento, and with Cuban guitarist and composer Leo Brouwer, who called her the “angel of the tremolo.”

Marilynn is available for concerts, workshops, and other events. Please inquire here!

  • “Smudging the lines between folk and classical is an intrepid endeavor… Mair’s a superb mandolin player who has brought the instrument to unexpected places…”

    – Jim Macnie, The Providence Phoenix (USA)

    “Marilynn Mair has always had the keen ability to balance classical mandolin traditions and repertoire, while constantly breaking new musical ground…a superb and versatile mandolinist and composer.”

    – – Butch Baldassari, Mandolin Magazine (USA)

    “Mair travels by mandolin to Brazil and brilliance… her commitment to the music shines through.”

    – Rick Massimo, The Providence Journal

    “Stepping back to the 18th-century masterworks gave her the opportunity to highlight her technique with a fresh light… her playing is thoughtful, vibrant and a delight to listen to.”

    — Terence Pender, Mandolin Quarterly (USA)

    “She’s a fabulous player with a wonderfully clear and lyrical sound.”

    – The Ottawa Citizen (Canada)

    “Mair displays an exceptionally gifted approach to this music, using her formidable mandolin technique with grace and sensitivity… It’s the next best thing to a trip to Rio.”

    – David McCarty, Mandolin Magazine (USA)

    “Marilynn Mair performs Brazilian mandolin music… she plays the mandolin as an instrument for all occasions.”
    – Vaughn Watson, The Providence Journal (USA)

    Bring a talented ensemble of gifted musicians together playing some of the great concertos and chamber music pieces of the 1700s, present the extraordinary classical mandolinist Marilynn Mair front and center, and you have a rare combination of the right musicians performing the right music at the right time.

    – David McCarty, Mandolin Magazine (USA)

    “Marilynn Mair é uma bandolinista americana de formação erudita”

    — Paulo Eduardo Neves, Agenda do Samba Choro (Brasil)

    “Mair is unstoppable… capable of evoking any landscape, past or present, you’d care to conjure.”

    – Mike Caito, Providence Phoenix (USA)

    Marilynn Mair on mandolin…touches the deepest and most engaging reaches of the ancient and passionate ‘Latin soul’.

    – Carlos Agudelo, Billboard Magazine

    “A lovely concert! We estimate your spell-bound and enthusiastic audience at close to 1800 people…”

    – Lincoln Center Out-Of-Doors (USA)

    “The final repeat of the melody transmitted a strong feeling of peace and tenderness that escaped no one in the audience. It is this sensitivity and subtleness that characterized the overall performance.”

    – Brian Hodel, Guitar Review (USA)

    “A brilliant concert from beginning to end…The performance was extraordinary.”
    – La Rioja (Spain)

    “A sparkling concert… absolutely brilliant!”

    – Guitar Magazine (England)

    “Marilynn Mair acquits herself very well indeed, a most accomplished player, able to deal with the many intricacies the repertoire demands of her.”

    – Chris Kilvington, Classical Guitar (England)

    “Marilynn Mair lives up to her reputation as an excellent mandolinist, with clear tone, a beautiful tremolo, and creative expressiveness.”

    – Zupfmusik Magazin (Germany)