Mandolins invade Atlanta

After years of being considered primarily a bluegrass instrument, the mandolin is coming into its own again. Thanks to the emergence of mandolin ensembles, this pumpkin-backed instrument with the jaunty vibrato sound is reclaiming its former popularity.
"A hundred years ago, the mandolin flourished in America," says Bob Knysz, who with Charley Rappaport founded the Atlanta Mandolin Society, now in its eighth year. "There were orchestras and ensembles in all the major cities, including Atlanta."
And Atlanta will play a part in its current revival by hosting the Classical Mandolin Society of America Convention, which runs Nov. 8-12 at the Sheraton Colony Square Hotel. The convention is open to everyone with an interest in the music of the mandolin and includes daily workshops and evening concerts. Thursday night's concert features David Grisman and friends, the Nashville Mandolin Trio and Charley Rappaport with Balalaika South, while Saturday night's gala includes Chris Thile, the Modern Mandolin Quartet and the largest group of mandolinists in the country together on stage — joined, of course, by the Atlanta Mandolin Society.
But don't expect an evening of nothing but bluegrass, according to Knysz. "We stretch the limits. We do everything from turn of the century music to Duke Ellington, and a lot in between."
For more information on the Classical Mandolin Society of America Convention, e-mail CMSA2000@mindspring.com.