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Burlington instrument maker receives grant to make new mandolin

By Mandolin Cafe
July 20, 2005 - 6:45 am

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Joseph Campanella Cleary was awarded a prestigous Creation Project Grant by the Vermont Arts Council for his work in re-developing the mandolin using violinmaking techniques and design. Trained as a mandolinmaker, violinmaker and musician, he has spent several years working on a design which integrates centuries-old violin elements with the mandolin. Progress of the mandolin construction is being documented on the web at

There is historical precedent for this kind of work. The designers of the modern mandolin (1900-1924) relied on violin design to usher in a new sound which has penetrated many styles of music. In the 21st century he poses the question: "Does mandolin design have anything left to gain from the violin?" The answer comes not in wood or on paper, but in music, played by a master. "Sound is the ultimate criteria by which my work will be judged."

"Like Mandolinists Mike Marshall and David Grisman before him, Jamie Masefield is challenging notions of what that stringed instrument forever associated with folk and bluegrass music can do."
- JazzTimes, Bill Milkowski, May 2000

Jamie Masefield is another Vermont artist for whom pushing boundaries is a modus operandi. His band, the Jazz Mandolin Project has taken mandolin music to new places and new audiences for twelve years with six studio albums.

"The whole concept of JMP," says Masefield "has been one of experimentation." This sense of adventure along with Jamie's musical experience made him a perfect match for the project.

The instrument created through this grant will be presented in a free concert of solo, acoustic mandolin music on August 18th 2005 at The Firehouse Gallery at 135 Church St. in downtown Burlington, Vermont.

The presentation starts at 7:30 pm and the Firehouse Gallery is fully accessible to the public.

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