Chris - Director

Chris Acquavella - graduated First Class Honors from Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music & Dance. Chris mandolin studied under the instruction of Alison Stephens and composition with Andrew Poppy. He won the Wolfsan Foundation Music Award; was awarded the TCM Trust Silver Medal for String Studies and won 1st Prize at the 2016 Call For Scores hosted by the Kalamazoo Mandolin & Guitar Orchestra. Chris Acquavella has released four CDs and is currently a recording artist for America’s oldest and largest independent classical label, Centaur Records, Inc. Chris has performed and taught workshops at the Classical Mandolin Society of America Conventions, River of the West Camp, the David Grisman & Mike Marshall Mandolin Symposium, the annual course of the Austrian Federation of Amateur Musicians (VAMÖ) and the Summer School of the British BMG Federation. Acquavella is a published composer of new mandolin repertoire through Joachim-Trekel-Musikverlag, Hamburg and Astute Music Ltd, UK. 2014 by C. Acquavella:

TBA - Invited Teacher

TBA - Invited Teacher

Brian - Luthier


Brian Dean - Brian Dean of Labraid has been quietly building for some of the finest talents in the mandolin world. 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 is 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 with pride. Brian’s desire and willingness to look outside the box but still respect tradition makes him one of the most creative luthiers today. His skilled work is very original, unique and earthy, soulfully organic and powerful in tone and volume. Each instrument he builds is elegant and has a unique voice. Brian is a real down-to-earth, humble craftsman and artist. Brian Dean holds a Bachelor's degree in Wood Science from Virginia Polytechnic, 2000, cum laude. Fluting ribs on a Roman model:

Gary - Co-administrator


Gary Payne - A photographer by profession, Gary has been playing the mandolin for a number of years. He has mainly studied 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 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:

Bach Collegium San Diego:

Kensington Baroque Orchestra: Facebook

Early Music America: