SBM Sponsored Artists

Strings By Mail is proud to sponsor a select group of artists. These artists each represent the highest level of artistry in their field, either as established artists or as young emerging talents.

Alex de Grassi     |      Matt Palmer     |      Gohar Vardanyan     |      Livio Gianola     |      Cim Frode     |      Adam del Monte     |      Irene Gomez     |      Raphaella Smits     |      PD Guitar Duo     |      Stoll Vaughan     |      Vince Carrola     |      Luke Winslow-King     |      Davisson Duo     |      Jack Cimo

Alex de Grassi

Alex de Grassi

I first heard Alex de Grassi live at Carnegie hall in about 1980, and have been a dedicated fan ever since. He is an artist who has never stopped growing and always created inspired music. His technique is fantastic and his music is ever meaningful. We at Strings By Mail are proud to now have a sponsorship relationship with Alex and have teamed with him to pursue the mutual goal of promoting the pursuit of higher education for acoustic guitarists. We will be announcing new efforts to that end in the coming months.
-John Wunsch, President | Strings By Mail

Alex de Grassi has been a unique voice in the world of acoustic guitar for over 30 years and his innovative approach to composing and arranging for solo steel-string guitar has influenced a generation of players. From his first solo performances in university coffeehouses and as a street musician to his engagements at such prestigious venues as Carnegie Hall, the Kennedy Center, and the Montreux Jazz Festival, Alex has followed his own vision and, in the process, helped to lay the foundation for contemporary fingerstyle guitar. Inspired by American and British Isles folk and blues artists in his early teens, his musical pursuits soon expanded to encompass classical, jazz, and world music. He has since become known for his evocative compositions and arrangements, and for his sheer virtuosity. Using a broad palette of techniques and timbre in conjunction with his ability to weave together melody, counter-melody, bass, harmony, and rhythm into a highly orchestrated canvas of sound, Alex’s performances take the listener well beyond the instrument. The Wall Street Journal has called his playing “flawless” and Billboard hails his “intricate finger-picking technique with an uncanny gift for melodic invention.”

Alex’s career has drawn acclaim for numerous recordings as well as for his live performances as a soloist and within ensemble settings. His 1978 recording, Turning: Turning Back (cited by Acoustic Guitar magazine among their top ten essential fingerstyle recordings), the subsequent recordings Slow Circle (1979) and Southern Exposure (1984), and his Grammy® nominated recording The Water Garden (1998) are considered classics of the genre.

He has twice been commissioned by the New York Guitar Festival to compose and perform live scores for the festival's Silent Films/Live Guitars series: in 2010 at Merkin Hall, and in 2006 at Flushing Town Hall. Festival director David Spelman says “Alex de Grassi is a treasure… his technical wizardry as well as his vibrant and poetic music-making make him one of the most distinctive steel-string guitarists performing today.”

Alex’s most recent solo guitar recording, In Concert (Mel Bay Records), was recorded in front of a live Nashville audience and it features compositions and arrangements spanning the length of his career. His latest solo studio recording, Now and Then: Folk Songs for the 21st Century (Tropo Records), features contemporary arrangements of 11 treasured melodies from the American standards repertoire.

Matt Palmer

Matt Palmer

I was introduced to Matt Palmer by my associate and former student Dr. Brad De Roche. One often hears of exciting new artists on the horizon, but I am usually more impressed by their abilities than their meaning. Matt breaks that pattern quite decidedly. The level of expression and meaning in his performances is exceedingly impressive. We at Strings By Mail are very proud to support Matt by our sponsorship and look forward to the fulfillment that others will experience as they discover this fine young artist of the classical guitar.
-John Wunsch, President | Strings By Mail

Matt Palmer has appeared as a soloist throughout the United States, Europe, Mexico, Canada, South America, and the Caribbean. A recent recipient of the "Up and Coming Guitarist of the Year" award by Guitar International Magazine, Matt has been described by critics as "a young artist about to make a real dent in the world of classical guitar" ( Premier Guitar Magazine ), "highly expressive and technically virtuosic" ( Modern Guitars Magazine ), "a truly accomplished and refined musician" ( Cleveland Classical ), and "one of the world’s best guitar players" ( The Royal Gazette ). An active performer, winner of numerous guitar competitions, and author of The Virtuoso Guitarist method, Matt Palmer has gained worldwide recognition as a virtuosic and soulful concert artist.

His numerous CD and DVD recordings have been applauded by Guitar International Magazine as "of the highest quality…with flawless technique, deep levels of personal expression, and an artistic integrity that seems far too rare these days." Classical Voice of North Carolina proclaims Matt’s "positively nuclear" recordings display "stunning precision and unwavering accuracy enclosed in a huge dynamic envelope." In addition, Matt’s pioneering guitar method, The Virtuoso Guitarist , has been recognized as a valuable addition to guitar pedagogy, and "indispensable for any advanced guitarist or teacher to include in their library" (Classical Guitar Review) .

Matt Palmer has collaborated with many important composers to write new music for the guitar, and has premiered and recorded over three hours of new works by Tanya Anisimova, Rafael Scarfullery, Sergei Rudnev, Giuseppe Torrisi, Roger Hudson, Olga Amelkina-Vera, Lane Harder, Konstantin Vassiliev, Itamar Erez, Holly Gwin, and Fedor Kondenko. Matt Palmer holds the Doctor of Musical Arts degree from The University of Arizona, where he studied with Thomas Patterson and Artists-in-Residence David Russell, Sergio Assad, and Odair Assad. In demand as a performer, his recent concert engagements have taken him to venues such as Carnegie Hall, Shakespeare Theatre, Benaroya Hall, The Guitar Foundation of America International Convention, numerous universities, guitar societies, and dozens of international guitar festivals throughout the world. Matt is the Director of Guitar Studies at Washington College in Chestertown, Maryland, and Coordinator of the Eastern Shore Guitar Festival and Workshop. Matt Palmer is a Strings By Mail sponsored artist and plays D’Addario strings. Matt plays a handmade guitar by luthier Michael Thames.

Gohar Vardanyan

Gohar Vardanyan

I recognized the fine talent of Gohar the first time I heard her and came to know her as a very special musical soul over the 10 years I have known her. In addition to her obvious talent she brings a very special joy to music in performance and in the master classes she teaches. It is indeed an honor to support Gohar's career by our sponsorship.
-John Wunsch, President | Strings By Mail

"Gohar Vardanyan performs with a genuine passion and virtuosity that is engaging and compelling." ~ Sharon Isbin

"With her flawless technique, natural musicality and gorgeous sound Gohar Vardanyan is undoubtly one of the most talented young guitarists I had ever had the pleasure to teach. It is only a matter of time before the entire guitar world will be speaking of her." ~Antigoni Goni

Armenian guitarist Gohar Vardanyan has performed throughout the United States for numerous guitar societies, universities, and arts organizations, including the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, DC, Alice Tully Hall at Lincoln Center, and the Grand Canyon, Sierra Nevada, and New England Guitar Societies. She has appeared on National Public Radio on the program “From the Top.” Ms. Vardanyan has also performed with the Juilliard Opera Center and as a soloist with the Great Lakes Chamber Orchestra. Guitar International Magazine has described her as “the complete package,” “with a musicality and emotional quality . . . that one would expect from someone much older than the young wunderkind. Not only is she able to draw you into her performances with engaging musical interpretations, but she has the technical facility that is required of any concert level guitarist.” Her playing has been described as “passionate,” “evocative,” and “virtuosic.”

Ms. Vardanyan began studying the guitar in her native Armenia at the age of five under the careful guidance of her father, Vardan Vardanyan. At the age of eight, she gave her first public performance and also appeared on Armenian National Television. She was the first prize winner in the Armenian National Music Contest “Amadeus” and was accepted into the prestigious group, “New Names,” for talented young musicians. She performed in numerous concert venues in Armenia, including Komitas Chamber Music Hall and the Small Philharmonic Hall. She went on to study with Antigoni Goni at the Pre-College Division of the Juilliard School. In 2001, Ms. Vardanyan studied with John Wunsch at the Interlochen Arts Academy. She was awarded the Young Artist's Certificate from Interlochen Center for the Arts and the Harold Randolph Prize in performance from the Peabody Conservatory.

Ms. Vardanyan holds a Master of Music Degree from The Juilliard School where she studied with Sharon Isbin, and a Bachelor of Music degree from the Peabody Conservatory of Music where she studied with Manuel Barrueco. She is also an alumna of the Aspen Music Festival and School.

Irene Gómez

Irene Gomez

I had been aware of Irene and her artistry for some time, but when I had the opportunity hear her performances of some of the unique South American repertoire she champions, she distinguished herself as a guitarist of importance. Her powerful yet sensitive performance skills provide incisive and moving interpretations and we at Strings By Mail are proud be a part of the contribution she is making to the world of music and culture.
-John Wunsch, President | Strings By Mail

Classical Guitarist Irene Gómez was first guitarist graduated in the National University in her home land Bogota, Colombia. She was awarded the master of music at the Julliard School where she studied under Sharon Isbin. She holds the Gold Medal in Guitar and Chamber music from Claude Debussy Conservatoire in France. Her high interpretative qualities on the guitar have been praised by prestigious magazines like Soundboard and Classical Guitar Magazine. She has released four CDs: Sunset Guitar (2000), En los bosques (2004), Images (2006) Estudios and Fantasias para Guitarra (2010).

Irene currently shares her time between her worldwide concert career, recording, and teaching at the Conservatory of Music at the National University of Colombia. She has toured in Europe and USA where she has performed as a soloist and as chamber musician in cities such as Paris, Metz, Dijon, Bergerac, Basel, Liestal, Brno, Olomouc, New York, Washington, Chicago, Dallas, Erie Pa., Caracas and Bogotá, among others.

Raphaella Smits

Raphaella Smitts

Clearly one of the most important artists of her generation Raphaella Smits quickly became a favorite of mine through her fabulous technique and the unparalleled beauty of the expression delivered in every phrase of her playing. It is with great pride that we welcome Raphaella to our group of sponsored artists.
-John Wunsch, President | Strings By Mail

Raphaella Smits plays worldwide in her unique way on eight-string guitars and historical instruments. Recognized as ‘an uncommonly musical guitarist’ (Tim Page, New York Times), she always commits to the soul of the music. Her solo recitals as well as her performances with the most distinguished colleagues always meet enthusiastic audiences and press.

Besides stage-work Raphaella Smits has made 5 LP's and since 1986 for Accent Records 12 CD's, many of them being listed as indispensable to refined music lovers. Raphaella Smits is internationally praised as an inspiring teacher for both guitar and chamber music. In addition to her chair at the Lemmens Institute in Belgium, she regularly gives master-classes in West and East Europe, in North and South America and in Japan.

Organizers of international music competitions ask Raphaella as a member of the jury because of her ability to listen and to judge so accurately. Here again she shows her talent to combine professional skills with a great sense of empathy. Raphaella studied classical music at the Royal Conservatories of Antwerp and Brussels. She also went to José Tomàs to perfect her playing at the "Catedra Andrès Segovia" in Spain. At that time she was giving her first recitals and became a persuasive advocate of the eight-string guitar. In 1986 Raphaella Smits was the first woman to win the first prize of the "XX Certamen Internacional de Guitarra Francisco Tarrega", the famous international guitar competition in Benicasim, Spain. That victory confirmed the progress of a successful career, which over the previous years had included prizes in the Granada and Palma de Mallorca contests.

Chairmen Andrès Segovia and Narciso Yepes, both expressed their admiration for Raphaella's musicality and put prophetically confidence in her future achievements. Today Raphaella Smits is called quite rightly ‘une Grande Musicienne’ and ‘one of the most delicate and most cultivated performers of our time’. (Jean Bernard, Diapason, FR)

Livio Gianola

Livio Gianola

We are very proud to have Livio as a new member of our artist roster. We were initially extremely impressed by Livio's Flamenco sensibilities and skills and felt he added a new side to our artist roster. But in the process of establishing our relationship we have been thrilled to realize the depth and diversity of his compositional abilities and the excellence of his virtuosic performance skills in a variety of contemporary styles of performance on the classical guitar.

From writing for the prestigious Ballet National de Espana and writing for cinema and theater to performing as a solo artist and with his ensemble in venues such as Foro Popular in Barcelona and the Bienal de Flamenco of Seville, he is a a force for the composition and performance of beautiful music. His works range from settings for solo guitar to settings for guitar orchestras and guitar with orchestra.

Strings By Mail is proud to be a part of helping his music touch more of the world's ears.
-John Wunsch, President | Strings By Mail

Livio plays on RC Strings LG80 8 string guitar strings.

"Livio Gianola puts in the palette the colors of flamenco and Latin America to create a colorful and evocative score."
-Julio Bravo from about "Cupaima"

"A febrile musical performance of high quality and intensity."
- Daily Times, Tokyo

PD Guitar Duo

PD Guitar Duo

Strings By Mail has long appreciated and sponsored the wonderfully unique work of the Petar Jankovic Ensemble, so it was no surprise to us when his collaboration with Daniel Duarte created yet another ensemble that presents the great works of the guitar we are all familiar with in a bright and engaging new light. This combination of 2 internationally award winning guitarists brings virtuosity, energy, and sensitivity to the stage in ample portions.

Creatively adding compositional material and arranging enhancements to great works by composers from Albeniz to Bellinati could be a risky endeavor, but these artists have done great justice in their resetting of some of the greatest master works of the guitar. The team at Strings By Mail is excited to know we are a part of this creative and forceful endeavor.

-John Wunsch, President | Strings By Mail

"Young guitarist and director, Daniel Duarte is obviously a gifted musician and arranger, with a sensitive feel for how to mesh the classical guitar with music not always written for the instrument or in need of special handling."
– Peter Jacobi, Music Critic at Herald Times, Indiana

"Jankovic is one of the finest soloists on the scene today, and he possesses a unique, artistic, and a highly expressive style."
– Brad Conroy, Music Critic at

Cim Frode

Cim Frode Guitar

We learned about Cim through his videos and were taken by his music and by his persona. He is a serious musician with a bright spirit what we are proud to have in our family of artists.

As a young steel string player following in the footsteps of great acoustic artists that have come before him, we know that he will be making an ever evolving contribution for years to come. Cim Frode is a contemporary fingerstyle guitarist from Sweden. He has won several renowned artist grants and tours frequently playing both fingerstyle and classical music.

He started to play classical guitar in his teenage years and studied classical music in College. Later on he discovered fingerstyle guitar and his ability to write tasteful guitar music.

As a composer his songs are fluent and rich in color with various rhythmic patterns. He takes influences from different kinds of musical genres. You can hear inspiration from different kind of folk music throughout the world especially Argentinian and Brazilian music.

As of now he studies towards his masters degree in fingerstyle guitar in Piteå Music University of fine arts in Sweden.

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Stoll Vaughan

Stoll Vaughan Guitar

Stoll caught my eye as a 16 year old singer song writer auditioning for my Interlochen Arts Academy guitar studio in the early 90's and the promise he showed at that time has come to fruition in his many successes as a songwriter.

Hearing his music on the John Mellancamp & John Fogerty “Words and Music” tour and in productions as diverse as True Blood, The Office, and David Lynch's Interview Project has been a rewarding experience.

The truth and emotion he brings to his music are supported by the high production level of his recordings and honesty of his performances. I look forward to sharing his talents and knowledge as a Strings By Mail sponsored artist.

-John Wunsch, President | Strings By Mail

Adam del Monte

Adam Del Monte Guitar

I invited Adam to be a guest artist at my Interlochen Guitar Festival in 2010 because I knew he was one of the few artists who played both the flamenco style and classical style on the highest level. What I had not expected was the amazing creativity he embodied. His work since then bears irrefutable testament to that fact. From flamenco concertos to flamenco operas and LAGQ commissions, he continues to add rich value to the guitar canon, and we are proud to count him as an SBM sponsored artist.

-John Wunsch, President | Strings By Mail

One of the leading flamenco and classical guitarist/composers of his generation, Adam del Monte has made it his life mission to fully express himself in these two genres, transcending labeling and convention. Always having incorporated a wide array of musical styles in his compositions, del Monte and has embarked on a journey creating a unique sound and language of flamenco that is both steeped in tradition and progressive in its openness to musical flavors from around the world.

Del Monte has recorded for Deutsche Gramophone – the featured flamenco guitar part in the double Grammy award winning opera Ainadamar by Osvaldo Golijov (2006), with soprano Dawn Upshaw and the Atlanta Symphony, conducted by Robert Spano. Since then he has toured this opera in, Carnegie Hall, NY, Lincoln Center, NY, Barbican Center, London, Colorado Music Festival, in Boulder, Chicago Symphony and many more.

Del Monte has recently composed a first of its kind Flamenco Opera. Llantos, is an opera that is a full integration of the flamenco and classical/operatic world in all aspects, including orchestral, aesthetic, stylistic and rhythmic. Llantos will be debuted on September 29th and 30th 2018 at the Redondo Beach Performing Arts Center, in Los Angeles.

Del Monte has composed his second flamenco guitar concerto, Paisajes, which was debuted and commissioned by the St. Monica Symphony. He has since performed it with the Moscow State Symphony in Tchaikovsky Hall and the Simon Bolivar Symphony Orchestra, in Caracas, Venezuela.

He has also recorded Avner’s Theme by film composer John Williams for the sound track CD of the motion picture Munich by Steven Spielberg. Other film credits include featured participations in Films such as Knight and Day with Tom Cruise and Cameron Diaz; Mr. and Mrs. Smith with Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie, music by John Powell and Toy Story 3, music by Randy Newman.

For more information on Adam’s extensive career highlights please visit Adam’s website.

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Vince Carrola

Vince Carrola

Young classical guitarist Vince Carrola is pushing the boundaries of the guitar, taking the instrument to places it’s never been before. Hailed through YouTube as connecting the generations through his music, Vince is breaking down the barriers between different genres of music, connecting fans of classical, pop, rock, and film music alike.

Vince has introduced new audiences to the guitar by arranging and performing songs from bands such as Led Zeppelin, Lynyrd Skynyrd, and Deep Purple, proving that the classical guitar can rock out. He’s also arranged such masterful film scores as Jurassic Park, Lord of the Rings, and Star Wars for guitar, all the while carving out a new genre of guitar music. In 2015, he completed the transcription and arrangement of Gustav Holst’s Mars, the Bringer of War, in it’s entirety, for a guitar orchestra.

At four, Vince received his first guitar. At twelve, he began to study classically, entering numerous competitions, including a young artist national concerto competition in which he was a finalist and played the first movement from Joaquin Rodrigo’s Concerito de Aranjuez. He also attended, and even instructed, a performance development class at a local college, becoming a recipient of a prestigious classical guitar scholarship.

An active performer, Vince has performed collectively for 5,000 people at one venue. He also actively writes for the guitar repertoire. In 2011, Vince published his first book of guitar arrangements through Alfred Music Publishing, entitled, This Holy Night, 12 Christmas Classics for Guitar. Seven more books followed between 2012-2014. His arrangements, and studio recordings, have been sought out worldwide by guitar orchestras, ensembles, soloists, and amateurs.

Luke Winslow-King

Luke Winslow-King

I first time I heard Luke play he was a 17-year-old applicant to Interlochen Arts Academy and it was obvious he was a natural when it came to the blues. Between witnessing an amazing year of growth as my student, and hearing of his activities in the coming years, I knew he was on the path to an important career.

-John Wunsch, President | Strings By Mail

His richly varied path has only deepened the well he draws from for his music His center may be the blues, but his musical experiences runs from mentoring developmentally disabled students in creating and performing original songs to writing music with string ensembles.

He is indeed the kind of man and musician we love to partner with at Strings By Mail.

Davisson Duo

Davisson Duo

The Davisson duo came to our attention a number of years ago. Their performance skills were considerable at a young age and the quality of their videos was impressive.

We featured one of their videos under our occasional featured customer video series and kept our eyes on their work. It was with their video titled Petrichor that they fully captured our imagination. We were extremely pleased when they accepted our invitation to join our roster of sponsored artists last fall, and even more pleased when we realized, they had each already won a GFA youth competition. So they bring to the table not only a wonderful ensemble but two fine solo artists. We are also excited to offer their debut CD titled La Vida Breve.

-John Wunsch, President | Strings By Mail

The Davisson Duo is comprised of classical guitarists Elle (age 15) and Jack (age 18). Jack and Elle study with Christopher Mallett at the California Conservatory of Music and play guitars by American Luthier Glenn Canin. Jack and Elle are proud to be sponsored by Strings By Mail and D'Addario.

Please learn more about these highly talented young people at their website.

Or for more solo and duo guitar music by the Davisson siblings follow them here:
Instagram |
Facebook |
YouTube |

Jack Cimo

Jack Cimo

Jack first came to our attention when Strings By Mail got involved with a major benefit that he organized and performed in. It was a concert for the community of Paradise, CA along with a memorial concert for the victims of the Dixie Fire. When we realized he was not only a caring and giving human being, but also a talented and driven artist, we knew he would be a fit at Strings By Mail.

-John Wunsch, President | Strings By Mail

As a classical guitarist Jack is known for his powerful stage presence, beautiful tone, and exciting renditions. He frequently plays solo recitals and as a soloist with orchestra, recently playing the “Concierto de Aranjuez” with the Santa Maria Philharmonic. He was one of two Americans invited to the prestigious Joann Falletta International Guitar Concerto Competition in Buffalo, NY.

Conductor Jane Brown said of his playing, “Mr. Cimo plays with expressive depth, great feeling, and brilliant virtuosity. His performance of the Rodrigo ‘Concierto de Aranjuez’ was a season favorite that our audience and musicians are still discussing in appreciation and awe.” He also frequently performs with various chamber music ensembles and is dedicated to contemporary music.

His album Jack Cimo Plays Bach, Bogdanovic, Walton, and Arnold has earned accolades. Composer Dusan Bogdanovic said of the recording of his ‘Rainforest Canticles’, “It’s terrific! It’s definitely the best recording of the piece, very inspired, precise and expressive.”

Jack has brought guitar to new audiences around the globe and believes in using his talent to help those in need. In addition to the benefit concerts where we met he has done many volunteer performances at Chicago area hospitals, and organized and played Christmas concerts for the homeless at A Safe Haven Foundation. and has done performances to aid the Standing Rock Protesters and Cardiac Care patients in Chicago.

Jack studied classical guitar in William Kanengiser’s studio at USC’s Thornton School of Music, and with the legendary Pepe Romero. He recently completed a Master’s course in Music Performance and Interpretation in Palermo, Italy, with Lorenzo Micheli, Jérémy Jouve and Gilbert Imperial at MARTHA – Music, ART, House, Academy.

In 2022 Jack directed and played in the prestigious California International Guitar Festival. The Festival was held at Cal Poly University, San Luis Obispo, and included artists such as Ana Vidovic, Pepe Romero, and more.

Jack is also a sponsored artist for the2Mic. For more information visit Jack’s website.

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