SICILY, ITALY - JUNE 8th-12th, 2018
with Mike Marshall, Caterina Lichtenberg
and Peppino D'Agostino, Alison Burns and James Taylor
Personal Note from Mike Marshall
This retreat means so much to me. The idea of bringing our Mandolin Retreat to Sicily? This is a dream come true!

This is the country of the instrument I love so much. It is the country of my heart. But it is also the country where my ancestors came from! Yes.  My mother’s side came from Abruzzi and my father's from Napoli. (the name Marshall was originally Marchiariello? Mom’s was DiCioccio. So to be able to create our event in the mother land? This is something truly special.

Italy is the country where dreams become reality, where fantasies come true. Where you re-live history just by walking down a narrow little street. We will make magic happen in this beautiful place. So full of beauty. So much culture around every corner. And don’t EVEN get me started about the food. Mama Mia!

To bring the mandolin back to my forefather’s homeland and enjoy the beauty of the place and taste all that it has to offer and to be there with Caterina and our family and all of you? Well…. I have to call this the sweet life.

Thank you James, Donna and all of YOU for making this dream come true.

Bella Vita!

- Mike
Mandolin players of all levels and styles are welcome at the Global Mandolin Retreat on the gorgeous island of Ortigia in Sicily, Italy. Whether you’ve been playing for years, or you just know a couple of tunes, you'll be able to immerse yourself in learning mandolin at this four day mandolin retreat with two of the world's leading mandolinists; Mike Marshall and Caterina Lichtenberg. 

From bluegrass to jazz to classical and more, Mike and Caterina will give you insight into the techniques, styles, and tips to inspire and improve your playing. The retreat is designed to gather mandolinists of all levels from around the globe with a common goal - learning, playing, eating and sleeping music.

This is the first Global Mandolin Retreat in Italy, the home of the mandolin! Don’t miss this chance to spend a few days with Mike, Caterina and the team as they share their love of this historic and beautiful island of Sicily, home to some of the world's best foods, wines and landscapes. What could be better than a musical holiday where you really learn something and have a great time with like-minded people?

The Global Mandolin Retreat will take place on the island of Ortigia which is the historical heart of Siracusa in southeast Sicily, on the 8th-12th June 2018. The area is about an hour from the international airport of Catania which is easily accessible from the US and the rest of Europe as well as other Italian cities including Rome, Florence and Milan.

During the day you'll learn directly with Mike and Caterina and every evening you can sit back with an Italian wine and enjoy local handmade delicacies and take part in intimate, once-in-a-lifetime jam sessions. Just bring your mandolin get ready to learn, jam, make friends and have fun!
What Is The Global Mandolin Retreat About?
The Global Mandolin Retreats are all about hands-on playing.  This retreat is about helping you achieve REAL RESULTS and having fun in the process.
Improved Technique
Improve your technique and gain a new level of confidence as a mandolinist.
Learn Multiple Styles
You'll be exposed to different styles and techniques to develop your mandolin playing.
New Inspiration
Get inspiration from, and jam with mandolinists from around the world. 
Progress In Your Playing
You'll learn plenty of new exercises to continue to make progress in your playing.
Learn New Tunes
During the Retreat you'll learn new tunes to add to your repertoire. 
Participate In Live Performances
Opportunity to perform on stage with Mike, Caterina and other retreat attendees.

All Workshops
Over 20 hours of mandolin workshops with Mike Marshall, Caterina Lichtenberg and their guest teachers.
Amazing Food and Wine
Join Mike, Caterina and mandolinists from around the world for wonderful Italian meals each day and night.
Evening Jam Sessions
Pick up your mandolin and take part in once in a lifetime jam sessions.
Faculty Performances
Sit back and enjoy intimate performances from Mike Marshall and Caterina Lichtenberg.
Welcome Goodie Bag   
Receive a welcome goodie bag when you arrive at the retreat.              
Finale Concert
Join Mike and Caterina on stage to play for a live audience (optional)

You will also receive 40+ HD Video Lessons from James Taylor as he breaks down each of the five stages of the creative process to help you unlock your creative potential as a mandolinist.
This online course will teach you how to improve the quality of your voice, warmup exercises and ways to look after your singing voice.
What They Say...
The Global Mandolin Retreats are legendary! Here's what one recent retreat student said:

"Besides being phenomenal musicians and teachers - Mike and Caterina project an atmosphere of genuine openness and sense of presence with each student interaction. The vibe is very warm, inclusive and real."
The Location - Sicily, Italy

Ortigia, a small island off the city of Siracusa, in the South-East region of Sicily, is a year round Italian destination boasting a unique location and timeless beauty encircled by the sea. Called the 'White Pearl of Syracuse', Ortigia is ideal as a base to explore the cultural richness of the region or as a stand-alone short break to immerse in the wonderful ambience, gastronomy and archaeological treasures that are found around every corner.

The charm of Ortigia is also its mix of styles: remnants of Ancient Greek ruins are interspersed near dazzling Baroque piazzas that are fed by a labyrinth of Medieval lanes containing physical evidence of early Moorish, Roman, Byzantine, and Judaic civilizations. The entire small island of Ortigia island is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.


The Retreat Hub - Residence Hotel 'Alla Giudecca'

The main hotel and gathering spot for our retreat will be the Residence Hotel "Alla Giudecca", which is centrally located in Ortigia, next to the sea, and a few minutes stroll to all the local sites and piazzas.

​​​​​​​The hotel is an ancient building completely restored that has on its premises traces of an underground Jewish ritual bath dating back to the 13th century. 

Bluegrass, Brazilian and Jazz Mandolin
Mike Marshall is one of the world’s most accomplished and versatile string instrumentalists in America today. In 2014 he was nominated for a Grammy Award for his recording with the Turtle Island Quartet in the ‘Classical Compendium’ category. 

Mike is indeed a living compendium of musical styles. A master of mandolin, guitar, mandocello and violin, he has created some of the most adventurous and interesting instrumental music on over 40 recordings to date that seamlessly blend his American roots background with a deep understanding of Brazilian, European classical and folks styles and American jazz and pop music.

Mike cut his teeth on traditional American music in Florida with his own teenage bluegrass band, but by age 19 he was snatched up by the San Francisco based David Grisman Quintet to tour and record with  jazz violin legend Stephane Grappelli, Tony Rice, Darol Anger and Mark O’Connor.

Since then Mike has gone on to form these groundbreaking ensembles,  The Montreux Band with Michael Manring,  Darol Anger, Andy Narell and Barbara Higbie, The Modern Mandolin Quartet,  Psychograss with David Grier, Tony Trishka and Todd Phillips,  New Grange with Tim Obrien, Allison Brown and Phil Aaberg and  The Big Trio with Paul Kowert and Alex Hargreaves.

Whether performing new acoustic music with Edgar Meyer, Bela Fleck or Chris Thile, Brazilian choro music with Hamilton de Holanda or Baroque classical music with his partner, German mandolin virtuoso Caterina Lichtenberg, Mike is able to swing gracefully between all of those musical worlds with a unique blend of virtuosity and musical integrity that is rare in todays cross-cultural musical world.

As a mandolin educator Mike has become committed to passing on his knowledge through a variety of channels. In 2004 he founded the Mandolin Symposium at the Univ of CA in Santa Cruz with partner David Grisman. In 2012 his long time dream of a seminar for the brightest young virtuosos of today was realized when he founded the Acoustic Music Seminar at the Savannah Music Festival.

Mike now also heads The Mike Marshall School of Mandolin through the ArtistWorks educational company where he is teaching hundreds of mandolinists from around the world.

He has also published over 6 books on mandolin technique and has several video instruction DVDs out on the Homespun label.

Classical Mandolin
Caterina Lichtenberg is one of the most important classical mandolinists in the world today. Raised in Germany, Caterina graduated with highest honors from the Music Conservatory in Cologne. She now holds the position of Professor of Classical mandolin/soprano lute at that prestigious institution. (The only mandolin professor position in the world today).

For over 20 years Caterina has been recording, teaching and touring throughout Europe, Japan, Taiwan, South America, Canada and the U.S. to rave reviews.

In January of 2016 Caterina was signed to the Artist Works online teaching school as the classical mandolin teacher.

Mrs. Lichtenberg’s collaboration with American mandolinist Mike Marshall brought together two of the greatest mandolinists in the world. Their debut recording in 2010 blurred the lines between their classical, jazz, bluegrass and Brazilian musical backgrounds.

As a featured soloist Mr. Lichtenberg has performed with the New Century Orchestra under Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg, the LA Guitar Quartet, the Brandenburgisches Staatsorchester Frankfurt, Germany under Diego Fasolis and the Aachen Chamber Orchestra.

She has also had concerts with the Dresden Symphony Orchestra, the MDR Orchestra under Fabio Luisi, the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra under Riccardo Chailly, the MDR Sinfonie Orchestra under Howard Arman, the Radio Symphony Orchestra of Berlin and the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra under Lorin Maazel, with Brigitte Engelhard (harpsichord), Thomas Mueller-Pering (guitar) and with Art Garfunkel on live German TV. 

She has also been a juror and a sought after lecturer at the The Mandolin Symposium in Santa Cruz CA (USA), the European Plucked String Orchestra in Logroño (Spain) and Bologna (Italy),  The International Mandolin Festival in Kobe (Japan), The International Mandolin Convention in Washington and Minneapolis (USA), The Domaine Forget Music and Dance Academy (Canada), The Guitar Festival in Nürtingen, The Swannanoa Gathering in Asheville, North Carolina (USA), and The International  Mandolin Convention in San Diego CA (USA) 

Caterina has also published her own instructional books and filmed two DVD videos for the Homespun music education company.
She currently lives part time in both Germany and California.
Guitar Teacher

D'Agostino, a native of Italy, has been hailed as “a guitarist's guitarist” by Acoustic Guitar magazine as well as “a giant of the acoustic guitar” (San Diego Reader). This year Guitar Player magazine included D'Agostino in their top 50 list of the best acoustic guitar players of all time. His Peppino D'Agostino Seagull Signature Guitar model was named in June 2014 as one of the 10 best signature guitars by Guitar Player Magazine.

D’Agostino has performed in more than 31 countries; been featured at prestigious international music festivals, and frequently plays with prominent artists around the world, including Tommy Emmanuel, Leo Kottke, Martin Taylor, and Eric Johnson. His 18 recordings include releases on Favored Nations, Mesa/Bluemoon, Acoustic Music Records, and other labels.

When not performing D’Agostino also enjoys teaching. He has made various teaching videos, has individual students, and through the years has been a guest instructor at various guitar programs such as Creative Vacances in La Moreau, France, Acoustic Alaska Guitar Camp, Swannanoa Gathering, and Guitar Workshop Plus. Truefire, an online instruction company, has released two courses in which D’Agostino explains his influential guitar techniques and approach to composition. One thing is true – Peppino is always thinking guitar.

Creativity Coach
James Taylor M.B.A. F.R.S.A. is a speaker, author, coach and internationally recognized leader in creativity and the music business. For over 20 years, he has been teaching entrepreneurs, educators, writers and musicians how to maximize, monetize and market their creativity. As the founder of C.SCHOOL™ and host of The Creative Life Podcast and TV Show, he’s taught thousands of individuals in over 120 countries through his online courses, books, videos and keynote speeches.

His corporate clients have included Apple, Yamaha, Sony, Bertelsmann and Johnson & Johnson as well as high profile 1-on-1 coaching clients. As an in-demand creativity expert, he has been featured in countless media outlets and was the subject of a 30 minute BBC documentary about his life and work.

Recognized as a leading authority on creativity, innovation and marketing, James is the recipient of The Modern ONTRApreneur Award, the S.D. Southern Award and also holds a Masters in Business Administration (M.B.A.). He is also a Fellow of the Royal Society of the Arts (F.R.S.A.) whose Fellows have included Benjamin Franklin, Sir Tim Berners-Lee, Bob Dylan, Adam Smith, Nelson Mandela and Professor Stephen Hawking.

Vocal Coach
Alison Burns is an award-winning singer and vocal coach who has performed and run singing workshops in the USA, Europe and Asia.

A lifelong love of music started at home, with an early education in the Great American Songbook from a father who played guitar and a mother who would carry the guitar case into his gigs! As a young girl in Dundee, an industrial city on the east coast of Scotland, the dreams were of singing and acting in Hollywood and the soundtrack was Peggy Lee, Lena Horne, and Bessie Smith among many others. 

Her debut album, Kissing Bug was received with universal acclaim and became the first album by a Scottish jazz singer to reach the Jazz Top 10. So far she has packed her bag to perform in far-flung destinations such as Tokyo, New York, Nashville, Cannes, Italy and Shanghai.

The International Association for Jazz Education has awarded her for Outstanding Service to Jazz Education and in 2013 she received the Brand Personality Award by the Asia Pacific Brands Foundation, previous recipients of this award include Aretha Franklin and Steve Jobs.
"Most excellent and inspiring weekend. Didn't know that I could learn so much in so short a time and only dismayed by how much is left to learn. The education process never stops when done correctly I suppose. Mike, Caterina and everyone involved with providing this weekend are the best, and I'll be back."
"How fortunate to have the opportunity to learn directly from such renowned musicians as Mike and Caterina! The retreat was well organized by thorough and caring people, with a good series of classes and many opportunities to play. The intimate setting allowed me to make new friends, and the public performance was a great finish to the amazing weekend!"
"Most excellent and inspiring weekend. Didn't know that I could learn so much in so short a time and only dismayed by how much is left to learn. The education process never stops when done correctly I suppose. Mike, Caterina and everyone involved with providing this weekend are the best, and I'll be back."
"What a fun weekend! Learning directly from the two greatest mandolin players in the world - Caterina and Mike - is inspiring and nurtures us to grow as musicians. The beautiful concerts, the opportunities to connect through our music and play together, the food, and the nice people created an enjoyable experience. We look forward to the next retreat. Thank you so much."
"A highly immersive and entertaining learning experience. I didn't want to leave! Mike and Caterina are warm and generous teachers and their mandolin performances sprinkled throughout alone were worth the trip -- and the opportunity to work on singing and the creativity workshop were very helpful. Plus exposure to orchestra performance! Highly recommended -- I plan to attend again."


Improve your technique and gain a new confidence as a mandolinist
Plenty of exercises to continue to make progress in your playing
New tunes for your repertoire including Italian and classical music.
Bluegrass soloing, Brazilian Choro and Classical styles
Jazz mandolin improvisation
Rhythm mandolin techniques
Provisional Schedule

Friday, June 8th 2018
3:00 pm - 3:30 pm Students Arrive
3:30 pm - 4:30 pm Opening Session
4:30 pm - 6:00 pm Workshop I
7:00 pm - 8:30 pm Dinner
9:00 pm - 11:00 pm Evening Jam/Open Mic

Saturday, June 9th 2018
8:00 am - 9:30 am Breakfast
9:30 am – 10:45 am Workshop II
11:00 am -12:30 pm Workshop  III
1:00 pm -  4:00 pm Lunch and Free Time
4:00 pm –  5:30 pm Workshop IV
​5:45 pm -  6:45 pm Workshop V 
8:00 pm -  9:30 pm Dinner
10:00 pm - 11:30 pm Evening Jam/Open Mic

Sunday, June 10th 2018
8:00 am - 9:30 am Breakfast
9:30 am – 10:45 am Workshop VI
11:00 am - 12:30 pm Workshop  VII
1:00 pm - 4:00 pm Lunch and Free Time
4:00 pm – 5:30 pm Workshop VIII
​5:45 pm - 6:45 pm Workshop IX 
8:00 pm - 9:30 pm Dinner
10:00 pm - 11:30 pm Evening Jam/Open Mic

Monday, June 11th 2018
8:00 am - 9:30 am Breakfast
9:30 am – 10:45 am Workshop X
11:00 am - 12:30 pm Workshop XI
1:00 pm - 3:00 pm Lunch and Free Time
3:00 pm – 4:45 pm Workshop XII
5:00 pm - 5:30 pm Wrap-Up
7:00 pm - 8:30 pm Dinner
9:30 pm - 11:00 pm Optional Performance

Tuesday, June 12th 2018
8:00 am - 9:30 am Breakfast

Why Not Bring Your Partner
If you would like to have your loved one join you at the retreat but not participate in workshops, we recommend this package. You both dine together with the group for all meals, and attend all evening concerts and jams together. During the days, while one of you is participating in workshops, your partner can enjoy the fun things to do in the Ortigia and Siracusa area.  Our on-site local guides can help plan and recommend day trips and special excursions for partners during the day - and even for the two of you if you extend your trip before or after the retreat.

So here's how to register your partner. Firstly register yourself. Then come back to this page and click on the non-participating partner package button and make this a music and culture adventure both of you can enjoy.
Frequently Asked Questions

Q. When does the retreat take place?

A. The retreat classes run from the afternoon of Friday 8th June to the morning of Tuesday 12th June.

Q. Where does the retreat take place?

A. The retreat classes will take place at the Residence Hotel 'Alla Giudecca'. Upon registration you will receive a Fact Sheet with location information. Six weeks before the retreat you will receive the final retreat schedule.

Q. What is the cost?

A. The cost per participant is US$2749 and US$499 for non-participating partners.

Q. Do you have a payment plan available?

A. Yes, we have a 3 pay option if you'd like to spread the cost over three months. You can select this option on the payment page. Cancelation anytime after 30 days from initial payment does not refund previous months charges. 

Q. Can my partner attend even though they won't participate in the classes.

A. Absolutely, non-participating partners are very welcome and the price per non-participating partner is $499 which can be purchased at the link below. Partners may also sit in on a workshop session or two as long as there is adequate space in the room. Click HERE to purchase a Partner Package.

Q. What is your cancellation policy?

A. You can receive a full refund minus any credit card fees within the first 30 days of booking. Please consider getting travel insurance to cover unexpected occurrences.

Q. What about accommodation?

A. Registration includes your accommodation at the Residence Hotel 'Alla Giudecca' or a nearby residence hotel. The Residence Hotel "Alla Giudecca", which will be our main retreat gathering place, is located in the historic center of Ortigia island, in the heart of the old Jewish Quarter, next to the sea (with access to a swimming platform), and the major Piazza Duomo a few minutes away.  The Hotel, simple yet tastefully restored, is an ancient building that respects the history and architectural origins of this beautiful mediterranean location. Underneath the hotel hides the jewel of the oldest Jewish ritual bath in Europe.  The courtyards have an Arabic atmosphere, that improve the spaces of the facility and in the main building there is a conference room, reading room, and piano room available for your use.  A continental breakfast will be served at the hotel each morning for all workshop participants and their partners.  

Q. What about meals?
A. Your registration includes four Continental Breakfasts, three Lunches, and four Dinners during the retreat.

Q. Who can I contact if I have other questions related to the retreat?

A. Please email

Q. Can you accommodate those with dietary issues?

A. We are happy to cater for people with diet issues. Vegetarian, vegans and basic diet requirements are included in the price - just let us know at

Q. Are the retreat venues suitable for those with mobility issues?

A. We are not able to accommodate anyone with severe mobility problems. Please get in touch with to discuss your particular needs.

Q. How do I get there?

A. You can travel to Sicily by air from all over the U.S. and Europe.  Catania (CTA) is the closest international airport.  If you are considering some travel before the workshop, you might take one of the low-cost European airlines from another major city such as Rome, Naples, or London.  Check out or for flight times and costs.  Or if you want to explore Sicily, another option is to arrive at the Palermo Airport (PMO), which is about 3 hours from Ortigia, and take a leisurely sight-seeing route to the retreat with a return from either Catania or back to Palermo.  Upon registration you will receive a Fact Sheet with the various travel options to the hotel once you arrive in Sicily which includes private and shared shuttles as well as public transportation to/from Catania.  

The Premier Music Retreat Experiences
This will be our fourth Music Retreat in beautiful Italy. C.SCHOOL™ also produces music and creativity retreats for artists including Martin Taylor, Sergio Assad, Peppino D'Agostino and Adam Rafferty. Our Italy team is focused on giving you the very best experience in which to learn mandolin.

Other C.SCHOOL retreats take place in London, New York, California, Scotland, France and Asia. We are honored to work with Mike Marshall and Caterina Lichtenberg for this retreat in Italy. We hope you decide to join us for four day days of eating, sleeping, learning and playing music.