© Harald Hoffmann
The words "superstar" and "mandolinist" still look odd next to each other. Yet in the classical world they are starting to be joined with some frequency… Avi Avital who on Wednesday gave a performance of 18th-century Italian concertos at Zankel Hall with the Venice Baroque Orchestra....was nothing short of electric.
- New York Times, March 2015
Acknowledged by The New York Times for his "exquisitely sensitive playing" and "stunning agility", Grammy-nominated mandolinist Avi Avital is one of the world’s most exciting and adventurous musicians. Deeply committed to building a fresh legacy for the mandolin with several new commissions planned for the coming seasons, he is widely admired for his virtuosic performances in classical, world and contemporary genres.
Avi Avital has performed at venues including Wigmore Hall, Carnegie Hall (Weill Hall), Lincoln Center, Berlin Philharmonie, KKL Luzern, Vienna Konzerthaus, Dortmund Konzerthaus, Salle Gaveau, Globe Theatre in London, and the Forbidden City Concert Hall in Beijing and at festivals such as Salzburg, Aspen, Verbier, Montreal Bach, Catagena (Colombia), Tangelwood, Schleswig-Holstein, Rheingau, Spoleto and Ravenna. Amongst his regular collaborators are Andreas Scholl, Giora Feidman, Dawn Upshaw and Richard Galliano and chamber music partners include the Danish, Dover, Enso and Vogler String Quartets.
Avital has released various recordings in the disparate genres of baroque, klezmer and contemporary classical music. He now records exclusively with Deutsche Grammophon and his debut release featured his own transcriptions of J S Bach Concertos for harpsichord and violin. His second disc "Between Worlds" introduced chamber music compositions from Ernest Bloch and De Falla to traditional Turkish and Bulgarian folk tunes and was released in 2014 to critical acclaim. Vivaldi Concertos followed in 2015 with the Venice Baroque Orchestra with whom he embarked on an extensive tour of the USA which continues to Europe and South America in 2015/16.
Highlights of the 2015-16 season include a tour of the Far East with Die Kolner Akademie and concerto performances with the Zurich Tonhalle Orchestra, Deutsche Sinfonie-Orchester, Israel Philharmonic, Calgary Philharmonic, Atlanta Symphony and I Musici di Roma in concertos by Bach, Vivaldi, Hummel, David Bruce and Avner Dorman. He continues his collaborations with Ksenija Sidorova and Itamar Doari (Between Worlds) and in 2016/17 embarks on a new contemporary project with oud/bassist Omer Avital (Avital meets Avital). Recent concerto appearances have also seen him appear as soloist with the Kremerata Baltica, Mahler Chamber Orchestra, Berliner Symphony, Hamburg Symphony, Orchestre National de Montpellier, Kammerakademie Potsdam, Metropolis Ensemble NY and the San Francisco Chamber Orchestra.
Avi Avital is the first mandolin player to receive a GRAMMY nomination in the category "Best Instrumental Soloist" (2010) for his recording of Avner Dorman’s Mandolin Concerto (Metropolis Ensemble/Andrew Cyr). He has won numerous competitions and awards including two ECHO Prizes, one for his 2008 recording with the David Orlowsky Trio and the AVIV Competition, the preeminent national competition for Israeli soloists (2007) and most recently for his Vivaldi Concertos with the Venice Baroque Orchestra (2015).
Born in Be’er Sheva, southern Israel in 1978, he began learning the mandolin at the age of eight and soon joined the flourishing mandolin youth orchestra founded and directed by his charismatic teacher, Russian-born violinist Simcha Nathanson. He later graduated from the Jerusalem Music Academy and the Conservatorio Cesare Pollini in Padova, Italy where he studied the original mandolin repertoire with Ugo Orlandi.