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About Avi Avital
One of the world's most celebrated mandolin players, Avi Avital is an artist who has set out to remake the reputation and repertoire of his instrument in the classical and folk music communities. Avital was born in Be'er Sheva in Southern Israel in 1978. As a child, Avital lived in an apartment building in which his family's upstairs neighbor played the mandolin. Avital became fascinated with the instrument, and when his mother suggested eight-year-old Avi take music lessons, he immediately picked the mandolin. He would later study with violinist Simcha Nathanson, who also led a mandolin orchestra in Be'er Sheva, and went on to attend the Jerusalem Academy of Music, where he also studied with a violinist and learned to transcribe violin pieces for his instrument. Under a grant from the America-Israel Cultural Foundation, Avital also studied at the Cesare Pollini Conservatory of Music in Padua, Italy, and he began composing and researching pieces written with the mandolin in mind, in addition to adapting works composed for other instruments.
In 2010, Avital released his first album as a member of the Metropolis Ensemble, Concertos for Mandolin, Piccolo, Piano and Concerto Grosso, composed by Avner Dorman. He received a Grammy nomination as Best Instrumental Soloist for his performances on the album. Avital next signed a recording contract with the prestigious classical label Deutsche Grammophon; his first album for DG, Bach, a collection of Johann Sebastian Bach pieces adapted for mandolin by Avital, was released in 2012. As Avital began exploring klezmer music and Balkan folk, he incorporated these influences with classical instrumentation on 2014's Between Worlds. He next approached the music of Antonio Vivaldi (whose "Mandolin Concerto" is arguably the most recognized classical work for the instrument) on a 2015 release simply titled Vivaldi. Avital also toured with cellist Yo-Yo Ma as part of his multicultural Silk Road Ensemble project. On the 2017 release Avital Meets Avital, the mandolin virtuoso collaborated with Israeli jazz bassist Omer Avital. ~ Mark Deming