“Much as Andres Segovia brought the classical guitar into the concert hall, the Israeli virtuoso Avi Avital is doing the same with the mandolin.” – Los Angeles Times
“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 was nothing short of electric.” –The New York Times
A pioneering artist and the first mandolin soloist to be nominated for a classical Grammy, Avi Avital has been compared to Andres Segovia for his championship of his instrument and to Jascha Heifitz for his incredible virtuosity. Passionate and “explosively charismatic” (New York Times) in live performance, he is a driving force behind the reinvigoration of the mandolin repertory.
Highlights of the 2022-23 season see performances of Jennifer Higdon, Anna Clyne and Giovanni Sollima Mandolin Concertos commissioned for Avital, alongside tours with the Academy of Saint Martin-in the-Fields, Il Giardiano Armonico/Antonini, B’Rock and Arcangelo, duo recitals with Ksenija Sidorova (accordion), Olga Pashchenko (harpsichord/fortepiano) and Omer Klein (piano), and a tour of Australia with cellist Giovanni Sollima. Avital launches his new venture, the “Between Worlds Ensemble” with a three-part residency at the Boulez-saal in Berlin. The ensemble was formed to explore different genres, cultures and musical worlds focussing on different geographical regions and in its first year will feature traditional, classical and folk music from the Iberian Peninsula, Black Sea and Italy.
Avital’s recent engagements include the Chicago Symphony, Los Angeles Philharmonic, Montreal Symphony, St. Louis Symphony, Seattle Symphony, Yomiuri Nippon Symphony, Orchestra dell’Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia, Zurich Tonhalle, Deutsche Symphonie Orchester Berlin, Orchestre National de Lyon, Maggio Musicale Fiorentino, Israel Philharmonic and the Norwegian Radio Orchestra working with conductors such as Zubin Mehta, Kent Nagano, Osmo Vänskä, Yutaka Sado, Jonathan Cohen, Miguel Harth-Bedoya, Nicholas McGegan, Omer Meir Wellber, Ton Koopman and Giovanni Antonini.
Avital appears frequently at major venues across the world including Carnegie Hall, the Berlin Philharmonie, Beijing’s National Centre for the Performing Arts, London’s Wigmore and Royal Albert Halls, Zurich’s Tonhalle, Barcelona’s Palau de la Música Catalana, Paris Philharmonie, Vienna Konzerthaus, and Palais de Versailles with a live telecast on TV Arte.
He has commissioned over 100 works for the mandolin including concertos for mandolin and orchestra by Anna Clyne, Jennifer Higdon, Avner Dorman, David Bruce and Giovanni Sollima which he has performed with orchestras such as the Munich Philharmonic/Urbański, Atlanta Symphony/Spano, RAI Torino/Bancroft and the BBC Symphony Orchestra/Rustioni.
Avital collaborates with musicians across many genres and has been Artist-in-Residence (“Portrait Artist”) at the Schleswig-Holstein Music Festival, BOZAR in Brussels, Dortmund Konzerthaus (Zeitinsel) and he will be Artist-in-Residence at the Bodensee Festival in 2023. He is a regular presence at major festivals such as Aspen, Hollywood Bowl, Salzburg, Tanglewood, Spoleto, Ravenna, MISA Shanghai, Cheltenham, Verbier, Lucerne, Bad Kissingen, Rheingau, Gstaad and Tsinandali.
An exclusive Deutsche Grammophon artist, his sixth album for the label The Art of the Mandolin was released in 2020 to outstanding international press reviews. This followed recordings of solo Bach (2019), Avital meets Avital (2017) with oud/bassist Omer Avital, ECHO Klassik Award winning Vivaldi (2015), an album of Avital’s own transcriptions of Bach concertos and Between Worlds (2014), a cross-generic chamber collection exploring the nexus between classical and traditional music.
Born in Be’er Sheva in southern Israel, Avital began learning the mandolin at the age of eight and later studied at the Jerusalem Music Academy and the Conservatorio Cesare Pollini in Padua with Ugo Orlandi. He plays a mandolin made by Israeli luthier Arik Kerman.