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21C Media Group Welcomes Mandolin Virtuoso Avi Avital, Who Launches U.S. Tour This Spring

21C Media Group is pleased to announce that it now represents mandolinist Avi Avital – “a remarkable presence on stage, a natural musical leader, and a virtuoso on his instrument” (Calgary Herald) – who launches a U.S. tour this spring (March 2-16) that encompasses debuts in Wyoming, Minnesota, Phoenix, Erie, PA and Princeton; a concert at the National Gallery in Washington, DC; and returns to the Bay Area, Boston, and New York, with the final concert of the tour at the 92nd Street Y. Known for his engaging and electrifying live performances, which recently moved the Boston Globe to write that he and his collaborators “play with the freedom of rock or jazz musicians, and a sensibility that’s distinctively urban,” Avital is zealously committed to revitalizing the legacy of his instrument, both through virtuosic performance and the commissioning of new works. In 2010 he became the first mandolin player to receive a Grammy nomination in the classical category “Best Instrumental Soloist,” for his recording of Avner Dorman’s Mandolin Concerto – a work Avital commissioned – with New York’s Metropolis Ensemble and conductor Andrew Cyr.

The program for Avital’s U.S. tour is taken mainly from his 2014 Deutsche Grammophon album, Between Worlds, the title referring to what he calls “the blurry borders between concert hall music and popular music.” The mandolin has, in recent centuries, been largely known through its role in folk music, but it was once favored as a solo instrument with orchestra. Avital is especially interested in exploring not only this double identity, but the sometimes fine line between classical and folk music in general. As he says of his choice of repertoire for Between Worlds:

“This topic has been very prominent throughout my artistic life: the contrasts and similarity, the borders and the fusion between classical music and folk music. I particularly concentrated on a stream of composers (all dated around the first half of the 20th century) who brought their own folklore into their compositions: Bartók, de Falla, Villa-Lobos, Piazzolla, Dvorák and many more.”

For the Between Worlds tour, Avital has distilled the album settings to be played by accordion and percussion – instruments that he feels most clearly support the mandolin’s traditional and classical double identity. His touring partners (with whom he has already logged more than 70 performances in Europe, Asia and South America) are accordionist Ksenija Sidorova and percussionist Itamar Doari. The U.S. tour takes the trio from coast to coast, with the final leg including concerts in the Celebrity Series of Boston, at the National Gallery in Washington, DC and at Manhattan’s 92nd Street Y. A trailer for the Between Worlds disc is available here.

Following the tour, the mandolin virtuoso performs concerts in Macedonia and the UK before returning to North America for three orchestral engagements, first with Nebraska’s Lincoln Symphony and then two dates with the Calgary Philharmonic, as well as a solo recital at the Virginia Arts Festival. In May he performs another piece written especially for him, David Bruce’s Cymbeline, at the Kennedy Center, along with the Enso String Quartet, the group that helped him premiere the piece for his Carnegie Hall debut in 2014.

An exclusive Deutsche Grammophon artist, Avital has recorded two other discs for the label. His debut – praised for “sheer brilliance and lyrical subtlety” (Telegraph, UK) – featured his own transcriptions of four Bach concertos: two originally scored for harpsichord and one each for violin and flute. His most recent release, recorded with the Venice Baroque Orchestra, was titled Vivaldi, about which the Boston Globe raved: “Avital and the Venice Baroque Orchestra put the music back into ‘early music.’” A live performance of Vivaldi material in Carnegie’s Zankel Hall impressed the New York Times as “nothing short of electric,” and the album won an ECHO Klassik award, Avital’s second. A trailer for Vivaldi can be seen here.

After a concert at last year’s Ageas Salisbury International Arts Festival, the UK Telegraph found a succinct way to sum up Avital’s charismatic appeal:

“Until Avital burst on the scene most of us had barely heard a mandolin – apart from that moment in Don Giovanni where the Don suddenly produces one to help him seduce his latest victim. The way Avital plays the mandolin, you could see why a seducer might find it useful.”

High resolution photos can be downloaded here.


Avi Avital: Winter/Spring performances

Feb 13
Wolfsburg, Germany
Das Hallenbad – Kultur am Schachtweg
Bach: Concerto in G minor
David Bruce: Cymbeline for Mandolin and String Quartet
With Kuss Quartet

Feb 18
London, UK
Wigmore Hall
Works by Vivaldi, Scarlatti, Ben-Haim, and more
With Mahan Esfahani, harpsichord, and Sean Shibe, guitar

March 2-16
“Between Worlds” Tour
With Ksenija Sidorova, accordion, and Itamar Doari, percussion
Bartók: Romanian Folk Dances
Traditional Turkish: Nacyem Nacyem
Bach: Sonata No. 6 in G major, BWV 1019 – Allegro
Traditional Israeli: Mi Yitneni Of
Bach: Sarabande from Overture in the French Style, BWV 831
Itamar Doari: Improvisation
Traditional Bulgarian: Bucimis
Sulkhan Tsintsadze: Three Miniatures based on Georgian Folk Themes
Bloch: “Nigun” from Baal Shem
Kreisler: Prelude and Allegro
De Falla: Siete Canciones Populares Españolas
Villa-Lobos: Bachianas Brasileiras – Aria (Cantilena)
Budashkin: Concerto in A minor

March 2Palo Alto, CA (Oshman Family Jewish Community Center)
March 3Laramie, WY (University of Wyoming – BCPA Concert Hall)
March 4Phoenix, AZ (Musical Instrument Museum)
March 6Washington, DC (National Gallery of Art – West Building, West Garden Court)
March 8St. Paul, MN (The Schubert Club – Landmark Center)
March 10Erie, PA (Mercyhurst Institute for Arts & Culture – Walker Recital Hall)
March 11Boston, MA (Celebrity Series of Boston – Jordan Hall)
March 13Princeton, NJ (McCarter Theatre Center)
March 16New York, NY (92Y – Kaufmann Concert Hall)

March 24
Skopje, Macedonia
Macedonian Philharmonic Orchestra / Michal Nesterowicz
Army Hall
Vivaldi: Concerto for Mandolin and Orchestra in D major, RV 93
Hummel: Concerto for Mandolin and Strings in G major

March 29
London, UK
Royal Albert Hall
Filarmonica Gioachino Rossini Orchestra / Christopher Franklin
With Juan Diego Flórez, tenor

March 31
Nottingham, UK
Lakeside Arts Center
Bach: Sonata BWV 1019
Scarlatti: Sonata for Mandolin & Basso Continuo in D minor, K. 90
Takemitsu: Rain Dreaming
Vivaldi: Sonata in C
With Mahan Esfahani, harpsichord

April 30
Lincoln, NE
Lincoln Symphony Orchestra
Lied Center for Performing Arts
Vivaldi: Four Seasons
Avner Dorman: Mandolin Concerto

May 4
Washington, DC
Fortas Chamber Music Concerts
Kennedy Center
David Bruce: Cymbeline for Mandolin and String Quartet

May 5
Norfolk, VA
Virginia Arts Festival
Sandler Center for the Performing Arts
Solo Recital

May 12
Calgary, Alberta, Canada
Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra / Daniel Cohen
Jack Singer Concert Hall
Vivaldi: Concerto for Mandolin in D major
Bach: Concerto in A minor, BWV 1041

May 14
Calgary, Alberta, Canada
Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra / Daniel Cohen
Jack Singer Concert Hall
Vivaldi: Concerto for Mandolin in D major
Bach: Concerto in A minor, BWV 1041
Avner Dorman: Concerto for Mandolin and Strings

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© 21C Media Group, February 2016

 (photo: © Harald Hoffmann / Deutsche Grammophon)

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