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Today, July 18, Mandolin Virtuoso Avi Avital Launches a Concerto for Instagram, Composed by Peter Breiner

With his zealous commitment to revitalizing the legacy of his instrument, and passion for reaching the widest possible audience, mandolinist Avi Avital launches a new experimental project this month called InstaConcerto. Commissioned by Avital, and composed for mandolin and strings by his longtime collaborator, Slovak-Canadian pianist, conductor and composer Peter Breiner, the five movements of the concerto are each just 15 seconds long. Avital – “a remarkable presence on stage, a natural musical leader, and a virtuoso on his instrument” (Calgary Herald) – is joined by the Kremerata Baltica orchestra on the recording, which he will release on Instagram on July 18. His Instagram handle is @aviavital, and the first movement of the concerto can be seen here.

InstaConcerto is an experiment in art, music, social media, and composition, born of a casual discussion between Avital and Breiner. The idea was to see whether a concerto – traditionally thought of as a presentation and working out of themes by a soloist in alternation and collaboration with an orchestra – could retain its essential identity within the context of a time-restrictive social media platform. Social media outlets have attracted artists for as long as they have existed, in spite of, or perhaps due to, their limitations. Twitter immediately tempted poets to test the expressive potential of 140 characters; Instagram is an open invitation to distribute samples of visual art, but initially permitted only a square frame. Though it has now expanded the allowable video length to one minute, Avital and Breiner chose the iconic 15 seconds original allowable time on Instagram as their venue. Within those parameters, the composer tried to maintain a musical structure, a tension-release relationship in each movement that was perceptible despite the micro-miniature format. As Avital says: “We wanted to raise questions with this project, both about the artistic value of the composition within the given restrictions of the time-frame, and about the attention span of our generation and its relationship to classical music.”

Last month, Avital embarked on a South American tour with the Venice Baroque orchestra, his partner on his most recent Deutsche Grammophon release, the ECHO Klassik award-winning Vivaldi. A rave review of the album in the Boston Globe asserted: “Avital and the Venice Baroque Orchestra put the music back into ‘early music.’” His summer will be spent primarily in Europe, with a mix of solo recitals, concerto performances, and chamber music. Six dates spread throughout the summer will be with accordionist Ksenija Sidorova and percussionist Itamar Doari, with whom he recently toured the U.S., focusing on music from his 2014 DG release, Between Worlds. In summer and early fall, he also revisits two pieces written especially for him that figured prominently in his programming this past season: David Bruce’s Cymbeline for mandolin and string quartet, which he played with the Enso Quartet at the Kennedy Center in May, and Avner Dorman’s Mandolin Concerto, which he plays once again with the Kremerata Baltica orchestra. Avital commissioned Dorman to write his concerto in 2006, and it has since become the most frequently performed of the more than 90 works, including 15 full-length concertos, written specifically for or commissioned by the mandolinist. His recording of the piece with New York’s Metropolis Ensemble and conductor Andrew Cyr was nominated for a Grammy Award in 2010, making Avital the first mandolin soloist in Grammy history to be nominated in a classical category (“Best Classical Instrumental Soloist”). In September Avital makes his debut with the Los Angeles Philharmonic playing Vivaldi’s Four Seasons at the Hollywood Bowl on a program that also includes Brahms’s Serenade No. 1.

High resolution photos can be downloaded here.

About the composer

Peter Breiner is one of the world’s most recorded musicians, with over 200 CDs released. His album of arrangements Beatles Go Baroque sold more than a quarter of a million copies worldwide, and his arrangements of national anthems for all participating countries were used during the 2004 Olympics in Athens. He has composed scores for film and TV, as well as the huge multi-media project Slovak Dances, Nasty and Nice, which includes audio recording, interactive videos, and audience participation, and is based on his own 85-minute orchestral dance suite. Breiner has also conducted the Royal Philharmonic, Jerusalem Symphony, Hungarian State Radio Orchestra, Moscow Symphony, France’s Orchestra National de Lille and the Hong Kong Philharmonic, among many others, often doubling as a pianist. Proficient in seven languages, he has hosted various TV and radio programs about music, and in 1993 was a co-host and music director of the most popular TV talk show in Slovakia. He has his own column in one of Slovakia’s most influential weekly newspapers and is the author of two best-selling books.


Avi Avital: Upcoming performances

July 19
Bad Kissingen, Germany
Kurtheater Bad Kissingen
“Between Worlds” Trio

July 21
Bernkastel-Wehlen, Germany
Moselle Music Festival
“Between Worlds” Trio

Aug 2
Hitzacker, Germany
Sommerliche Musiktage Hitzacker
“Between Worlds” Trio

Aug 12
Montreal, Canada
Scarlatti: Sonata in D minor for Mandolin & Continuo, K. 90
Valentini: Sonata in A minor for Mandolin & Continuo
Beethoven: Andante con variazioni
Vivaldi: Trio Sonata in G minor, RV 85

Aug 13
Montreal, Canada
Orchestre Symphonique de Montréal / Kent Nagano
Maison Symphonique de Montréal
Vivaldi: Sinfonia in C major
Vivaldi: Concerto for Violin in A minor, Op. 3, No. 6, RV 356 with mandolin
Vivaldi: Concerto for Violin and Cello in B-flat major, RV 547
Bach: Keyboard Concerto in G minor, BWV 975 for Solo Keyboard
Vivaldi: Concerto for Two Trumpets
With Pinchas Zuckerman, violin; Amanda Forsyth, cello; Paul Merkelo, trumpet; Gilles Vonsattel, piano, and musicians from OSM conducted by Kent Nagano

Aug 27
Siena, Italy
With Quartetto Indaco

Sep 1
Sion, Switzerland
Kremerata Baltica
Vivaldi: Concerto in C Major for Mandolin, RV 425
Ernest Bloch (arr. Andreas N. Tarkmann): “Nigun,” excerpt from Baal Shem
Mohammed Fairouz: Concerto for Mandolin
Avner Dorman: Concerto for Mandolin (2006)
Robert Schumann: Pictures from the East, Op. 66
Alfred Schnittke: Five Fragments to Pictures of Hieronymus Bosch
Antonín Dvořák: Nocturne for Orchestra, Op. 40, B. 47

Sep 15
Los Angeles, CA
Hollywood Bowl with the Los Angeles Philharmonic
Vivaldi: The Four Seasons

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© 21C Media Group, July 2016

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