A trailblazing troubadour, Avi Avital has raised the mandolin's international profile and revitalised its repertoire, moving it from the margins to the mainstream of concert life. Born in 1978 in the desert city of Beersheba (Be’er Sheva) in southern Israel, Avital began playing mandolin at the age of eight and promptly joined the local youth mandolin orchestra. After studies at the Jerusalem Academy of Music and learning the mandolin's historic repertoire from Ugo Orlandi at the Cesare Pollini Conservatory in Padua, Avital broke with tradition and began a journey of musical encounters across different traditions and genres – from bluegrass and jazz to world music.
In 2007, he was named the first ever mandolinist to win Israel's Aviv Competition for young musicians on the verge of a professional career, kicking off a series of debuts in some of the world's most renowned concert halls, international festivals and together with the world's leading orchestras. These include New York's Carnegie Hall and Lincoln Center, London's Wigmore Hall, the Berlin Philharmonie, Vienna’s Konzerthaus, the Forbidden City Concert Hall in Beijing, the Leipzig Gewandhaus, and the Tanglewood and Verbier Festivals. Adding to the list of firsts, Avital was the first mandolin player to be nominated for a 2010 Grammy Award in the Best Instrumental Soloist category.
Avital's dynamic and wide-reaching repertoire is reflected in his vibrant discography, spanning a huge range of styles, eras, and regions of the world. Over the course of five albums, he has recorded arrangements of harpsichord and violin concertos by Johann Sebastian Bach; explored new repertoire of folk-music traditions by Bartók, Bloch, Falla, Piazzolla, Tsintsadze and Villa-Lobos (Between Worlds, 2014); offered a tribute to Vivaldi and Venice (Vivaldi, 2015); and journeyed through musical traditions from North Africa, the Balkans and Andalucia (Avital Meets Avital, 2017). Avital’s most recent album, Art of the Mandolin, consists entirely of original mandolin works, with two world premieres, spanning three centuries of classical mandolin repertoire. His unique ability to reflect the quality and the breadth of mandolin music, together with his jaw-dropping virtuosity, musicianship and expressive intensity make him a daredevil of transcriptions and, with over a hundred new commissions to his name, a true mandolin pioneer.