Mandolin ‘Rock Star’ Brings Instrument To Concert Halls

Avi Avital is turning the diminutive mandolin into a big deal on the Deutsche Grammophon label.
Credit Harold Hoffman / Deutsche Grammophon
Audio version of this story here.


It takes a very talented musician to make a diminutive instrument like the mandolin into a big deal. Avi Avital is one such musician.

He is the rock star of classical mandolin. In fact, he is the first mandolinist to have been nominated for a Grammy Award for “Best Instrumental Soloist.”

Avitel is committed to building a fresh legacy for his instrument through virtuosic performance and commissioning new works. One of those commissions was with composer Avner Dorman, who wrote his “Mandolin Concerto” for the musician. A recording of Avitel performing that piece was released in 2010.

He has even been working with an Israeli luthier to build him custom instruments which would be loud enough to be played in modern concert halls.

“Because there was no one I could follow as an international mandolin soloist,” Avitel says to “City Lights” host Lois Reitzes, “I just found myself doing more and more concerts. And then when I was 21, 22, I just realized that ‘Alright, this is what I’m going to do in life!'”

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