Performance Friday, January 17, 2014 | 7:30 PM

Avi Avital

Weill Recital Hall
Recognized by The New York Times for his "exquisitely sensitive playing" and "stunning agility," mandolinist Avi Avital is one of the world’s most exciting young musicians. Avital comes to Carnegie Hall for a unique recital that showcases his deep commitment to building a fresh legacy for the mandolin through virtuosic performance and exciting new repertoire.

This concert is part of Salon Encores. The contemporary work on this program is part of My Time, My Music.


  • Avi Avital, Mandolin
  • Sivan Magen, Harp
  • Enso String Quartet
    ·· Maureen Nelson, Violin
    ·· John Marcus, Violin
    ·· Melissa Reardon, Viola
    ·· Richard Belcher, Cello


  • AVI AVITAL Kedma
  • BLOCH "Nigun" from Baal shem
  • BACH Partita No. 2 in D Minor, BWV 1004
  • YASUO KUWAHARA Improvised Poem
  • FALLA Siete canciones populares españolas (arr. Avital)
  • DAVID BRUCE Cymbeline for Mandolin and String Quartet (NY Premiere)

  • Encores:
  • TRAD. (Blugarian) "Bucimiš"

Event Duration

The printed program will last approximately two hours, including one 20-minute intermission.


  • Avi Avital

    Grammy-nominated mandolinist Avi Avital is one of the world's most exciting and entrepreneurial young musicians. He is deeply committed to building a legacy for the mandolin through virtuosic performance and exciting new repertoire. An exclusive Deutsche Grammophon recording artist, Mr. Avital released his first recording for the label entitled Bach, a disc of harpsichord and violin concertos arranged for mandolin. A second Deutsche Grammophon release, entitled Between Worlds, is scheduled for January 2014. Mr. Avital is the first mandolin player to receive a Grammy nomination in the category of Best Instrumental Soloist for his recording of Avner Dorman's Mandolin Concerto with Andrew Cyr and the Metropolis Ensemble.

    In support of his Bach release, Mr. Avital was part of Deutsche Grammophon's first Yellow Lounge performance in the US and was a guest at the 2013 SXSW festival. He also embarked on a northeastern US tour, performing in New York, Boston, Philadelphia, and Washington, DC. In the 2012-2013 season, Mr. Avital performed Dorman's Mandolin Concerto with the Colorado Symphony and the world premiere of David Bruce's Cymbeline with the San Diego Symphony. He was artist-in-residence at the Alaska Center for the Performing Arts and made his Aspen Music Festival debut under the baton of Nicholas McGegan in Paisiello's Mandolin Concerto in E-flat Major. This season, Mr. Avital joins the Vancouver Recital Society in his Vancouver Playhouse recital premiere and makes his Savannah Music Festival debut.

    Mr. Avital has appeared as soloist with the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra, San Francisco Chamber Orchestra, Berliner Symphoniker, and Orchestra I Pomeriggi Musicali, under the batons of Mstislav Rostropovich, Sir Simon Rattle, and Philippe Entremont, among others. Additionally, he has collaborated extensively with artists such as clarinetist Giora Feidman, soprano Dawn Upshaw, and trumpet player and composer Frank London. He has been a guest at the Tanglewood, Lucerne, Spoleto, and Ravenna summer music festivals, as well as for Yo-Yo Ma's Silk Road Project.

    Mr. Avital has released numerous recordings in the disparate genres of klezmer, Baroque, and new classical music for the Deutsche Grammophon, Sony Classical BMG, and Naxos labels, and received Germany's coveted ECHO Prize for his recording with the David Orlowsky Trio. He has been profiled for radio stations around the world, including NPR's All Things Considered and Tiny Desk Concerts, WNYC's Soundcheck, and WQXR's Café Concerts.

    Mr. Avital is a graduate of the Jerusalem Academy of Music and Dance and Conservatorio statale di Musica "Cesare Pollini" in Padova, Italy. A recent recipient of a generous grant from Salon De Virtuosi, he currently lives in Berlin.

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  • Sivan Magen

    Sivan Magen is the only Israeli to have ever won the prestigious International Harp Contest in Israel. He is also a recent winner of the Pro Musicis International Award in New York and the 2012 award winner of the Borletti-Buitoni Trust. Recent performances include recitals in New York (Merkin Concert Hall), London (Wigmore Hall), and Amsterdam (Muziekgebouw aan 't IJ), as well as solo appearances in the US, South America, Europe, and Israel, including the world premiere of Haim Permont's "Aviv" Concerto with the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra. Debut performances for the 2013-2014 season include concerto appearances with the Scottish Chamber Orchestra, Sydney Symphony Orchestra, and Vienna Chamber Orchestra at the Vienna Konzerthaus.

    As a chamber musician, Mr. Magen has appeared in Paris (Salle Gaveau) and New York (Alice Tully Hall, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Bargemusic); and at the Marlboro, Kuhmo, Giverny, and Jerusalem International chamber music festivals. He has collaborated with artists such as Nobuko Imai, Shmuel Ashkenasi, Gary Hoffman, Michel Letiec, Charles Neidich, Carol Wincenc, Emmanuel Pahud, Susanna Phillips, and members of the Guarneri and Juilliard quartets. The 2011-2012 season marked the debut of his new trio, Tre Voce, with flutist Marina Piccinini and violist Kim Kashkashian.

    Mr. Magen is a founding member of the Israeli Chamber Project (ICP), a group that performs in outreach venues and major concert halls in Israel and the US. ICP is the winner of the 2011 Israeli Ministry of Culture Outstanding Ensemble Award. This past season, his new CD with ICP for Azica Records was released to great critical acclaim, as well as an all-Britten CD with tenor Nicholas Phan for Avie Records. Next season, his second solo CD will be released on Linn Records, as well as a recording with Trio Tre Voce for ECM.

    Born in Jerusalem, Mr. Magen studied the piano with Benjamin Oren and Talma Cohen, and the harp with Irena Kaganovsky-Kessler at the Jerusalem Academy of Music and Dance. After completing his military service as an "Outstanding Musician" in 2001, he continued his studies with Germaine Lorenzini in France before joining Isabelle Moretti's harp class at the Paris Conservatoire, from which he graduated with a Premier Prix. He earned his master's degree as a student of Nancy Allen at The Juilliard School. Mr. Magen is currently a faculty member at the Brooklyn College Conservatory of Music and resides in New York City.

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  • Enso String Quartet

    Founded at Yale University in 1999, the Ensō String Quartet has risen to the front rank of string ensembles. The Ensō has won numerous awards, including top prizes at the Concert Artists Guild Competition and the Banff International String Quartet Competition. Apart from a busy touring and teaching schedule, the New York-based quartet has made a number of critically acclaimed recordings for the Naxos label.

    The Ensō String Quartet regularly performs the classics of the quartet literature, but also champions lesser-known works and contemporary music, including works the Ensō has commissioned. The ensemble also performs many of its own transcriptions, including arrangements of 16th-century Renaissance music. World premieres include commissioned works by New Zealand composer Dame Gillian Whitehead and American composer Kurt Stallmann. The Ensō also gave the world premiere of Joan Tower's Piano Quintet with the composer at the keyboard.

    The ensemble leads master classes for the next generation of professional musicians, but also works with enthusiastic amateurs of all ages. The group also works with the autistic in conjunction with the United Kingdom-based organization Music for Autism. The Ensō has additionally been recognized for its work with schoolchildren in Bridgeport, Connecticut.

    Based in New York City since 2007, the Ensō String Quartet was previously in residence at Rice University in Houston, Texas, and at Northern Illinois University in DeKalb, Illinois. The ensemble's name is derived from the Japanese Zen painting of the circle, which represents many things: perfection and imperfection, the moment of chaos that is creation, the emptiness of the void, the endless circle of life, and the fullness of the spirit.

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At a Glance

Virtuoso mandolin player Avi Avital is known for revitalizing the legacy of his instrument, not only through fresh interpretations of original repertoire, but also by inspiring compositions commissioned expressly for him and "borrowing" music originally for other instruments through the art of transcription. This evening's concert features three works originally for the mandolin (including one by the performer himself and one written specifically for him) and three transcriptions

Avital's Kedma begins the concert with a nod to his Israeli-Jewish heritage (a theme continued by Bloch's "Nigun"). The transcription of Bach's Partita No. 2 in D Minor, with its masterful Chaconne, provides a weighty and substantial study in contrapuntal writing for a solo instrument, while Kuwahara's Improvised Poem is a stark contrast with its driving, almost aggressive rhythms and accented chords. Featuring melismatic melodic writing and flamenco-inspired rhythms, Siete canciones populares españolas by Falla captures the folklore and musical patriotism of Spain. David Bruce's Cymbeline, which receives its New York premiere, salutes the sun and our relationship to it with a golden musical landscape.
Program Notes


Go behind the scenes with Avi Avital as he prepares for his Carnegie Hall debut recital.

The Distinctive Debuts series is made possible, in part, by an endowment fund for the presentation of young artists provided by The Lizabeth and Frank Newman Charitable Foundation.

Additional endowment support for international outreach has been provided by the Stavros Niarchos Foundation.
This performance is part of Distinctive Debuts.

Part of