MUSIC

Mandolin maestro Avi Avital finally gets to play in Hong Kong

There is something exciting about walking onto a stage, feeling the energy and knowing that people are hearing the mandolin being played live for the first time, Israeli musician says

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 14 October, 2015, 12:35pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 14 October, 2015, 12:35pm

Performing in Hong Kong has been on Avi Avital's wish list for a long time - and now it's coming true.  The Israeli-born mandolin player who's been wowing audiences worldwide with his energetic playing style plays City Hall in November, accompanied by the Cologne Academy.

And it’s about time Avital played in the city – he’s already performed in China, Taiwan, Japan, and South Korea.

“One of the privileges of being a musician is you get to tour the world. It’s exciting,” says Avital, who in 2010 was the first mandolin player to receive a Grammy nomination.

He says his love for the mandolin started as a child. “A special youth mandolin orchestra, about 40 kids, visited my hometown … I was eight years old and was captivated from the moment I heard them.”

“It was my entry point to classical music. From the moment I joined I was playing Mozart, Bach, Vivaldi – It was a lot of fun. It wasn’t like I was stuck alone in my room practising, it was shared time with friends – that really captured me.”

Avital says for most audiences it is the first time they have heard the instrument being played live. “There is something exciting about walking onto a stage, feeling the energy and knowing that people are hearing the mandolin being played live for the first time. Not many musicians can say that and knowing the sound I make is the first time they have heard it live is very exciting. There’s always a lot of energy before I play the first note. It’s very exciting.”

He says his love for traditional instruments does not stop with the mandolin. He is also a fan of the pipa, a four-stringed Chinese musical instrument, belonging to the plucked family of instruments, that’s sometimes called the Chinese lute. “Almost every ancient musical tradition has a plucked-string instrument – in Japan it’s the koto, in Iran it’s the tar, in India it’s the sita, the balalaika in Russia and the bouzouki in Greece.”

Avi Avital, Cologne Academy, Hong Kong City Hall, November 2. 8pm. Tickets at http://www.pphk.org/