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New Classical Tracks - Avital Meets Avital

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New Classical Tracks is a Syndicated Feature airing Nationally on Classical 24 & Statewide on Minnesota Public Radio. Listen to Julie Amacher's Feature with Avi Avital.

READ THE TRANSCRIPT - On his latest recording, mandolinist Avi Avital dives into his Israeli roots exploring his Moroccan ancestry. He says it's the nature of his instrument that allows him to stretch beyond musical boundaries. "When I realized I'm beginning a career as a classical mandolin player, there were no examples, and so, it forced me to be very creative of what I do and to be always on an exploration. I always liked to listen to and to play a little bit [of] different genres of music and some of them I get confident enough, even, to go on stage with them."

So, you've explored the music of Bach and Vivaldi and you traveled between worlds and now on your new recording, your fourth release, you're returning to your homeland with, perhaps, an unlikely musical companion. Tell me a little bit about this jazz bassist with whom you've teamed up.

"Omer Avital, the bass player with whom I collaborated on this project, is a jazz musician and composer. He lives in New York but is obviously from Israel. We share the same family name but, disclaimer, we're not blood-related. However, the fact that we have the same family name is also not completely a coincidence. Avital is a typical surname of Moroccan Jewish families. So, both of us were born in Israel but in our ancestry, my parents came from Morocco. His father came from Morocco. We have that tradition. We have that culture, that mentality, that music we grew up with which is similar and very special."

There are a lot of Moroccan Middle Eastern music references to it. You can't really call it jazz, you can't really call it classical music but it's all original music that we both composed, that reflect this mixture and this cultural baggage that we all collected in our own journey."

Eight of the nine pieces on this recording were written by one of the two Avitals. Tell me a little bit about how these works came to be. Did you each kind of go in your own quarters and start writing or did you start composing together?

"At the beginning of the process, the creative process, I spent a week at Omer's house in Brooklyn, improvising and listening to music. That was a week-long of just getting to know each other. That was a first time for me to really write this in the style and to compose in general."