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Limelight Magazine interview with Avi Avital

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Avi Avital is hurriedly knocking back a plate of noodles between interviews as I wander into the café where we are meeting. He's taking time to talk on day two of the Australian leg of his 30-day spin around the world, and within moments it's clear that he's a fellow blessed with energy, stamina and an appetite for food and good conversation. He's also a man with a mission – but more of that later.

The Israeli-born Avital is here for a ten-day tour of Australia, courtesy of the Australian Brandenburg Orchestra. For a man who grew up in Be'er Sheva, a modest town in southern Israel, he seems to have developed a healthy case of wanderlust. After studies in Italy, he moved five years ago to Berlin, home to the Philharmonic, and his record label Deutsche Grammophon, and where he lives across the road from the soprano Simone Kermes – coincidentally the last Brandenburg guest artist I interviewed in this exact same café!

But none of this was predetermined, for the classical mandolin isn't your usual instrument, and there was no roadmap for Avital's path to international celebrity. "It was a coincidence, like all great things in life are," he tells me. "I grew up in Be'er Sheva where they have a youth orchestra of mandolin players. It was founded by my first teacher, Simcha Nathanson, who was a Russian maestro who played the violin and the mandolin. One of my neighbours played in this orchestra and I went with my parents to a concert, and then I asked to play also." READ THE FULL Limelight Magazine INTERVIEW.