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From Our Stage

Avi Avital plays Vivaldi

Avi Avital performs Antonio Vivaldi's Concerto in D major for lute, strings & continuo, RV 93, arranged for mandolin, with the Australian Brandenburg Orchestra. Recorded live at City Recital Hall in 2014.

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Antonio Vivaldi (1678-1741)

Concerto in D major RV 93 (arr. for mandolin)
Soloist: Avi Avital (Germany)

The mandolin is a member of the lute family. It has four courses of doubled strings (now wire but originally gut), each pair tuned a perfect fifth apart, played by being plucked with a plectrum. Its tuning is the same as the violin, so any music composed for solo violin is readily transferrable to the mandolin. The mandolin’s distinctive sound is due to the use of tremolo: the player rapidly plucks each of the pair of strings to maintain the sound.

Different types of mandolin are used for playing different styles of music, but the type most commonly used in classical music and in European traditional music is the Neapolitan mandolin, developed in the middle of the 18th century. The mandolin was particularly popular in Italy among the middle and upper classes from the middle of the 1800s. Towards the end of the century, most Italian towns had a mandolin orchestra and by World War I it had become one of the most widely played instruments in northern Europe and the United States.

The mandolin has been used in compositions by many classical composers. Mozart had Don Giovanni sing a serenade accompanied by mandolin, and Vivaldi wrote a number of concerti featuring mandolin as the solo instrument. Beethoven played the mandolin and composed pieces for it, and it was also used by Mahler, Schoenberg, Webern, and Stravinsky.

Vivaldi probably wrote this concerto in 1730. He and his father had left Venice at the end of 1729 to travel to Vienna and then on to Prague, where his new opera Argippo was being performed. While they were in Prague, Count Johann Joseph von Wrtby, the royal governor of Bohemia, commissioned this lute concerto and two trios also for lute. The intended performer is not known, although it could have been Count Wrtby himself or a musician employed by him.


Vivaldi took care to ensure that the soft grained sound of the lute was not swamped by the strings. In the fast outer movements, the tutti instruments frame passages for the soloist and mostly the lute (here the mandolin) is supported only by the continuo (bass instruments and harpsichord). The striking rhythms of the first movement are followed by one of his most exquisitely serene slow movements, and the concerto ends with a lively dance-like Allegro.

Program Notes: © Lynne Murray, 2014
Image Credit: Steven Godbee, 2016

Discover More


The first mandolin soloist to be nominated for a classical Grammy, Avi Avital has been compared to Andres Segovia for his championship of his instrument and to Jascha Heifitz for his incredible virtuosity.  Passionate and “explosively charismatic” (New York Times) in live performance, he is a driving force behind the reinvigoration of the mandolin repertory. More than 100 contemporary compositions have been written for him, 15 of them concertos including by Anna Clyne, Avner Dorman and Giovanni Sollima. 
An exclusive Deutsche Grammophon artist, he has made five recordings for the label mostly recently solo Bach (2019).  Earlier releases include Avital meets Avital (2017) with oud/bassist, Omer Avital, which explores their shared cultural heritage and brings their differing classical and jazz musical backgrounds into dialogue.  Vivaldi (2015) followed his own Bach concerto transcriptions (2012) and Between Worlds (2014), a cross-generic chamber collection exploring the nexus between classical and traditional music. He has also recorded for Naxos and SONY Classical.
Increasingly in demand as a concerto soloist, Avital’s has performed with the BBC Symphony Orchestra, Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Deutsche Symphonie Orchester Berlin, Maggio Musicale Fiorentino, Tonhalle Zurich, Israel Philharmonic, Dresden Phiharmonic, Yomiuri Nippon Symphony, Residentie Orkest, Norwegian Radio, Orpheus, The Knights, Detroit Symphony, Seattle Symphony and Orchestre Symphonique de Montréal under conductors such as Mehta, Nagano, Vänskä, Sado, Jonathan Cohen, McGegan, Koopman and Antonini. 
He is a regular presence at major festivals such as Aspen, Salzburg, Tanglewood, Spoleto, Ravenna, MISA Shanghai, Cheltenham and Verbier and he was Portrait Artist at the Schleswig-Holstein Music Festival in 2017.   He subsequently curated a weekend Zeitsinsel at the Dortmund Konzerthaus with 4 programmes featuring classical, jazz and improvisations and a new collaboration with the Venice Baroque Orchestra and Georgian puppet theatre, Budrugana Gagra.
Highlights of his 2019/20 season include the world première of Giovanni Sollima’s Mandolin Concerto with the Orchestra Sinfonica Nazionale della RAI whilst other concerto engagements brought him to the Orchestre National de Lyon, Orchestra dell’Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia, Orchestra della Svizzera Italiana, Zurich Tonhalle Orchester, Staatskapelle Weimar, the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra and he toured the US with Les Violons du Roy.  He toured Europe and Asia with Avital meets Avital, began a new collaboration with Giovanni Sollima “Mediterraneo” and was featured as Portrait Artist at Bozar in Brussels.
Born in Be’er Sheva in southern Israel, Avital began learning the mandolin at the age of eight and soon joined the flourishing mandolin youth orchestra founded and directed by his charismatic teacher, Russian-born violinist Simcha Nathanson. He studied at the Jerusalem Music Academy and the Conservatorio Cesare Pollini in Padua with Ugo Orlandi. Winner of Israel’s prestigious Aviv Competition in 2007, Avital is the first mandolinist in the history of the competition to be so honoured. He plays on a mandolin made by Israeli luthier Arik Kerman.

Image Credit: Harald Hoffmann
Courtesy of Deutsche Grammophon


Paul Dyer is one of Australia’s leading specialists in period performance.

Paul co-founded the Brandenburg in 1990 after completing postgraduate studies at the Royal Conservatorium in The Hague and has been Artistic Director and conductor since that time. He is a performing artist comfortable in his unique music arena – whether working in ancient music, contemporary music, opera, with artists such as circus performers, contemporary dance, or visual art. His busy performing schedule in Europe, Asia, the USA and Canada over the years has synchronised perfectly alongside his bold stage work in Australia.

Paul is an inspiring teacher and has been a staff member at various conservatories throughout the world. In 1995 he received a Churchill Fellowship and he has won numerous international and national awards for his CD recordings with the Australian Brandenburg Orchestra and Choir, including the 1998, 2001, 2005, 2009 and 2010 ARIA Awards for Best Classical Album.

Paul has performed with many international soloists including Andreas Scholl, Cyndia Sieden, Marc Destrubé, Hidemi Suzuki, Stefano Montanari, Xavier De Maistre, Shunske Sato, Maurice Steger, Riccardo Minasi, Yvonne Kenny, Emma Kirkby, Philippe Jaroussky and many others. In 1998 he made his debut in Tokyo with countertenor Derek Lee Ragin, leading an ensemble of Brandenburg soloists, and in August 2001 Paul toured the orchestra to Europe with guest soloist Andreas Scholl. In 2015, he was featured on the soundtrack of the James Bond 007 movie, Spectre.

A passionate cook, entertainer, foodie, teacher, swimmer and traveler, he is friends with people and artists from Istanbul to India and Japan to Italy, and creates a unique platform for overseas performing artists to work with him and the Brandenburg in Australia. Among his list of achievements, Paul was awarded the Officer of the Order of Australia (AO) in 2013 for his ‘distinguished service to the performing arts in Australia’. Paul is Patron of St Gabriel’s School for Hearing Impaired Children. In 2003 Paul was awarded the Australian Centenary Medal for his services to Australian society and the advancement of music, and in 2010 Paul was awarded the Sydney University Alumni Medal for Professional Achievement.

Biography: Paul Dyer, 2020
Image Credit: Georges Antoni, 2019 


Matthew Bruce is an in demand professional violinist, concertmaster, soloist, improviser, & pedagogue, known for passionate live performances and outstanding outcomes for his students. He has worked professionally in the industry for the past three decades, and is trained and experienced in classical, historical, & contemporary violin performance at the highest level.

Matt has been a member of the world-renowned Australian Brandenburg Orchestra since 1992, which he has led as Resident Concertmaster (and subsequently Associate Concertmaster) since 2013, toured with at both national and international levels, and for whom he has featured as soloist on innumerable occasions over the past two decades. This includes appearing on ARIA award-winning recordings like Tapas - Tastes of the Baroque, and collaborating live with artists such as Riccardo Minasi, Lixsania Fernández, Christina Pluhar, and Philippe Jaroussky.

Classically, Matt has worked extensively with the Australian Opera, Orchestra of the Antipodes, Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra, Pinchgut Opera, Australian Chamber Orchestra, Sydney Symphony Orchestra, Hobart and Brisbane Baroque, Sydney Philharmonia and Sydney Chamber Choir as an orchestral player, section leader, and concertmaster.

Additionally, he has a strong background in chamber music, notably as a longstanding member of the East Sydney Ensemble with whom he has performed at the Melbourne International Chamber Music Competition, Canberra Chamber Music Festival, Townsville International Chamber Music Festival, the Académie de Musique de Lausanne in Switzerland, and also on regional tours in Australia.

Matt has also cultivated an interest in ‘extra-classical’ violin music due to his experience playing in a jazz band during his younger years. He has featured in groups such as the Australian contemporary electric string quartets 'FourPlay' and 'Coda', on tour as a solo rock violinist for artists Jenny Morris, Daryl Braithwaite and James Reyne, as a free-jazz violinist for ‘The Albert Ayler Project’ and ‘J’Adube’, and for the past decade, as a tango violinist for Sydney groups ‘Fuego Lento’ and ‘La Luna’. In 2018, he performed in a mixed quintet ensemble version of the improvisational work Superimposition at the Vivid Sydney Festival, touring to Croatia for a repeat performance in 2019.

Matt’s early training was with Hiroko Primrose, wife of renowned violist William Primrose. He graduated from the Sydney Conservatorium of Music with a Bachelor of Music and Postgraduate Diploma under the tutelage of Janet Davies in 1995, also winning the Student Concerto Competition in the previous year.

Matt also attended the Australian National Academy of Music and the Académie de Musique de Lausanne for further chamber music and solo studies, and was awarded a Big Brother Scholarship and Churchill Fellowship for further studies in Europe, the latter to pursue his interest in historically-informed performance practices. Matt has been blessed to have a variety of exceptional mentors over the years, including David Takeno, Lydia Mordkovitch, Boris Berman, Enrico Gatti, Ryo Terakado, Marc Destrubé, Pierre Amoyal, Riccardo Minasi, Elizabeth Walfisch, Catherine Mackintosh, and Stefano Montanari.

In addition to his performing commitments, Matt has been a dedicated and successful teacher of violin and music principles for over 25 years. He is passionate about presenting music education through real, dynamic, and meaningful contexts. As well as one on one teaching, he presents masterclasses, guest directs training ensembles, and mentors players at every level from elementary to postgraduate and professional students, whether at local elementary and secondary schools, or tertiary institutions such as The Australian Institute of Music and Newcastle Conservatorium of Music.

Matt currently resides in Sydney, Australia.

Biography: Matthew Bruce, 2021
Image Credit: Georges Antoni, 2018


Click here to watch Ben Dollman's In Conversation interview.

Ben Dollman is one of Australia’s leading performers on Baroque violin, having held the position of Principal Second Baroque Violin in the Australian Brandenburg Orchestra for over fifteen years.

Studies in early violin began at Indiana University with the Australian Baroque violinist Stanley Ritchie. Upon returning to Australia, Ben was mentored by Lucinda Moon and invited to become a regular member of the Brandenburg in 1999.

He has performed as soloist and concertmaster on several occasions and is a featured soloist on two ARIA award-winning albums for Best Classical Album. In 2015 he was the recipient of a Brandenburg Foundation Study Grant to undertake extensive professional development work in Europe.

Based in Adelaide, he has been a leading performer in the South Australian chamber music and orchestral scene for many years with Adelaide Baroque, Ensemble Galante and has been a regular guest with the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra. Ben also makes regular appearances in Victoria for Evergreen Ensemble and Melbourne Baroque Orchestra. Within Australia and internationally, he is a member of the theatrical musical duo 'Dual Aura' with Danish recorder player Monica Schmidt Andersen.

He also holds a Master’s degree in Environmental Studies, and maintains a strong interest in how Arts Practice can influence issues of social importance such as environmental awareness.

Biography: Ben Dollman, 2021
Image Credit: Georges Antoni, 2019


Click here to watch Monique O'Dea's In Conversation interview.

Monique O’Dea studied violin at the Adelaide Conservatorium with Beryl Kimber and subsequently won a scholarship to study in Vienna where she met her husband, Sydney violinist Michael O’Dea. After their time in Vienna, Monique and Michael moved to London for further studies and by this time, Monique had changed to the viola, something that had been in the back of her mind for a long time.  She was appointed Principal Viola of the Peterborough String Orchestra.

After returning to Australia, Monique was appointed Co-Principal Viola of the Australian Chamber Orchestra. It was at this time that she first met Paul Dyer who was playing harpsichord with the orchestra. They became firm friends on a bus to Canberra.

Paul invited Monique to join his newly formed Australian Brandenburg Orchestra as Principal Viola. She has been a member of the Brandenburg since the very first concert at Sydney Opera House in 1990. Monique also teaches at Presbyterian Ladies’ College, Sydney.

Biography: Monique O’Dea, 2020
Image Credit: Georges Antoni, 2019

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