This presentation offers general admission seating on a first-come-first-served basis.
Music Worcester proudly presents Avi Avital & Hanzhi Wang as the Annual Jean McDonough Concert for our 2023-2024 Season, taking place at the BrickBox Theater in downtown Worcester’s Jean McDonough Arts Center.
The first mandolin soloist to be nominated for a classical Grammy, Avi Avital has appeared several times at Carnegie Hall, and recently with many of the major orchestras throughout North America. Passionate and explosively charismatic in live performance, he is a driving force behind the reinvigoration of the mandolin repertory. Praised for her captivating stage presence and performances that are technically and musically masterful, the groundbreaking young musician Hanzhi Wang is the first accordionist to win a place on the roster of Young Concert Artists in its 58-year history.
Fritz Kreisler (1875-1962)
Praeludium and Allegro “in the Style of Pugnani”
Suite Italienne from Pulcinella
1. Introduzione (Allegro moderato)
2. Serenata (Larghetto)
3. Tarantella (Vivace)
4. Minuetto e Finale (Moderato – Molto vivace)
Chaconne from Partita No. 2 BWV 1004 in D minor (mandolin solo)
From Goldberg Variations: Aria and variations 1, 7, 14, 18 & 29 (accordion solo)
Béla Bartók (1881-1945)
Romanian Folk Dances
Jocul cu Bâtă | Brâul | Pe Loc | Buciumeana | Poarga Românească | Mărunţel
Pablo de Sarasate
Spanish Dances op.22 no.1 Romanza Andaluza
Manuel de Falla (1876–1946)
Danse Espagnole No. 1 from “La Vida Breve”
Introduction and Rondo Capriccioso
Read more about each performing artist below:
“Much as Andres Segovia brought the classical guitar into the concert hall, the Israeli virtuoso Avi Avital is doing the same with the mandolin.” — Los Angeles Times
“The words “superstar” and “mandolinist” still look odd next to each other. Yet in the classical world they are starting to be joined with some frequency…. Avi Avital was nothing short of electric.” — The New York Times
A pioneering artist and 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, which he has expanded not only with transcriptions of various pieces, but by commissioning over 100 works for the mandolin.
Highlights of the 2023/24 season see performances with the Frankfurt Radio Symphony and Krzysztof Urbański, Vancouver Symphony and Tianyi Lu, Camerata Salzburg and Anja Bihlmaier as well as concerts with the Kammerakademie Potsdam alongside tours with Il Giardino Armonico with Giovanni Antonini, CHAARTS and the Venice Baroque Orchestra. Avi Avital will also be on tour with Hanzhi Wang (accordion) through North America and will play recitals with Anneleen Lenaerts (harp), Omer Klein (Jazz piano) and Brooklyn Rider. He is Artist-in-Residence at the Schwetzinger SWR Festspiele and will come back to DeSingel Antwerp, Wigmore Hall London, Philharmonie Berlin, Rheingau Musik Festival and Schleswig-Holstein Musik Festival.
In 2023, Avi Avital launched his new venture, the “Between Worlds Ensemble” with a three-part residency at the Boulez Saal in Berlin and concerts in Bucharest, Warsaw, Hamburg, Ludwigshafen and Antwerp. The ensemble was formed to explore different genres, cultures and musical worlds focusing on different geographical regions and in its first year featured traditional, classical and folk music from the Iberian Peninsula, the Black Sea and South Italy.
Avital’s recent engagements include the Chicago Symphony, Los Angeles Philharmonic, Yomiuri Nippon Symphony, Orchestra dell’Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia, Zurich Tonhalle, Deutsche Symphonie Orchester Berlin, Orchestre National de Lyon, Maggio Musicale Fiorentino, Israel Philharmonic and the Norwegian Radio Orchestra.
Avi Avital’s versatility has led to features as “Portrait Artist” at the Schleswig-Holstein Musik Festival, BOZAR in Brussels, the Dortmund Konzerthaus (Zeitinsel) and as Artist-in-Residence at the Bodensee Festival and La Jolla Music Society California. He is a regular presence at major festivals such as Aspen, Salzburg, Hollywood Bowl, Tanglewood, Ravenna, MISA Shanghai, Cheltenham, Verbier, Lucerne, Bad Kissingen, Rheingau, Gstaad and Tsinandali.
An exclusive Deutsche Grammophon artist, his seventh album “Concertos”, recorded with Il Giardino Armonico and Giovanni Antonini, features mandolin concertos by Vivaldi, Hummel, Bach, Barbella and Paisiello. His album “The Art of the Mandolin” (2020) received outstanding international press reviews. Previous recordings “Bach” (2019), “Avital meets Avital” (2017), “Vivaldi” (2015), an album of Avital’s own transcriptions of Bach concertos (2012) and “Between Worlds” (2014).
Born in Be’er Sheva in southern Israel, Avital began learning the mandolin at the age of eight and later studied at the Jerusalem Music Academy and the Conservatorio Cesare Pollini in Padua with Ugo Orlandi.
He plays a mandolin made by Israeli luthier Arik Kerman.
In 2017, Hanzhi Wang became the very first accordionist to win First Prize at the YCA Susan Wadsworth International Auditions, she has debuted in New York in The Peter Marino Concert at Carnegie Hall’s Zankel Hall and her Washington, DC debut opened the 40th Anniversary Young Concert Artists Series at the Kennedy Center, co-presented with Washington Performing Arts. She holds the Ruth Laredo Prize and Mortimer Levitt Career Development Award for Women Artists of YCA. She has been named Musical America’s “New Artist of the Month” and featured on WQXR’s Young Artists Showcase. Her solo accordion CD, “On the Path to H.C. Andersen” was Naxos’ first-ever solo accordion album and received critical acclaim including a nomination for the DR P2 Prize.
Hanzhi has performed at renowned venues and series, including UC Santa Barbara’s Lively Arts, the Candlelight Concert Society, La Jolla Music Society, The Morgan Library and the Artist Series in Sarasota. She has appeared as a soloist with the Oregon Music Festival, Victoria Symphony, Cantori, Chamber Orchestra of the Triangle, Sinfonia Gulf Coast, Iris Orchestra, Reno Chamber Orchestra, Erie Philharmonic and the Hawaii Symphony. Upcoming and recent highlights include her Tanglewood debut, and a coast-to-coast tour with Avi Avital that includes a performance presented by the New York Philharmonic.
Hanzhi is committed to nurturing future accordionists through lectures, masterclasses and new works that have been written for her by composers such as Martin Lohse, James Black, and Sophia Gubaidulina. She will debut a piece by YCA Alum Katie Balch at Wigmore Hall and premiere a new accordion concerto written for her by current YCA composer-in- Residence, Nina Shekhar in January 2025.
Hanzhi earned her Bachelor’s degree at the China Central Conservatory of Music and completed her Master’s degree and Soloist Diploma at the Royal Danish Academy of Music under accordion professor Geir Draugsvoll.
“MUCH AS ANDRES SEGOVIA BROUGHT THE CLASSICAL GUITAR INTO THE CONCERT HALL, THE ISRAELI VIRTUOSO AVI AVITAL IS DOING THE SAME WITH THE MANDOLIN.”
Watch Avi Avital’s videos on YouTube: