Les Violons du Roy:
“I always leave Les Violons concerts utterly, happily, exhausted.”
– The Gazette, Montreal

Avi Avital:
“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

Les Violons du Roy
Jonathan Cohen, Music Director & Conductor
Avi Avital, mandolin

April 21, 2020, 7:30pm


Principal Underwriter: Jack Darrell
Principal Underwriter: Cecile Zinberg


Vivaldi Mandolin Concerto in C Major, RV 425
J.S. Bach The Art of the Fugue, BWV 1080 (excerpts)
J.S. Bach Violin Concerto in A minor, BWV 1041 (arr. for solo
mandolin by Avi Avital)
Vivaldi Lute Concerto in D Major, RV 93 (arr. for solo
mandolin by Avi Avital)
Vivaldi Concerto in G minor for Two Cellos, Strings, and
Continuo, RV 531
J.S. Bach Keyboard Concerto in D minor, BWV 1052 (arr. and
transcribed for solo mandolin by Avi Avital)


LES VIOLONS DU ROY (“The King’s Violins”) takes its name from the celebrated court orchestra of the French kings. It was founded in 1984 by Bernard Labadie, now styled “founding conductor,” and continues under music director Jonathan Cohen to explore the nearly boundless repertoire of music for chamber orchestra in performances matched as closely as possible to the period of each work’s composition. Its minimum fifteen-member complement plays modern instruments, albeit with period bows for Baroque and Classical music, and its interpretations are deeply informed by the latest research on seventeenth- and eighteenth-century performance practice. The repertoire of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries receives similar attention and figures regularly on the orchestra’s programs.

Les Violons du Roy has been a focal point of Québec City’s musical life since it was founded in 1984, and in 1997 it reached out to enrich the cultural landscape of Montréal as well. In 2007, the orchestra moved into its permanent home base in Québec City’s Palais Montcalm while continuing to build on the worldwide reputation it has acquired in countless concerts and recordings carried by medici.tv, Radio-Canada, CBC, and NPR along with regular appearances on the festival circuit. Les Violons du Roy has performed dozens of times throughout Canada as well as in Germany, the U.K., Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Spain, the United States, France, Israel, Morocco, Mexico, Norway, the Netherlands, Slovenia, and Switzerland, in collaboration with such world-renowned soloists as Magdalena Kožená (2006 and 2014), David Daniels (2001 and 2004), Vivica Genaux (2007), Alexandre Tharaud (2011, 2014, and 2016), Ian Bostridge (2011), Emmanuel Pahud (2012), Stephanie Blythe (2013), Marc-André Hamelin (2015), Philippe Jaroussky (2017), Anthony Marwood (2017), Isabelle Faust (2018), and Julia Lezhneva (2018). The orchestra has performed at the Berlin Philharmonie and iconic venues in London, Paris, and Brussels, with two performances on invitation at the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam.

Since Les Violons du Roy’s first trip to Washington, D.C., in 1995, its U.S. travels have been enriched with numerous and regular stops in New York, Chicago, and Los Angeles. Its seven appearances at Carnegie Hall include three with La Chapelle de Québec featuring the Messiah, the Christmas Oratorio, and the St. John Passion under Bernard Labadie, founder and music director of the choir, and another featuring Dido and Aeneas under Richard Egarr. Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles has hosted the orchestra three times, once with La Chapelle de Québec in the Messiah, again under Bernard Labadie. Les Violons du Roy is represented by Opus 3 Artists and Askonas Holt.

The thirty-two recordings released thus far by Les Violons du Roy have been met with widespread critical acclaim. The twelve released on the Dorian label include Juno Award–winning recordings of Mozart’s Requiem with La Chapelle de Québec and of Handel’s Apollo e Dafne with soprano Karina Gauvin. A dozen more have appeared through a partnership between Les Violons du Roy and Quebec’s ATMA label, including 2008 Félix Award winner Water Music, 2006 Juno Award winner Piazzolla with conductor Jean-Marie Zeitouni, and three releases under the baton of Mathieu Lussier including a CD of Vivaldi violin concertos and another of Mozart’s horn concertos. Further recordings on Erato, Naïve, Hyperion, Analekta, and Decca Gold include mezzo Vivica Genaux with arias by Handel and Hasse; C. P. E. Bach’s cello concertos with Truls Mørk; Marie-Nicole Lemieux performing opera arias by Mozart, Haydn, Gluck, and Graun; Bach and Mozart piano concertos with Alexandre Tharaud; Haydn piano concertos with Marc-André Hamelin; arias by Handel and Philip Glass with Anthony Roth Costanzo; and albums with soloists Valérie Milot and Diane Dufresne.

AVI AVITAL, mandolin

"A musician who recognizes no boundaries except those of good taste and who has the artistry to persuade listeners to follow him anywhere." - Gramophone

"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

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 which will be premiered in 2019/20. Enhanced by his infectious spirit of adventure and the warm rapport he fosters with his audience, Avital's championship of his instrument is taking the mandolin centre stage.

An exclusive Deutsche Grammophon artist, he has made four recordings for the label. Recently released Avital meets Avital (2017) with oud/bassist, Omer Avital, explores their shared cultural heritage and brings their differing classical and jazz musical backgrounds into dialogue. Earlier releases featured original concerti and transcriptions by Vivaldi (2015) his own Bach concerto transcriptions (2012) and Between Worlds (2014), a cross-generic chamber collection exploring the nexus between classical and traditional music.

In 2018/19, Avital returned to Carnegie Hall to makes his debut on the main stage with the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra. Highlights of that season in the US also include play-directing the Seattle Symphony, and performances with the Detroit Symphony, San Diego Symphony, and Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra. He also returns to Canada to perform with Les Violons du Roy, ahead of a North American tour in the following season. In the Spring of 2019, following on from his most recent Deutsche Grammophon recording, Avital tours North America with bassist Omer Avital. Recent appearances in the US also include performances with the St. Louis Symphony, Los Angeles Philharmonic, Montreal Symphony, and Chicago Symphony.

Avital's inspired music-making has electrified audiences in performances around the world. He has performed with orchestras such as the BBC Symphony Orchestra, Deutsche Symphonie Orchester Berlin, Maggio Musicale Fiorentino, Tonhalle Zurich, Israel Philharmonic, Dresden Phiharmonic, and Tasmania Symphony Orchestra, under conductors such as Zubin Mehta, Kent Nagano, Osmo Vänskä, Ton Koopman and Giovanni Antonini. Performances have taken him to Beijing's National Centre for the Performing Arts, London's Wigmore and Royal Albert Halls, Berlin Philharmonie, Zurich's Tonhalle, Barcelona's Palau de la Música Catalana, Paris Philharmonie, Vienna Konzerthaus, New York's Carnegie Hall and Palais de Versailles with a live telecast on TV Arte.

He is a favourite on the international festival circuit having appeared at the Aspen, Salzburg, Tanglewood, Spoleto, Ravenna, Cheltenham and Verbier Festivals, amongst others, and he was Portrait Artist at the Schleswig-Holstein Music Festival in 2017 which involved over 20 performances of 10 different programmes. Artistic partners in a variety of genres with whom he collaborates include Andreas Scholl, Juan Diego Flórez, Dawn Upshaw, Giora Feidman, Ray Chen, David Greilsammer, Richard Galliano, Ksenija Sidorova, percussionist Itamar Doari and the Dover and Danish String Quartets. He was featured artist in a Zeitsinsel at the Dortmund Konzerthaus where he curated a weekend of programmes featuring classical, jazz and improvisations and a new collaboration with the Venice Baroque Orchestra and Georgian puppet theatre, Budrugana Gagra.

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 later graduated from the Jerusalem Music Academy and the Conservatorio Cesare Pollini in Padua, Italy, where he studied original mandolin repertoire 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.