Brooklyn Rider and Avi Avital

If you think you know chamber music, think again. The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette has described the group as “four classical musicians with the energy of young rock stars jamming on their guitars, a Beethoven-goes-indie foray into making classical music accessible but also celebrating why it was good in the first place.” With a gripping performance style and unquenchable appetite for musical adventure, Brooklyn Rider has carved a singular space in the world of string quartets over its 15-year history. The group has defined the string quartet as a medium with deep historic roots and endless possibilities for invention with inspirations from Beethoven and Persian classical music to American roots music.

Johnny Gandelsman on violin, Colin Jacobsen on violin, Nicholas Cords on viola and Michael Nicolas on cello offer an eclectic repertoire that is as much at home at the SXSW Festival in Austin as at Lincoln Center and Carnegie Hall. Their first album, Passport, was selected by NPR as one of the best classical albums of the year, and composer Philip Glass chose them to record his complete string quartets, including the world premiere recording of his Bent Suite. They are known for playing unusual works and for collaborating with musicians not traditionally associated with classical music,

To celebrate its 10th anniversary in 2015, the group put together a ground-breaking multi-disciplinary project, Brooklyn Rider Almanac, for which it recorded and toured 15 specially commissioned works, each inspired by a different artistic muse. Other recent recordings include 2016’s The Fiction Issue, with music by Gabriel Kahane, and The Impostor, with Bela Fleck. In 2018, Brooklyn Rider released Dreamers with celebrated Mexican jazz vocalist Magos Herrera. The recording includes pieces written to texts by Octavio Paz, Ruben Diario, and Federico Garcia Lorca. Their first stop to support the recording? New York City’s Jazz at Lincoln Center. They also debuted their Grammy-nominated “Healing Modes” project, which presents Beethoven’s Opus 132 in its entirety, alongside five compact new commissions which explore the subject of healing from a wide range of historical and cultural perspectives.

Brooklyn Rider has worked on several projects with banjoist Bela Fleck and has also partnered with two other artists at the forefront of their respective genres: jazz saxophonist Joshua Redman and Irish fiddle master Martin Hayes. In the midst of these exciting collaborations, the quartet performed across the U.S. and Europe. They have also spent time teaching, with past residencies at Dartmouth College, Williams College, the University of North Carolina and Texas A & M University.

The upcoming season brings new and innovative works from the quartet. They will premiere a major new work by the Argentinean composer and close friend Osvaldo Golijov. It also has collaborative projects with Israeli mandolin virtuoso Avi Avital and work with tenor Nicholas Phan, exploring the music of Franz Schubert and Rufus Wainwright. For 2022-23, they will launch a major new commissioning venture called “The Four Elements,” exploring earth, air, water and fire as a metaphor for the inner world of the string quartet.

Avi Avital, who will join Brooklyn Rider in concert, is the first mandolin soloist to be nominated for a classical Grammy. He has been compared to Andres Segovia for his championship of his instrument and to Jascha Heifetz for his incredible virtuosity. He is a driving force behind the reinvigoration of the mandolin repertory. Avital frequently appears at major venues worldwide, including Carnegie Hall, the Berlin Philharmonic, Beijing’s National Centre for the Performing Arts, London’s Royal Albert Hall, the Paris Philharmonie and the Palace de Versailles with a live telecast.

Avital, a native of Be’er Sheva in southern Israel, began learning the mandolin at 8. He studied at the Jerusalem Music Academy and the Conservatorio Cesare Pollini in Padua. He won Israel’s prestigious Aviv Competition in 2007, the first mandolinist to be so honored.

For Johnny Gandelsman, this is an exciting time to be an artist. In a radio interview on WGBH, he explained why collaborations were so important to the group. “There’s a freedom for musicians (right now) to go after the things they’re really passionate about and make it work, a do-it-yourself feeling, and it’s just incredible how many ensembles there are that explore world music and bring influences of that in what they do. It’s a really exciting time to be a musician. In a way, commissioning all these different composers is a way of celebrating this larger community that we are a part of. Even the people we haven’t met personally, it does feel like we’re in it together, making things happen. And that’s an exciting thing.”

Come share the excitement.

Johnny Gandelsman, violin
Colin Jacobsen, violin
Nicholas Cords, viola
Michael Nicolas, cello



La Musica Notturna Ritratta di Madrid LUIGI BOCCHERINI

Prelude for Solo Mandolin GIOVANNI SOLLIMA
(b. 1962)

(b. 1982)

(b. 1978)

(b. 1978)

(b. 1960)

Love Potion, Expired, from Culai LEV “LJOVA” ZHURBIN
(b. 1978)

*This program to be performed without intermission*


Brooklyn Rider and Avi Avital Program