An Oscar-winning English chamber orchestra is coming to Prescott with a groundbreaking international soloist and a program of Bach and Dorman to herald the approach of Spring. The Yavapai Symphony Association (YSA) is hosting the Academy of St. Martin in the Fields with guest soloist Avi Avital, at 7 p.m. Tuesday, March 7, at the Yavapai College Performing Arts Center, 1100 E. Sheldon St., Prescott.

The program includes Bach’s Violin Concerto No. 1 in A Minor and Walton’s Sonata for Strings, featuring the internationally acclaimed mandolinist Avi Avital.

“This will be the first time I’ll be performing with the Academy of St. Martin in the Fields, which is a great excitement for me because I literally remember listening to their albums as a student, as a teenager, some Bach and Vivalde benchmark recordings that I remember really inspiring me,” Avital said. “It’s a really nice closure with an institution that has been a source of inspiration for me, for that many years.”

The first mandolin soloist ever nominated for a classical Grammy, Avital’s virtuosity on the instrument has drawn comparisons to Andres Segovia and Jascha Heifitz.

“I’ve been working all my life to promote the mandolin, especially in the classical genre,” Avital said. “It was indeed the first time ever that any record with a mandolin playing classical music got a nomination for the Grammy and that was a big milestone for me and for the instrument.”

The 45-year-old Israeli’s passion and dexterity in performance have made him a driving force behind the reinvigoration of the mandolin.

“Everyone has seen the piano and violin or the cello play in concert halls, especially people that go to concerts, but when I walk on stage I know that for most of the people in the audience, this will be the very first time that they hear the sound of a mandolin live in a concert hall, at least in a context of classical music,” Avital said.

“I love being a mandolin player also for that, to be able to offer something that is new or relatively new, at least to some people in the context of the concert hall experience.”

The Academy of St. Martin in the Fields, led by Music Director and virtuoso violinist Joshua Bell, is one of the world’s finest chamber orchestras, renowned for fresh, brilliant interpretations of the world’s greatest orchestral music.

Founded in 1959 by John Churchill and the legendary Neville Marriner — and named after the location of its first performance — the Academy of St. Martin in the Fields is one of the most-recorded chamber orchestras in the world, with more than 500 releases in their discography. Their soundtrack to the Oscar-winning film Amadeus reached No. 1 on the Billboard Classical Albums chart and remains one of the most popular classical music recordings of all time.

Tickets are $45 to $65, and available only by contacting the Yavapai Symphony Association at 928-776-4255. For more information, call the YSA or visit

Jesse Bertel is a reporter/videographer for the Prescott News Network. Follow him on Twitter @ JesseBertel, email him at, or call 928-445-3333, ext. 2043.

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