"Forgetting borders" is what he calls it in the liner notes of his latest CD. He's mandolin virtuoso Avi Avital, and that CD on the Deutsche Grammophon label is, Between Worlds.
The disc is a journey with, and a tribute to, those 20th-century classical composers who used music based on folk traditions in their own works. A genre-defying tour of the globe, the program on Between Worlds ranges from Dvořák, Bloch, Villa-Lobos and Piazzolla to folk dances from Bulgaria, Georgia, Romania, Spain and Cuba.
Avi Avital is one of the world's leading classical mandolinists, gracing concert halls from Tel Aviv to Munich to New York. But the young Israeli says he discovered the mandolin only by coincidence.
"When I was a kid, I had a neighbor who played the mandolin — the neighbor from upstairs," Avital tells NPR's Guy Raz. "It was one of those buildings where all the doors are open and all the neighbors are friends and more close than relatives. It was like one big family.