One of the world's most celebrated mandolin players, Avi Avital is an artist who has set out to remake the reputation and repertoire of his instrument in the classical and folk music communities. Avital was born in Be'er Sheva in Southern Israel in 1978. As a child, Avital lived in an apartment building in which his family's upstairs neighbor played the mandolin. Avital became fascinated with the instrument, and when his mother suggested eight-year-old Avi take music lessons, he immediately picked the mandolin. He would later study with violinist Simcha Nathanson, who also led a mandolin orchestra in Be'er Sheva, and went on to attend the Jerusalem Academy of Music, where he also studied with a violinist and learned to transcribe violin pieces for his instrument. Under a grant from the America-Israel Cultural Foundation, Avital also studied at the Cesare Pollini Conservatory of Music in Padua, Italy, and he began composing and researching pieces written with the mandolin in mind, in addition to adapting works composed for other instruments.