Visionary Composer and Jazz Bassist Visits MSU
Visiting artist Omer Avital performs at Wharton Center and conducts master class with MSU jazz students.
Greater Lansing residents and the campus community got the rare opportunity to experience the work of internationally known jazz bassist Omer Avital. More than 300 patrons filled Whaton Center’s Pasant Theatre to see the concert on February 12. While on campus, Avital took time to mentor MSU jazz students and share his musical experience in a classroom setting.
The MSU College of Music and the MSU Jazz Studies Program co-sponsored the event, which was supported by the Stanley and Selma Hollander Fund for Jewish Music and Art.
“We were pleased to participate with the College of Music in hosting some of Israel's top artists, including Omer Avital and Eli Degibri, two winners of the Israel Prime Minister Prize,” says Kenneth Waltzer, director of Jewish Studies at MSU. “His visit was an extraordinary experience for us all.”
Avital's genre-defying compositions synthesize American jazz, Israeli, Yemeni, Moroccan and Arab styles of music. “We all absolutely loved his concert,” says Rodney Whitaker, director of Jazz Studies. “Avital and his group make jazz music with an edge. An American jazz fusion with a Middle Eastern flair that’s unique and lively. Our students really benefited from his presence, personally, and professionally.”
Born and raised in Israel, Avital was influenced by the music of his native land, including Israeli folk songs and Arabic and Mediterranean popular music. He moved to New York in 1992, toured with various well-known artists, and then produced his first album. He later returned to Israel to explore his musical heritage and bring newly discovered influences back to New York for his current release Suite of the East, and upcoming album New Song.