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This Classical Mandolinist Makes Music With…Instagram?

“InstaConcerto for Mandolin and Orchestra” plays with a genre known more for its selfies than its chamber music

Avi Avital is the featured performer in "InstaConcerto for Mandolin and Orchestra," a 75-second concerto written for Instagram. (Harald Hoffman/Deutsche Grammophon)
smithsonian.com

What do you think of when you think of Instagram? If the word “selfie” comes to mind, you’re getting warm—the site has sparked over 250 million to date and gained a reputation as a place where smartphone-toting users curate an enhanced version of real life. But one artist wants to make the social media platform about more than fish gapes and filters. He’s bringing classical music into the mix, the AFP reports, by launching a concerto composed just for Instagram.

Israeli mandolinist Avi Avital recently launched the social media experiment, the AFP writes. In his inaugural Instagram post, Avital writes that the mandolin concerto will have five, 15-second movements posted every day this week. Each movement will be posted exclusively on Avital’s Insta at @aviavital with the hashtag #InstaConcerto.

Peter Breiner, who composed the concerto, is a Slovak composer, conductor and pianist known for creating unusual arrangements of popular songs. (One of his most popular albums is called "Beatles Go Baroque" and features the Fab Four played in the manner of classic composers like Vivaldi.) That sense of daring seems like the perfect match for a social media platform that has changed everything from fashion to food since its inception.

Composing and performing a concerto for a visual medium presents a few challenges—the trickiest of which is Instagram’s own restriction on video length. Since the platform at first only allowed 15-second videos, Breiner and Avital settled on that as the standard length for each movement. Check out the rousing overture, which is the piece's first movement:

That’s a bit shorter than the norm, to say the least. Classical concertos are often presented in three extended movements with a fast-slow-fast format. However, there are variations to that theme, and the word “concerto” often just means a concert or a piece of music. Talk about Instagram ready.

So far, Avital has posted three segments of “InstaConcerto for Mandolin and Orchestra,” which he performs with the Kremerata Baltica Chamber Orchestra. Perhaps the new format will spur an entire classical music genre. At the very least, it’s a reminder that Instagram can be a platform for more than just a filtered selfie.

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