Yoni Avi Battat is a Boston-based performer and teacher, playing viola and violin in a variety of different styles. With strong roots in classical music, he has played across the United States and abroad with a number of professional orchestras and chamber ensembles. An advocate of contemporary music, Yoni works regularly with living composers of all ages to workshop, premiere and record new works. In addition to his work in classical music, Yoni improvises in a number of other musical traditions, from jazz and folk, to middle-eastern, salsa, and klezmer. Through his work in these styles, Yoni aims to increase global awareness and celebrate cultural diversity through music.
An avid chamber musician, Yoni plays in a number of different ensembles throughout the Northeast. He is a core member of VSNY (Virtuoso Soloists of New York), a mixed chamber group that performs new works alongside celebrated masterpieces. Attracting a diverse audience base, VSNY has received high praise for their casual and accessible concert environment, and their exciting programming. In the summer of 2015, Yoni toured Italy with VSNY, premiering works by Italian composer, Mario Pagotto, and American composer, John H. Wallace. In 2016, they will be collaborating with Pagotto to release a complete album of the composer’s music, including a work for solo viola. The CD will be released by an Italian label for international distribution.
Besides his work with VSNY, Yoni has performed with Boston’s Juventas Ensemble as well as festival appearances at Wintergreen Performing Arts, Walnut Hill, and Longy in the Berkshires. Some of his most memorable and formative experiences have been working with members of the Lydian, Muir, Borromeo, Chiara, JACK, and Pacifica string quartets.
Currently rotating as principal violist with Cape Ann Symphony, Yoni is also a seasoned orchestral player. He has held principal positions with the Wintergreen Festival Orchestra and the Brandeis-Wellesley Orchestra (BWO) as well as section positions with the Boston Philharmonic, BU Symphony, and New York Youth Symphony, among others. As the winning soloist of the BWO concerto competition, Yoni was selected to perform William Walton’s Viola Concerto with the orchestra in April of 2012.
At the heart of Yoni’s musical identity lies a deep investment in world music. Over the past ten years, he has co-founded and led numerous Klezmer ensembles, playing and singing the music of the shtetl (Jewish villages of Eastern Europe). His groups ‘Deiskeit, The Klezmaniacs, and The Nu Haven Kapelye have been featured frequently at synagogues, universities and cultural festivals throughout New England. In addition to Klezmer music, Yoni also plays Arabic music on violin and oud (Middle-Eastern lute). He spent three years playing with the Miras Project, where he was privileged to work with incredible musicians from across the Levant. He has supplemented his exploration of these musical styles with academic pursuits in Arabic and Yiddish language as well as ethnomusicological and peace-building coursework. Over the last 6 years, Yoni has had the opportunity to work with some of the world's foremost world-music legends including Pablo Ziegler (Tango), Simon Shaheen (Arabic), and Yair Dalal (Iraqi-Jewish). Yoni’s newest band, Cataklezm, melds traditional Yiddish melodies with Gypsy Jazz, Funk and Swing for a new spin on Jewish music.
Yoni first discovered his love for music when his parents started him on violin lessons at age four. It wasn’t until high school that he realized his true calling: viola. As a student at the Educational Center for the Arts, he immersed himself in music and decided he would pursue it as a career. Yoni received his M.M. in viola performance from Boston University and his B.A. in music from Brandeis University. His primary teachers have been Karen Ritscher, Mary Ruth Ray, Mark Berger and Marvin Warshaw. He has also received guidance playing in masterclasses with Roger Tapping, Stephanie Baer, Jonah Sirota, Katherine Lockwood, Steve Larson, Dmitri Murrath and Masumi per Rostad.
Yoni is pursuing a career in which he can bring his love for world music together with the strong technical and interpretational tools that classical music has given him. He hopes to continue teaching and performing in the classical music canon as well as developing other outlets to inspire, uplift and bring people together through music.
Back to Top