Dr. Avi Mashiah is a surgeon, specializing in hand surgery, who treats many artists and athletes in Israel. However, many around him do not know that this is not his only job. Mashiah is also a guitarist and a musician. Through the years Avi has been working as a doctor in parallel with his activity as a musician in the blues and classical rock scene in Israel.
What has Chris Cornell got to do with our story you ask? The Orphans at the Door of the Church is the result of the connection between Mashiah and Brian Gibson – the American cello player and music producer who accompanied Cornell for the last two-and-a-half years of his life. Gibson also performed with Cornell in two concerts that took place at the Tel Aviv Hall of Culture and Caesarea. The project of the two is dedicated to Cornell and was inspired by him. The songs were written by Mashiah in his memory.
“Music is one of the most powerful painkillers in our world, and I say this as a doctor,” says Avi.
Avi grew up in a religious home, a member of a well-known cantor family from Afula, and was attracted to blues and rock from childhood. He testifies that his life has changed and so has his approach to music. When Cornell came to Israel again in 2016 with Gibson, Mashiah was there. “I was sitting in the audience with my family,” Mashiah says. “He made us so happy, my little daughter, then 8 years old, brought him a bouquet of flowers to the stage, and he returned it to her with a dedication on the Caesarea stage. I felt I had to repay him for the years of joy, happiness, inner guidance, and power he had given me in his way as an artist who influenced his audience, and gave of himself as no other artist had done before him.”
Mashiah revealed that Cornell was scheduled to perform on his actual birthday, June 20, in the city of Spokane, Washington. “From that moment on, there was no force in the world that could have prevented me from squeezing the universe and meeting him,” he says. “I flew with my 11-year-old son to meet him behind the scenes and say a huge thank you. Peter Cornell, his older brother, joined the celebration. We are still in contact with the production people to this day.”
In the spring of 2017, Mashiah planned to fly to study at New York University. Before flying, he contacted Gibson and asked him if he would be interested in producing one of his songs, as well as a cover of the Beatles’ Birthday song, in honor of Cornell’s 53rd birthday – Gibson agreed.
“I was due to land in New York on May 20,” says Mashiah. “Who could have guessed it would be two days after Chris decided to end his life? Immediately upon landing I called Bryan, both of us shaking and shocked, on either side of the line. I asked him if we should cancel our plans. But he replied that we should meet and do something that would honor his memory. And so, the project was born, which erupted out of loss and pain.”
“The name of the project is taken from Cornell’s song ‘Circling,’” Avi explains. “These are 12 songs, eight originals and four cover versions and original clips, all filmed by my 13-year-old son, Elad, in Israel, the United States, and the world. The project touches on all points in the human life cycle, from birth, childhood, adulthood, aging, death, loss and bereavement, coping with loss and ultimately resurrection and the shattering light at the end of the tunnel.”
Nowadays, still working with Gibson on new materials, Mashiah is in the process of making of an album with the legendary Tuck & Patti, his younghood idols. You can hear the first songs from the project right here.
Never resting, Avi is always creating the next big thing, filled with emotions and wanting to make the world a better place.
We invite you to take a journey to Avi’s world and check out the project and music channels. Do not forget to follow us on social networks for insights and BTS, please tell us what Avi’s music made you feel.