Cellist, storyteller John Sant’Ambrogio performs tonight
July 15, 2010
Steamboat Springs — John Sant'Ambrogio destroyed the Boston Symphony just once.
He also destroyed the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra three times.
Now retired to Steamboat Springs, the longtime cellist is busier than ever, spending his time reliving disastrous yet humorous moments from his 46-year musical career and forging new ones in performances across the country.
More than just a cellist, Sant'Ambrogio uses those moments to tell stories of music and its life lessons.
"What I did was I made something happen on the stage which was just chaos," he said. "But keep in mind, I've played about 10,000 concerts. So it's fun to go back and look at those more humorous things."
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Like the story of how he embarrassed himself in front of his cellist idol Pablo Casals, which will be just one of many Sant'Ambrogio might share — and embellish upon with the help of his cello — at an event tonight at Epilogue Book Co.
Beginning at 7 p.m., the storyteller and musician will perform in the comfort of the bookstore. Refreshments will be served at 6:30 p.m.
Epilogue owner Erica Fogue called Sant'Ambrogio a "Steamboat treasure," and said the store is looking forward to the performance.
"We thought it'd be great to have an intimate gathering of his friends and fans," Fogue said. "We've been looking forward to having it at the store. It's the perfect ambiance for his playing and storytelling."
Sant'Ambrogio will tell several stories from his recently released book, "The Day I Almost Destroyed the Boston Symphony," while accompanying himself on the cello.
He'll use his instrument to illustrate the stories with examples of several often-humorous disasters in his career.
"The reason I wrote the book was because there was so much that had happened, and I wanted to get people interested in symphony orchestras," he said. "If you use a sense of humor at times and you tell behind-the-scenes events, it gives people some insight.
"I only want to sell books because I want to spread the word and get people interested in music. It's an opportunity to share my joy of the things I've done in my life."
His tales translate well into stories because orchestra is a metaphor for life, he said.
The evolution of the orchestra parallels social and cultural changes, like the progression of women's rights.
But the orchestra also can teach valuable lessons in morality and integrity. It's tolerance, understanding and listening that he hopes to share in his book and live storytelling performances.
"If you want to get along with someone, if you want to really make something work, you have to be able to listen to each other," Sant'Ambrogio said.
"In an orchestra, everyone's listening to everybody else. If you don't listen, if you don't take into consideration what other people are doing, you don't have harmony."
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