Steamboat’s Chief Theater to host Duel of the Strings |

Steamboat’s Chief Theater to host Duel of the Strings

Luke Graham

— John Sant'Ambrogio and Mak Grgic sat inside the Chief Theater on Thursday tuning their respective instruments.

It was a music lesson in itself.

Sant'Ambrogio began on his cello. One note led to another while Grgic sat and listened intently with his guitar.

Eventually, Grgic broke out a nail file to manicure his nails.

"I bet you've never seen a man do this," he said.

Then they started, and there was hope in the empty theater that it wouldn't end.

Recommended Stories For You

The cello and the guitar play off each other in a unique way, a couple of close brothers ganging on the younger sibling.

"It's an incredible combination," Sant'Ambrogio said.

The two will debut Sant'Ambrogio's new venture, The Friends and Family Concert Series, this weekend.

Duel of the Strings with Sant'Ambrogio and Grgic will be at 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday at the Chief Theater.

Tickets are $20 for adults or $5 for students. They are available by visiting or at the door if available.

"The mentor-mentee relationship provides a lot of positive learning experience," Grgic said. "Of course, it's just plain fun."

The partnership took shape three years ago at a festival in Lancaster, Ohio. Grgic was playing a solo show outdoors, and Sant'Ambrogio was taken aback by the young man’s talent.

He approached him, and they talked about doing a show.

Grgic eventually ended up out in California, where Sant'Ambrogio was, and the two connected for several shows.

In total, they have done seven together.

"He's an incredible artist and guitar player," Sant'Ambrogio said. "He's probably one of the best in the world."

Grgic grew up in Slovenia and started playing guitar at age 11. He initially didn't want to play the guitar, but his father's wisdom took over.

"Dad just said the guitar is cool," Grgic said.

Grgic is getting his doctorate in music from the University of Southern California. He said he likes the guitar, but in the classical community, the guitar usually is just a soloist.

One of the unique aspects of the performance is that the duo play the Vivaldi sonatas together. The part of the guitar usually is done on a harp, but Grgic's incredible ability along with Sant'Ambrogio's strong cello sound make the sonatas really pop.

"It really should be for everybody," said Sant'Ambrogio, who is planning the second part of the series in May. "I think everybody will find something in it they like."

To reach Luke Graham, call 970-871-4229, email or follow him on Twitter @LukeGraham

Go back to article