Father-and-daughter duo John and Sara Sant'Ambrogio will perform a Vivaldi double cello concerto as part of the Steamboat Springs Orchestra Valentine Soiree at 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. The concert includes heavy hors d'oeuvres and wine, and will be at the Steamboat Springs Community Center.

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Father-and-daughter duo John and Sara Sant'Ambrogio will perform a Vivaldi double cello concerto as part of the Steamboat Springs Orchestra Valentine Soiree at 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. The concert includes heavy hors d'oeuvres and wine, and will be at the Steamboat Springs Community Center.

Father and daughter cellists enjoy loving musical rivalry

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Past Event

Steamboat Springs Orchestra Valentine Soiree

  • Saturday, February 14, 2009, 5 p.m.
  • Steamboat Springs Community Center, 1605 Lincoln Ave., Steamboat Springs
  • Not available / $125

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When cellists Sara and John Sant'Ambrogio take a stage together, neither part of the daughter-father duo is interested in playing softly to let the other stand out.

"When we play together, there's kind of like a jock rivalry. There's a one-upmanship in a really fun-loving way," Sara Sant'Ambrogio said. "We each think the world of the other one, but we're trying to have fun with each other."

That brand of family-spirited competition will come out Saturday and Sunday in the Sant'Ambrogios' performances of Vivaldi's Double Cello Concerto in G minor. The piece is one of two featured selections on the program for the Steamboat Springs Orchestra's Valentine Soiree. The event, which includes heavy hors d'oeuvres and wine, starts at 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday at the Steamboat Springs Community Center.

Sara Sant'Ambrogio is the Grammy Award winning cellist for the Eroica Trio, and tours internationally with the group and as a soloist. John Sant'Ambrogio retired to Steamboat Springs after spending almost four decades as principal cellist for the St. Louis Symphony; he now sits in the first cello seat with the Steamboat Springs Orchestra.

The pair starting playing the Vivaldi cello piece together when Sara Sant'Ambrogio was young; at that time, John Sant'Ambrogio played the first cello line. Throughout the years, the two musicians have switched roles.

"It was funny, he just assumed that he would take the second cello part," Sara Sant'Ambrogio said. "He had already started practicing the second cello part before I even looked at the music."

There's a lot of interplay and overlapping arranging in the Vivaldi work. The similarities in melody and rhythm highlight the differences in the way John and Sara Sant'Ambrogio approach a piece of music.

"I think it'll be fun for the audience to see basically the same material played very differently," Sara Sant'Ambrogio said. Both players are disciplined and passionate in their work with the cello, but watching one play is a different experience from watching the other.

"We have similar personalities in our personal relationships, but we have very different styles," she said. "I'm much more of a gypsy, and I'm more openly emotive, and he's really elegant."

For the second part of the Valentine Soiree program, Sara Sant'Ambrogio will join 22 members of the Steamboat Springs Orchestra to play the solo part of Haydn's Cello Concerto in C major. The piece, a virtuosic staple in the cello repertoire, was composed in the 1760s. The concerto was considered lost until someone found it in a museum 200 years after it was written.

Tickets for the Valentine Soiree are $125 per person; they are available through the Steamboat Springs Orchestra office and online through the orchestra's Web site.

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