We had the good fortune of connecting with Simone Vitucci and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Simone, why did you pursue a creative career?
I started to play cello just before my 10th birthday, and found myself mesmerized from the start. Hours would pass, almost unnoticed, as I tried to get a beautiful tone out of the instrument and inject musical character into the rudimentary pieces I was learning. I never really thought about what I would do as a profession, but kept honing my skills, driven both by a true love for the instrument and the gorgeous music written for it, all while being cheered on by my parents and inspiring cello teacher. By the time I was 15 I had played solo with the Cape Town Symphony orchestra (my hometown orchestra), and won numerous awards and accolades. The following year I was gifted a beautiful old French cello and traveled to the United States for the first time to attend the Interlochen music festival on a full scholarship, with an anonymously donated airfare – thank you, whoever you may be! When I finished high school, I was offered full scholarships to multiple Universities in the United States, including Notre Dame and Yale. My career path seemed predetermined, so much so that I never even had a conversation with my parents about appropriate or sensible professional goals. I should note that my parents are artists themselves (e.g. https://www.uranovsky.com), so creativity, self-expression and artistic endeavors are highly valued. It is perhaps unsurprising then that one sister became a professional violinist (https://www.saritauranovsky.com), and one brother a wizard with glass art (https://barakglassart.com). My two youngest siblings chose different, but also creative career paths – (one is an architect, the other owns the marvelous Pizzarelli’s pizzeria in Scarsdale, NY). I finished my schooling in the US without too many hiccups, although it was tough being on a different continent from my family. I got a visa to work in the States, followed by my green card and then citizenship, all the while paying my way by making music. After college I lived for a while in NYC, where alongside my music work, I dabbled in prop styling and had a vintage clothing business on the side, but eventually settled in Los Angeles. With the move to the west coast I made the decision to dedicate my professional endeavors solely to making music, and to focus on maintaining a high level of playing. I know an artistic career can be unpredictable, with many ups and downs, but for me it has seemed inevitable from the start. Despite the hardships, it has been worthwhile.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
As a cellist, I think my unique gift is my expressive playing. I have occasionally been accused of playing with too much passion, a criticism which I secretly take as a compliment – expression need not come at the detriment of the music, which as an art, is all about interpretation. Some aspects of my career have been easy, while others have seemed like insurmountable hurdles. In Los Angeles I have had moments of great success, followed by fallow times with little to no opportunities. It is not always clear why one day you’re in and the next you’re out, and if I reflect too long on the countless unknowable possibilities for my temporary misfortune, I end up in a vicious spiral of self doubt. So I am learning to trust that these slow times are in fact firstly, out of my control, and secondly, temporary. As long as I am pursuing music, I am, in fact, living the dream.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
The pandemic has put a halt to many fun activities, but in a more ideal time I’d bring a visiting friend to some of my favorite spots in LA, including the Huntington Library, the Griffith Observatory, the Arboretum for peacock viewing and the Broad and Wende Museums. I am rather fond of thrift shopping, so any visiting friend of mine will likely get roped into that too, including the great outdoor flea markets. One of the cool things about LA is that you can just as easily take a stroll on the beach as hike in the mountains, or do both. I know there are many wonderful restaurants in LA, but lately I find myself happy to get take out from Tel Aviv Grill or Lemongrass Chateau and eat in one of many quaint outdoor parks.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
There are so many people to give credit to, but let’s narrow it down to: My parents, for always encouraging me in my artistic pursuits. My cello teachers and mentors (especially Cheryl de Havilland and Karen Buranskas), for their many invaluable lessons in the art of music making and life. My creative siblings – the give and take among us has taught me plenty. And my partner, Ant, for his steadfast and unedited honesty, which helps keep me on track.
Facebook: Simone Vitucci