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Busy concertmaster/violinist balances life in Philadelphia and Italy

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Lorenzo Mazzamuto just started the hardest job at an orchestra, one that will also require balancing life in Philadelphia and in Italy. And he’s thrilled for the challenge.

He debuted in April as the concertmaster Teatro Massimo Bellini in Catania, Sicily, beating out numerous other applicants.

Lorenzo Mazzamuto with his 2010 Claude Lebet violin in front of Philadelphia City Hall. | PHOTOS COURTESY OF LORENZO MAZZAMUTO

“The concertmaster is the most diffi cult job in the orchestra,” he explained. “You’re the link between the conductor and the entire orchestra. You have to have the right personality and people skills.” And commitment. And energy. “The job doesn’t end. It’s always something.”

And when a concert ends, he feels a sense of accomplishment, happiness and elation. “To be on stage is like a drug,” he said.

Mazzamuto comes from a family of classical musicians. His mother is a cellist who performed at Teatro Massimo Bellini, and his grandmother also performed there. His father is a cellist, too. “Our family’s story with Teatro Massimo Bellini started more than 100 years ago,” he said.

Mazzamuto (seated, just right of the conductor) in his first concert at concertmaster.

With his parents joking that their cellos are burdens like “big crosses,” he focused on the smaller violin. (True, he’s studied the piano as well.) He began violin lessons at 3 and was accepted into the State Conservatory of Music Vincenzo Bellini at 9. He had his solo debut with an orchestra at 11. He later earned a bachelor’s degree in psychopedagogy.

Mazzamuto, who’s now 36, came to the United States when he was a teenager to perform and study the violin. But he was homesick, so he switched to the Moscow State Tchaikovsky Conservatory to be (relatively) closer to his family in Sicily. That meant he had to learn Russian, adding to the Italian, Sicilian, English and Spanish that he already knew.

He earned his fi rst master’s degree, in violin performance, from the Moscow conservatory and his second, in string pedagogy, with a full scholarship and studying under Eduard Schmieder at Temple’s Boyer College of Music and Dance. In 2019, he was part of the Temple University Studio Orchestra that recorded the Grammy-nominated “Love, a Beautiful Force.” He has been awarded first place in over 30 national and international musical competitions.

The new job joins a long list of other music work. He has played for many important theaters and concert associations in Italy, Europe, Russia and U.S. Since 2004, he has been the first violinist with L’offerta Musicale Ensemble, a contemporary music group. In the United States, he regularly performs as a soloist and also as an orchestra member with the Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia, Academy of Vocal Arts, Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra and other prestigious ensembles. An incomplete version of his résumé fills 13 pages.

“It’s not easy to play the violin so many hours a day,” he said, noting his fi ngers have been stretched longer ever so slightly because of strenuous training and performances (he mostly uses a 2010 Claude Lebet violin), so he works out and swims to keep his body in the best shape.

He and his wife, Patricia Thrasher Mazzamuto, run two businesses together. Royal Savannahs breeds the Savannah, a hybrid of the African serval and the domestic cat. LP Violins sells antique string instruments, rents violins and offers violin lessons (he’s been teaching since 2000). They’re online at www.royalsavannahs.com and https://lpviolins.com.

They are raising their son Leone to be trilingual, with him speaking Italian, her speaking Japanese and both speaking English to the toddler. They live in West Philadelphia, often with a litter of Savannahs.

No surprise, then, that he starts every day with an espresso.

“It was my dream to become a concertmaster,” he said. “And if people have dreams, then they should pursue them,” no matter how daunting they seem.

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