A Violinist’s Dream- Deferred; Simone Spadino Pippa and Colorado Chamber Players

by Anne Di Candido Griffin, reprinted with kind permission from January “Andiamo” magazine

Violinist Simone Spadino Pippa

Simone Spadino Pippa, a twenty-two-year-old concert violinist from Potenza, Italy will never forget the Pandemic of 2020. In April 2019, a Potenza friend contacted me about a young musician and family friend. She explained that Simone would be a soloist for a concert series with three Dallas-area symphony orchestras in March 2020. Simone, a graduate of Potenza’s Carlo Gesualdo da Venosa State Conservatory of Music in Potenza was in Switzerland enrolled in a two-year Masterclass program at the Lausanne Institute of Advanced Musical Studies and studying with famed violin virtuoso, Pavel Vernikov. Simone and his parents would be traveling to the Dallas area. Could I help? I was happy to, and Simone called me with several questions about Texas. I promised him that my husband and I would drive up from our San Antonio home to meet him and his parents and to attend one of his concerts.

Simone with Pavel Vernikov, Warsaw

Robert Carter Austin, the Music Director of the Las Colinas, Garland, and Arlington Symphonies had first met Simone in January 2018 while serving as a guest conductor for the Orchestra Sinfonica della Magna Grecia in Taranto, Italy. Simone auditioned to replace a soloist who had fallen ill. Impressed by the young violinist’s technique and musical ability, Austin hoped to select Simone. Unfortunately, a contractual technicality made this impossible, but Austin promised to make it up to him. A year later, Austin invited Simone to be the soloist for three concerts with the Las Colinas, Garland, and Arlington Symphonies beginning March 20, 2020.

Simone and I stayed in touch throughout 2019. Since Denver and Potenza are sister cities, I pursued another idea. As a longtime member of Denver Sister Cities International (DSCI), I contacted Dr. Michael Frank, the former Board President of DSCI and Kathy Jackson the President of the Potenza Committee.
What would they think of inviting Simone to give a Denver concert after the Las Colinas series? Through e-mail and phone conversations, we managed to schedule a small event at a Denver church for the week of March 22nd. DSCI members were excited. Everything was set. What could go wrong?

By early 2020, pandemic reports from Italy were increasingly grim as weekly death tolls skyrocketed. Simone telephoned on March 8th. As a precaution he’d changed his ticket to travel from Munich to Dallas on March 15th to avoid arisky train trip through Northern Italy, an epicenter of coronavirus infection.

On March 11th, I received a WhatsApp message from Antonella. Antonella??? She explained that she was Simone’s mother and asked me to call her. When I reached her, Antonella explained that she and her husband, Gabriele, would not be traveling to Texas due to closure of Italy’s international borders. She was concerned that Simone could be quarantined upon arrival in Dallas. I said I hadn’t heard of any European travelers being quarantined. My husband and I would be traveling to Dallas to meet Simone; I’d be just a phone call away. Once Simone got to Denver, he’d be staying with Dr. Frank and his wife, both
physicians, so they’d know exactly what to do. We had this.

I had spoken too soon. The USA was closed to European visitors that afternoon. When we spoke the next day, Antonella was deeply disappointed. Simone’s first American concerts had been in the
works for more than 18 months. “And I’m not just saying this because he’s my son,” Antonella offered, “but Simone is really talented. He plays with great emotion.” Through Antonella, I learned more about Simone. The child of two musicians, Simone had begun to play a tiny violin at age three and a half. By age eight, Simone was a student at the Potenza Conservatory where visiting artist, Vadim Brodski,the famed Polish-Ukrainian concert violinist, heard him play and offered to teach Simone from his Warsaw home. For seven years, Simone made monthly trips to Warsaw for lessons.

By April, The Las Colinas Symphony had rescheduled Simone’s concerts for February 2021, and DSCI had arranged for Simone, who had returned home to Potenza, to livestream a violin concert on DSCI’s Facebook page on Sunday, April 5th. The Facebook audience, which numbered more than 200 people, was mesmerized by the young virtuoso, and many looked forward to his 2021 concert series. Sadly, due to the fear that the pandemic would cause further issues, the concerts were rescheduled for November 2022 and subsequently canceled yet again.

Colorado Chamber Players quartet

However, Simone is now scheduled for a series of three Dallas-area concerts with the Arlington Symphony, the Garland Symphony, and the Las Colinas Symphony with Juan Carlos Lomonaco, conductor, from February 16-18, 2023. He will also perform in Cherry Hills Village, Colorado with the Colorado Chamber Players and John Hubert, conductor, at Bethany Lutheran Church on
February 21, 2023. In Colorado, Simone will perform Vivaldi’s beloved Four Seasons and the Bb concerto, as well as Sarasate’s Introduction and Tarantella. (See below for ticket information.)

Despite five long years, many cancellations, and seemingly endless frustrations, Simone has never stopped. He earned a Master of Arts in concert performance from the Lausanne Institute under the aegis of Maestro Pavel Vernikov in June 2021; followed by a Certificate of Advanced Studies studying the following year with Maestra Svetlana Makarova. He has performed as a soloist at concerts in Dubai (2021) and Lisbon (2022). As of October 2022, he has begun a two-year course—once again under Pavel Vernikov—in violin performance at the Music and Arts University of the City of Vienna. Simone was one of only four musicians selected for this highly competitive and prestigious program. He very
recently learned that he is also to be a finalist at the Vienna International Music Competition in August 2023 but feels excited that the long-elusive dream of a USA concert series is now within reach.

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