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October 8, 2010
By Nonie Wainwright
The 2009 Alan Bible Teaching Excellence Award recipient, Stephanie Sant’Ambrogio, will showcase her superlative teaching and performing skills at the second annual L-Cubed series, set to begin on Oct. 13. Sant’Ambrogio is an assistant professor of violin and viola and director of the Orchestral Career Studies graduate program at the University of Nevada, Reno and has created the “L-Cubed: Look, Lunch and Listen” concert series to incorporate her educational and performance skills for students.
“What makes me a good teacher is that I put my students first; they are the customers,” Sant’Ambrogio said. “I am there to serve them, to make them feel comfortable, and able to ask any question that comes to mind. L-Cubed is the perfect opportunity for students to engage with me in a recital-like atmosphere and give them the performance experience that they need to grow and improve as performers.”
The Alan Bible Teaching Excellence Award is awarded to University faculty members within the College of Liberal Arts. The award’s recipients exemplify outstanding teaching methods within the classroom.
“I am very honored and grateful to have received this award,” Sant’Ambrogio said. “Although I am considered ‘junior faculty,’ I have been teaching my whole life and this is finally recognition for all the years that I have dedicated to teaching.”
Sant’Ambrogio’s passion for music and teaching was heavily influenced by her family.
She comes from a long line of classical musicians tracing back to her great-grandmother, who thrived by playing music and teaching lessons in wealthy neighborhoods of New Jersey. Next in line were her grandmother, a piano prodigy, and her father, who recently retired as Principal Cello of the St. Louis Symphony.
Sant’ Ambrogio began playing the violin at five and started teaching while she was in sixth grade. She taught a young third-grade girl for half an hour every week in exchange for a bag of chocolate chip cookies baked by the student’s mother.
“I always associated teaching with sweetness,” Sant’Ambrogio said.
According to one of Sant’Ambrogio’s graduate students, Roberta Franca, the meaning behind the teaching award, to build morale and enthusiasm among the staff in the School of the Arts, aptly describes Sant’Ambrogio.
“She’s very task-driven,” Franca said. “If she wants to do something, she will do it. She’s truly a great role model who cares for her students. She is not just in her studio, but she knows what’s going on within the music world and she makes it a reality for us.”
Franca is in her second year of the Orchestral Career Studies graduate program and credits her decision to come to Nevada after watching Sant’Ambrogio perform at the University of Missouri.
“I went to watch her perform as a soloist and said to myself, ‘I want to play like that,’” Franca said. “I approached her after the show and she offered to give me a 30-minute lesson. That lesson turned into an hour and led to my choice to come to Nevada and learn from Stephanie.”
L-Cubed is a dynamic new series of concerts and exhibitions showcasing Nevada's Department of Music and Department of Art students and faculty, directed by Sant’Ambrogio. Franca has performed three times at the 2009 L-Cubed series along with Sant’Ambrogio and plans to audition for the 2010 series as well. Auditions are held weekly as students try out to be included in the coming week’s performance.
“L-Cubed is a great opportunity for students to perform in a public setting,” Franca said. “It’s a different setting, not like a concert hall, and there are some distractions so it is good practice for a big recital. It is an intimate setting; you can actually see the audience and see their reactions to the music.”
L-Cubed is a free event with performances every Wednesday, noon to 1 p.m., starting on Oct. 13 and runs until Dec. 1 in the Frank and Joan Randall Rotunda, Mathewson-IGT Knowledge Center.
“I hope I inspire my students,” Sant’Ambrogio said. “I hope that they see that I walk the talk and practice what I preach about stage presence and playing different styles of music. I want to inspire and encourage them to be creative and entrepreneurial themselves.”