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Sun Valley Music Festival Musicians Serve Up a Little Lunchtime Music
Tuesday, August 31, 2021


The world’s great classical music doesn’t always get played on a stage.

As the Sun Valley Music Festival came to a finish, four of its musicians turned up in the dining room of the Senior Connection, playing away on their bass, cello and violins as seniors ate their lunch of chicken and lemon cake.

The musicians were double bass player Stephen Tramontozzi, cellist Amos Yang and violin players Alicia Yang and Andrea Jarrett. They’d been invited by Marie Gallo, who hosted two of the musicians during the three-week festival.

“We love to play and we have a very friendly audience here. It’s not formal so it’s fun,” said Tramontozzi, who led the other three in playing a cello and bass duet, fiddler Mark O’Connor’s “Appalachian Waltz” and Michael Haydn’s “Divertimento in C Major.”

Tramontozzi, assistant principal bass for the San Francisco Symphony, has been performing with the Sun Valley Music Festival since 2004. His father was an accordion player who played concerts, bat mitzvahs and, of course, polka dances.

Papa Tramontozzi taught his sons the accordion and piano as soon as they graduated from the crib. And, when it came time to choose a band instrument in school, Stephen’s older brother picked the cello.

“Being very competitive, I wanted to play it too. But the teacher said they already had enough cellos so that I should pick the bass. I loved it because it was bigger than my brother’s cello,” said Tramontozzi, whose 6-foot-5 frame is a perfect fit for such a tall instrument.

Tramontozzi teaches at the University of California-Berkeley. So, when the pandemic disrupted life as we know it, he had to learn to teach over the internet. Like other musicians with the Sun Valley Music Festival, he also learned the fine art of videotaping performances for Sun Valley audiences to watch on the Pavilion lawn Jumbotron.

“It was very disappointing not to be able to come to Sun Valley last year. My four children grew up hiking and biking here so we missed that,” said Tramontozzi, who has a 27-year-old son and 25-year-old triplets. “And we also missed the community—it’s so warm and welcoming.”

Tramontozzi said he also missed the opportunity to see fellow Music Festival musicians who come from throughout the United States and Cana.

“It’s wonderful to play with these musicians that we don’t normally get to see during the course of a year.”

Hailey resident Betty Grant’s face beamed as she listened to the musicians play.

“My dad used to play violin, and the music is something that’s so restful,” she said. “It sends me to another world.”

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