We had the good fortune of connecting with Laura Cividino and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Laura, what role has risk played in your life or career?
Life can be very ironic at times…I used to love having control over everything that happened in my life. Every hour of my day was filled with a task or something to do. I loved being constantly busy and have long term plans that I could foresee unfolding on a schedule. That said, my move here to the United States from Italy 10 years ago, presented me with a blank panel, a new page of my life that I didn’t and couldn’t control one hundred percent. I was leaving behind a place I had known for my whole life, where I knew the language, the traditions, the rules of engagement, the good and the bad. I had already built a life for myself over there, so what was this need of exploration, this need of escaping that life that I knew so well, why was the unknown so exciting and scary at the same time? I must admit that prior to my arrival here my plan was to stay two years, for my Master and then go back home. I felt like two years were a time long enough for me to get new experiences, meet new people, make new connections, but that in the end I would have returned home. Little did I know, that this place would become my home, I would call friends my new family, and I would be happy to build a new life away from home. The unknown of a new place, new language (I almost forgot Italian in my first two years), new people, shaped a different me, one that allows spontaneity, that takes chances and leaps of faith. I have taken trips or jobs or accepted invitations, changes of plans, with so much ease that I almost didn’t recognize myself. The whole experience has helped me get more confident about my own decisions and choices, The past couple of years in particular led to the founding of “Carya String Quartet,” a chamber music group composed of two violinists (Eugeniu Cheremoush and myself), a violist (Rainey Weber, my very good friend and Partner in Crime), and a cellist (Sonya Matoussova). As you read the names of the musicians, you can tell we are all coming from different places: Eugeniu from Moldova, me from Italy, Rainey from New Mexico and Sonya from Russia/Canada. Each of us has had their changing experiences, took chances that eventually brought us to all live in this incredibly dynamic city that has so much to offer to young artists. One of the things I love the most about this group is that we are very good friends and we enjoy spending time together, which I believe also allows us to play together well, in harmony, understanding each other’s individuality and yet creating something together that goes beyond the thinking of four people. We started this project with the intent to bring chamber music to people that otherwise would not be exposed to it, playing in unusual settings (such as coffee shops) as well as in concert halls and churches. To expand our reach to the newest generations, we have also created programs tailored for schools, from elementary to high school, that would either have an already ongoing music program or on the other hand would not have any exposure to music at all. Our activity had an abrupt stop last March with the advent of the Pandemic, but we decided to try something new and started recording videos remotely. We had to challenge ourselves to find new ways to still have an impact on the life of the community even if apart. We learned how to create videos with good quality audio and keep doing what we love in difficult times. In conclusion, I would say that risk is part of everyone’s life, and all we can do is embrace the challenge, act with positive energy and intentions, so that we can overcome any possible obstacle and achieve our goals. I am still a very organized person, but life changes helped me being more flexible.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
I am a violinist, violist and pianist teaching and freelancing here in Houston. I love teaching young students, as they are the musicians and the listeners of the future. I also love playing chamber music and in orchestra, so I work with my friends of the Carya String Quartet, the Houston New Arts Movement and the Symphony of South-East Texas. I also play baroque violin and perform with the Bach Society Houston and Austin Baroque Orchestra. I enjoy very much being a versatile musician, with different skills to use, different instruments to play, kind of like many different shoes to wear. Getting to where I am now in my life, doing exactly what I like with the people I like has not been always easy and straightforward. However, I cannot say enough how grateful I am to my teachers, friends and colleagues for their support and for the doors they opened for me. I have been blessed with a lot of great opportunities and I am glad to have gotten here. One of the things I am most proud of is definitely the foundation of “Carya String Quartet”, as it has always been my dream to play in a professional chamber group and play the beautiful repertoire written for it. This is even better than my dream was, as I get to play with three really good friends, and we share our music with this wonderful community, in schools and concert halls as well as in unconventional venues. One of the hardest things of creating a group of this kind, is that all four members need to have the same vision about the group, need to share its deep motivations, be willing to sacrifice time and energy for its success. I have learned with time that if not everyone has the same goal, or if the relationship among the members gets ruined, things will not work professionally. It is a hard environment.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
Houston is a wonderful place to live in, maybe not as pretty as Italy, but the city offers a lot of great activities and places to see. Maybe not in these crazy months of the pandemic, but if I had a friend visiting, I would definitely bring them to see the beautiful Art Museum and the Menil Collection, the Health Museum and the Science Museum, in particular its butterfly garden. I would take them to Hermann Park as well as to Memorial Park to see the beautiful green parts of the city. I would then entertain them with the amazing Theaters: going to the Opera, the Ballet, the Symphony, watch a play at Alley Theater…maybe an outdoor concert at the Miller Outdoor Theater. As for the food, so much amazing food!!!! I would consider some delicious barbecue from Goode Company, or some tacos from Brother’s Taco or La Mexicana, some delicious Indian food from Shiva or from Himalaya, some good Italian at Giacomo’s or at Piola, some sushi from Ka, burgers from the Burger Joint… It would be great to hang out in Midtown as well as in the Heights, with their special atmospheres… I would also take my Italian friends to a Grocery Store here, they are so different as they have EVERYTHING!!! including clothes! I would definitely bring them shopping at the Galleria or at Highland Village, as well as at the Outlets on 290 or at Katy Mills.
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?
My best friend and Partner in Crime, Rainey Weber, incredible violist, teacher and friend!
Facebook: Laura Cividino
First picture: Carya String Quartet, Photo by Natalie Gaynor Second picture: Laura Cividino, Photo by Pin Lim