Viola D’Ambrosio approaches her work and education in the arts like an athlete. “I’m always trying to improve,” she says. As a professional violinist, she is a disciplined student, familiar with hard work. Three years ago she was living in Italy; this May she is graduating from the Master of Professional Studies in Arts and Cultural Leadership program.
Art as Purpose
After years of teaching music and playing violin, D’Ambrosio felt the “need to do something fresh, to make an impact on a larger scale.” From her home in central Italy she began to research master’s programs. Soon, an opportunity arose to study in the United States, and she visited the Twin Cities.
“I was shocked to see the amount of arts organizations and the attachment to the arts here,” she remembers. The cultural scene—the music, museums, people, and opportunities—made a lasting impression.
As a child, D’Ambrosio was surrounded by living history through architecture, paintings, and music. Her parents were passionate about the arts, filling the house with music and books. She read hungrily, visited museums, and began to play the violin when she was eight.
She did not take her rich childhood for granted and feels driven to expose others to the arts. “People need beauty in their lives,” she says. “I was lucky enough to grow up surrounded by beauty; it brings people together.”
Finding Her Footing
After reaching the Twin Cities, D’Ambrosio threw herself into her ACL studies, taking six credits per term, working at the Minnesota Children’s Museum, and completing internships with the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra’s Liquid Music Series and Geoffrey M. Curley & Associates. She also sat on the board of the Schubert Club, an organization that fosters community through concerts, education, exhibits, and scholarships.
"This program is helping me see that I can express and share my multiple passions.”
“I had to do everything from scratch, even networking,” D’Ambrosio says of her adjustment. “It was all new to me. I wanted to experience as much as possible.”
The ACL program is a good fit for her, she believes, because it allows her to explore the topics that interest her the most. “I don’t fit into one box,” she explains. “This program is helping me see that I can express and share my multiple passions.”
D’Ambrosio will begin a new internship soon at the Weisman Museum, where she will assist the senior curator in finding ways to incorporate music into the museum environment. She is tasked with creating an unconventional, immersive experience by “bringing a voice to the objects.”
In addition, her capstone project explores how museums might increase engagement through interactive participation and new technologies.
It looks as though, an ocean away from home, D’Ambrosio has found a second cultural community. “I finally feel like something is happening. My two passions, history and art, are converging.”
Pro Tip for Students
“Have contact with other students to get better insight into the program. Appreciate the connections. Prioritize your work.”