Virtuosic, innovative and compelling, cellist Theresa Villani is a dynamic, high-energy performing artist who delightfully captivates audiences wherever she appears. Through in-depth research, a unique creative imagination and adept transcription abilities, Ms. Villani has formulated fifteen thematic-based programs that encompass genres from classical to pop which are described on the Concerts Programs page. Her vibrant lush sound and fearless interpretive technical style produce a concert experience not to be missed. Ms. Villani plays on a rare 1873 violoncello made by Asa W. White of Boston, Massachusetts as well as a 1693 Matteo Gofriller copy built in 2015.
Kurt Loft, former music reviewer for The Tampa Tribune, defines Ms. Villani as a “master cellist.” Composer Peter Mathews said of her recording of his Last Song of Summer, “I knew by the way you played the first two notes that it was going to be an exceptional performance.” And Cincinnati composer Rick Sowash, whose music Ms. Villani has recorded extensively, observes, “you play like an angel. . .[also] with conviction, great expression and imagination.”
In 2016, collaborative pianist/composer/arranger Colleen Schmitt and Theresa Villani performed a multi-media concert at the Leepa-Rattner Museum of Art entitled Into the Third Dimension, which was conceived and produced by Ms. Villani, combining a sculpture exhibit with dance and music. It was so successful the museum has invited the duo to create another multi-media concert for a future exhibit.
A uniquely special endeavor for the 2017-18 cultural season will be the presentation of composer Dr. Laurence Sherr’s Music of Resistance and Survival, a power point and music program based on Jewish songs from the ghettos and camps of World War II that Dr. Sherr has intensely researched. This program is being offered around the world, and Ms. Villani has been selected to play the Florida premiere of Mir Zayen do! (We are here!), a sonata for cello and piano that Dr. Sherr composed using as its basis four songs from this era. Details for performance dates and times will be posted on the Events page as they become available. Elegy and Vision, a work for unaccompanied cello also by Dr. Sherr, is included in Ms. Villani’s 2-disc recording, Patterns of Eloquence as well as having been performed by her at notable Holocaust-related events in the Tampa Bay area.
Philadelphia-born, Theresa Villani earned her Bachelor of Music degree, cum laude, from the Philadelphia Musical Academy (now The University of the Arts), and a Master of Music degree from Catholic University, Washington, D.C., earning both on full-tuition scholarships and a fellowship. Studies continued at the Peabody Conservatory of Music at John Hopkins University in Baltimore, where for five years she was enrolled in the Special Graduate Student program. Notable cellists with whom she has studied are Elsa Hilger, Lorne Munroe, and Mihaly Virizlay.
Ms. Villani has concertized extensively along the U.S. east coast as well as appearing in Chicago and Mexico City. Her recital programs—as well as her recordings—are varied and innovative, including little-known compositions of high merit as well as new music of the 20th and 21st centuries. As a performing member for fifteen years with the now defunct Tampa Bay Composers Forum, she premiered numerous new works for cello. Dr. Vernon Taranto, Jr., composed and dedicated his sonata for cello and piano to Ms. Villani, who has subsequently premiered and performed the work throughout the Tampa Bay Florida area as well as in Miami.
Orchestral playing as been an integral aspect of Ms. Villani’s career. She has held the Principal Cello positions with The Northern Virginia Symphony, The Reston Chamber Ensemble, The Washington Singers and Players, The Southwest Florida Symphony, and The Tampa Bay Chamber Orchestra.
The world of early music is another area of musical involvement in which Ms. Villani participates. Her interest in the viola da gamba developed after almost two decades as a professional cellist. Assiduously devoting herself to the genre, she studied under Marjorie Bram-McPhillamy, Katerina Meints, Martha Bishop, Jay Bernfeld, and Sara Cunningham. An Artist Resource Fund grant from Pinellas County enabled her to study viola da gamba and early music performance practice at the prestigious Baroque Performance Institute at The Oberlin Conservatory. The grant also assisted in initiating performances and the development of audience support for early music on the west coast of Florida where she was a founding member of the Tampa Bay Early Music Consort. That ensemble subsequently received a grant from the Hillsborough Arts Council to produce a recording at St. Andrews Church, Tampa, FL.