Roberto Cani is the Stuart Canin Concertmaster at the L.A. Opera and a violinist who has performed as a soloist with the Moscow Philharmonic, the Orchestra of La Scala in Milan, RAI Symphony (Italy), Haydn Orchestra of Bolzano, Orchestra Cantelli, Belgrade Orchestra, Zagreb Orchestra and Missouri Chamber Orchestra. In advance of “How Immigrants Composed L.A.”—a Zócalo/Artistic Soirées event, presented in partnership with ASU Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication— Cani joined us in the green room to share his favorite place to go in L.A., making memories in the Amalfi coast, and the first piece of music he heard as a child.
Where’s the most interesting place you’ve played music?
I was preparing for an international competition, and when I got to the city, in Italy, they lost my luggage. So I played at the airport. And it was lovely. I actually got an audience by the end.
Controversial question: If you had to pick, what’s your least favorite instrument?
I like pretty much every instrument. Maybe woodwinds—it’s hard when they practice some of the winds and brass and you hear them for many hours, it’s tiring. And violin, of course, it’s tiring. But of course, I play it.
Where’s your favorite place to go in Los Angeles?
My family loves Will Rogers Park. We always take our daughter there. The hikes are beautiful.
What’s the last book you loved?
I’m Italian, and I read a lot of books in Italian. I just got a book about the life of Primo Levi. He was Italian and he was Jewish and a survivor of a concentration camp. And they wrote a story about him, and it was very touching.
Where was your favorite place to go growing up in Italy?
The Amalfi Coast. I went there several times. I even took my wife there for our honeymoon. It’s beautiful. So beautiful. There’s a town there called Positano—it’s funny because I had a music festival in Positano, and we had students coming there from all over, so we basically met everyone there. And so when I went back on my honeymoon, they remembered us and they gave us free food. It was really nice. Very special.
What’s your favorite guilty pleasure?
I cannot eat sweets, but I do like them. So when my wife is not around, I go and eat some sweets.
What’s a composition that’s inspired you?
The first piece I heard when I was a kid, it was a concerto by Tchaikovsky. That’s how I wanted to start playing the violin. My father took me, and I was so inspired that I had to play the violin on the concerto. But then, growing up, of course, I discovered so much music. Bach and Mozart for me are the best. For me, I call it magic. Because sometimes [listening to them] you get this feeling of being in another world. You get so deep into the music that you’re in a different world.