Sophomore cellist excels in musical endeavors

Not every high school musician grows up with two professional cellists for parents, but Amelia Zitoun, sophomore, had that unique experience. Zitoun’s love for music started from a very young age.

“I think I started playing when I was five years old. I remember the first time I played cello, it was way too big for me,” Zitoun said.

From teachers to parents, Zitoun has had a lot of guidance during her journey in the musical world. Zitoun’s mother freelances, teaches cello and runs a business called Gabriel’s Horns that coordinates musical gigs for events, like weddings. Her father is a musician in the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra.

“[When I started playing], my mom would sit with me every day and practice. I used to have little charts and they would have days when you would practice and you would get a smiley face.”

More recently, Zitoun’s has taken inspiration from peers who also have a shared passion for classical music.

“There was always music in the household from day one. I can go back to home videos and there’s always something playing in the background. [However], in the last two to three years, seeing other young people my age who also felt so attached to music, it really sparked something and I just never wanted to stop that.”

There was always music in the household from day one,

— Amelia Zitoun

Working with others has opened up opportunities for Zitoun to learn and experiment in chamber music. While she enjoys playing both chamber music and solo pieces, chamber music stands-out as an opportunity to connect with other musicians.

“You get so close with these other musicians and you rehearse with them, and you really mold your sounds together [and] the end product is always something so satisfying.”

Due to the wide variety of pieces and genres, it is difficult for Zitoun to pick a favorite piece. But having spent so much time around music, there is one that stands out to her.

“I’d say my favorite cello piece is the Schumann Cello Concerto. It’s so majestic and so beautiful. I can listen to it for hours on end.”

Zitoun is currently working on several pieces, including Tchaikovsky’s Rococo Variations, Bach Second Cello Suite, Beethoven’s Third Sonata and more.

“I’m [also] preparing for some competitions. I have recordings in about a month, which is a little scary.”

Similar to other musicians, Zitoun has faced many musical challenges and is always working to improve.

“I think one thing that every single musician, with any instrument deals with, is physical tension in your body. So, I always try to feel really relaxed when I play.”

[Performing is] something that is so satisfying,

— Amelia Zitoun

After she graduates high school, Zitoun plans to continue progressing in her musical career.

“Straight after high school, the plan is to go to some sort of music university, school, conservatory. That, I guess, is something in the forefront of my mind.”

Overall, Zitoun is excited to continue learning and improving her cello playing ability, regardless of the hardships along the way. 

“[Performing is] something that is so satisfying,” Zitoun said. “After working on something for a month and then finally performing, when you’re done, you just kind of have this breath of fresh air, and it just takes over you. All that work is behind [you], and now [you] can start something new. I don’t really want to lose that feeling.”