Junior wins MSO Stars of Tomorrow award

Amelia Zitoun, junior and cellist, won the Stars of Tomorrow award, sponsored by the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra (MSO). This contest was open to all Wisconsin string, woodwind, brass, and percussion musicians who range from grades 9-12. The contestants are judged based on a five-minute portion of their selection at the audition. The competition consists of a preliminary round, semi finals and from there three finalists are chosen based on their exceptional performance. Once selected, the soloists may also be eligible for scholarships worth up to $2,000 in total. Additionally, the award provided Zitoun with the opportunity to perform with the MSO in the October 2022 youth concerts, along with a solo at the Stars of Tomorrow concert in May of 2022

Both of Zitoun’s parents are professional cellists, which led her to begin playing cello when she was very young.

 “I started playing when I was five years old…I really [liked] the instrument and I wanted to join the club.”

Along with Zitoun’s parents, the numerous mentors she’s had throughout her blossoming career have influenced her love of music. 

“I have a lot of friends who are musicians that I look up to,” Zitoun said. “My professors as well and of course the greats.”

One of Zitoun’s favorite things about music is being able to listen to it, which is partially why she enjoys  performing for others. 

 “I really like listening to music… and being able to flip that so that I’m able to play music for other people [is amazing],” Zitoun said. 

Although the concert in May went well for Zitoun, the process of preparing beforehand was stressful, as this was Zitoun’s first time playing with a professional orchestra. 

“The rehearsal was a little nerve racking, but it was very, very exciting.”

After performing in May, Zitoun went on to play in seven concerts in October which took a lot of endurance on Zitoun’s part. 

“There was a lot of stamina required because I performed seven times a week… and I think it is really important to be able to give my best for each of the seven,” Zitoun said. 

Not only did the preparation pose a challenge for Zitoun but simply learning the intricate and complicated notes from the arrangement.  

I really like listening to music… and being able to flip that so that I’m able to play music for other people [is amazing].

“The piece itself is really technical so I think that just getting the notes down, first of all, was already [difficult].” 

Along with the technicality of the piece, a challenging aspect of learning new music, according to Zitoun, is conveying all the story the music has to tell while still keeping the listener entertained.

“It’s definitely getting all the nuances in the music and being able to get across the emotion and the story because otherwise it’s so boring to listen to.”

Since the performance, Zitoun has been preparing for upcoming competitions as well as working on the remaining movements of the Barber Cello concerto, as she recently performed the first movement with the symphony in October.

 “A lot of the things that I’m learning right now are things that are just required by competitions… [but] I’m also working on some Bach and some études.”

Regarding the future, Zitoun is unsure about what lies ahead for her with her career as a cellist. 

“I want to continue with music but who I want to study with, where I want to study, [even] what country I want to study in…it’s all unknown right now.”

Overall, Zitoun considers the concerts to be a success and expressed a lot of gratitude for the experience as a whole. 

“I’m grateful for the opportunity to play with the orchestra cause that’s not something that everyone gets to do” Zitoun said. “It was just such a cool experience because everyone seemed really open to have me play with them even though I’m young.”