Backstage: Holly Piccoli

Thursday, April 1

Get to know the musicians of the Omaha Symphony from backstage.

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Not up close but still personal: Holly Piccoli, violin

Welcome to our blog series, Backstage—in each installment, we feature a different Omaha Symphony musician as they chat with us about their musical lives, how they got here, their insights on musicianship, and lots more.

Recently, we caught up with Omaha Symphony violinist Holly Piccoli before a performance at the Holland Performing Arts Center. She's originally an Aussie, but we're glad to have her here in Omaha—she began playing with the symphony in 2017 but officially won her job in 2018. She talked with us about violin excerpts, desert island pieces, her love of beautiful Omaha houses, and lots more!

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Where are you from originally?

I am originally from Melbourne, Australia!

How did you choose your instrument?

I asked for a violin for Christmas when I was 7, my mum thinks I wanted to play because my cousin had just started on cello. We both turned into professional musicians!

What’s your favorite thing about being a musician?

Many favourites, but ultimately, I love the sensation of playing violin and being capable of playing so much music at a level I enjoy listening to.

What’s something people might not know about being a professional musician?

You can’t become a professional musician without hard work. The hard work doesn’t stop either. You’re always learning new music and refining skills, you just get faster at it all. It’s a satisfying and sometimes therapeutic job.

What's your favorite thing about Omaha?

I really like walking my dog Sally around Omaha, in particular the Gold Coast of beautiful mansions! Sally tries to catch all the bunnies she sees, and there are lots of them!

What’s your favorite Omaha restaurant?

I love the soup and bread at La Buvette. Always a winner.

What about the Omaha community is special to you?

I have enjoyed getting to know Omaha as a city of people who love their town, their historic homes, and all types of music!

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What do you like to do when you’re not playing music?

When not playing music I like to watch tv with my husband, or draw how I imagine renovating my house, or do some Yoga with Adriene on YouTube, she’s amazing!

If you could choose another instrument of the orchestra instead of the one you play, which would it be?

I’d like to play bass clarinet for the "Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairies" in The Nutcracker. I’d also love to play any instrument in Big Band!

If you weren’t a musician, what would you be doing for a career?

I really enjoy real estate and have imagined being a realtor.

What would you tell someone who has never been to the symphony but is interested in attending a performance?

I think listening to the music you’ll hear at the concert ahead of time is a good way to get involved with the whole experience. There is a relationship that grows the more you know the music. It can be a powerful experience.

What do you wish you had known as a student?

Violin excerpts will be very important and are more difficult to prepare than your recital. Start now.

What’s the best piece of advice (musical or otherwise) you ever received?

Prior to my graduation recital from my teacher: "Go out there and listen, you’ll like what you hear."

What advice would you give someone looking to live a more musical life?

Pick up an instrument at any age, listen to live music, put your Spotify on random, discover what else you like to listen to.

What are your top three desert island pieces?

Bach: anything; Arvo Pärt: Spiegel Im Spiegel; Mahler: Adagio (I'm sad about all the music I didn’t include!)

What piece made you fall in love with classical music?

No single piece made me fall in love with classical music. So, my answer is the first piece I really loved playing was Glazunov Violin Concerto.

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Catch Holly and the rest of the musicians of the Omaha Symphony this spring—check out our full spring 2021 line-up here. Tickets are on sale now!

Meet the rest of the orchestra here.

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