Artistic Director

Stephanie Sant'Ambrogio

CPMF Founder & Artistic Director

Praised as an “expressive and passionate chamber musician” by the San Antonio Express-News, and described as a “violinist who most often takes your breath away” by Gramophone Magazine, Stephanie Sant’Ambrogio enjoys a varied performing and recording career as a soloist, chamber musician and orchestral leader. Professor of Violin and Viola at the University of Nevada, Reno and member of the Argenta Trio, she is Artistic Director of Cactus Pear Music Festival, which she founded in 1997 while serving as Concertmaster of the San Antonio Symphony. Previously First Assistant Principal Second Violin of The Cleveland Orchestra, under Christoph von Dohnanyi, she toured and recorded internationally with this ensemble for eight seasons.


Ms. Sant’Ambrogio has a discography of over seventy-five orchestral and chamber music CDs. Audiophile Review described her Johannes Brahms: The Violin Sonatas CD as “Fine readings of great finesse, rich coloring and complete understanding.” Her other releases include Late Dates with Mozart; and Going Solo: Unaccompanied Works for Violin & Viola on the MSR Classics label, and Argenta Trio: The Piano Trios of Felix Mendelssohn on Bridge Records. Her Soaring Solo: Unaccompanied Works for Violin & Viola CD will be released in the spring of 2016. She has performed as a soloist and chamber musician throughout the U.S. as well as in Mexico, Canada, Estonia, Sweden, Ghana, Italy, Peru and Chile. In 2010, she won the Alan Bible Teaching Excellence Award at UNR and was also appointed Concertmaster of the Fresno Philharmonic Orchestra by Music Director Theodore Kuchar. In addition to her active performing career, Stephanie is devoted to teaching serious young violinists, many who have won positions in America’s symphonies and universities.


Cactus Pear Music Festival, presents chamber music performances, Young People’s Concerts, Kinder Konzerts, a full scholarship Young Artist Program, American composer commissions and master classes in the South Texas region. In 2004, she was named a Ford Salute to Education Award winner for her outstanding contributions to music education through her creation of Cactus Pear Music Festival and her life’s dedication to teaching violin. In addition to her performances as violinist, violist and Artistic Director of Cactus Pear Music Festival, Ms. Sant’Ambrogio performs and teaches at various festivals including: Music in the Vineyards (CA); Bach, Dancing and Dynamite Society (WI); Orcas Island Chamber Music Festival (WA); Nevada Chamber Music Festival (NV); Round Top Festival Institute (TX) and Tuckamore Festival (Newfoundland, Canada).


Her chamber music activities have included performances and recordings with such noted artists as William Preucil, Ida Kavafian, James Buswell, Richard Goode, David Schifrin, Walter Trampler, Anne Epperson, Jon Kimura Parker and Gunther Schuller. She is featured in chamber music recordings under the Arabesque, Bridge Records and MSR Classics labels, and her live concert performances are frequently heard on National Public Radio’s Performance Today. Ms. Sant’Ambrogio has performed as first violinist with the Miami String Quartet and has been a guest artist with The Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, performing at both the Lincoln and Kennedy Centers. She toured Italy with Mikhail Baryshnikov’s White Oak Dance Project, toured extensively throughout Ohio with Cleveland’s Myriad, and for ten years performed with the Amici String Quartet, of which she was a founding member. Ms. Sant’Ambrogio studied with and was the graduate assistant to Donald Weilerstein at The Eastman School of Music, where she received her Master of Music degree. Previously she received her Bachelor of Music degree with distinction from Indiana University as a scholarship student of Laurence Shapiro and James Buswell.


The name Sant’Ambrogio is frequently found in concert programs throughout America. John Sant’Ambrogio, former Principal Cellist of the Saint Louis Symphony Orchestra, gave his daughter Stephanie her first violin lessons at the age of five. Her sister Sara is a cellist with the Naumberg Award-winning Eroica Trio. For thirty years the Sant’Ambrogio family directed Red Fox Music Camp, which was founded by grandmother Isabelle, a concert pianist. The legacy of teaching music has been passed down in the Sant’Ambrogio family for four generations. Ms. Sant’Ambrogio plays a violin crafted in 1757 by J.B. Guadagnini of Milan, Italy, the city from which the family name Sant'Ambrogio originates. Her viola was made in 2008 by Jacek Zadlo of Chicago. She and her graphic designer husband Gary Albright enjoy traveling with their daughters 20-year-old Isabel and 18-year-old Gabrielle.


Stephanie's first love is chamber music especially when playing with world-class musicians like pianist Ryo Yanagitani

But, it's all about the fun! Since day one it has been about everyone having a great time: artists and audiences.

Collaboration: here Steph works with Pulitizer Prize winning composer Kevin Puts and pianist Jeffrey Sykes.