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#1: Take a bow: Classical violinist Flavia Zappa also a long-distanceswimmer; but not related to FZ

Posted on 2006-07-04 18:47:39 by caltrop

Jul. 04, 2006

Take a bow: Classical violinist Flavia Zappa also a long-distance swimmer

The Herald
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The strains of Tchaikovsky floated throughout the condominium as
Flavia Zappa played her violin.

It was a rare moment of downtime for the 39-year-old Cleveland native.

&quot;I like Tchaikovsky and Rachmaninov a lot,&quot; she said. &quot;It's very
emotional music about passion, love, pain, loss. It's a cartharsis for

It's also a job.

Zappa is a professional musician and plays violin with the Florida
West Coast Symphony in Sarasota. She is one of 26 section violinists
in the symphony, which numbers at least 80 musicians. She has been
with the symphony off and on since 1991. She plays about a dozen
concerts each season, which runs from October through May.

&quot;She is what we'd call a 'long-timer,' &quot; said Pat Joslyn, the
symphony's artistic administrator.

Though a modest woman, Zappa enjoys the reaction of others after they
ask what she does for a living.

&quot;Some say, 'What's a classical musician?' Others say how lucky I am,&quot;
she said.

It's also hard work.

For master works concerts, featuring music by the classical composers,
there may be four to five rehearsals weekly, followed by three to four
performances on the weekend. Rehearsals for pop concerts, with music
like The Beatles, are half as many.

&quot;It's pretty intense,&quot; Zappa said. &quot;You need passion for it. You have
to really love it. You need drive and dedication and discipline. It's
a little hard when you're also working during the day - house sitting,
working at the (symphony) box office, or at the YMCA.&quot;

So what does Zappa do for fun?

Long-distance swimming, for one thing.

Zappa is a member of the St. Petersburg Masters Swim Team, something
she said she &quot;dabbles in when I can, but when a race is coming up I
will spend more time. There's something calming about being in the
water. It's good exercise and it's fun to challenge myself, see how
far I can go.&quot;

Pretty far, it turns out.

Zappa participated in last year's Eighth Annual Tampa Bay Marathon
Swim, a 24-mile endurance race north through Tampa Bay. The race
starts at the Holiday Inn in St. Petersburg near the Skyway Bridge and
finishes at the Ben T. Davis Beach near the Courtney Campbell Causeway.

She made it nine miles to the St. Petersburg Pier.

Then in last April's marathon swim, she doubled that distance,
finishing 18 miles just past the Gandy Bridge. It took her 12 hours.

&quot;Last year the conditions were rougher with the waves coming at me,&quot;
said Zappa, who trains when she can in the Gulf as well as at the
Bradenton YMCA. &quot;This time there was a tail wind and it was much more

Still, hers was no small feat, said Ron Collins, another club member.

&quot;It's not like a marathon race where you have interaction with other
runners,&quot; he said. &quot;In the marathon swim, we're talking about a solo
effort that takes all day. You have to have a mental toughness not
found in other sports.&quot;

Zappa also swims other club events, including the 5K and 10K postal
meets. Unlike regular meets, club members swim those distances without
competition, record their times, and mail them in for a ranking.

&quot;These are long, grueling events, but she does them all. That's
impressive,&quot; said Patty Nardozzi, a club coach. &quot;What's interesting is
a lot of swimmers are musically inclined. I don't know whether it's
the rhythm of swimming, or the discipline it takes to do both well. I
find it amazing.&quot;

Zappa's parents named her after the character Princess Flavia in the
classic, &quot;Prisoner of Zenda.&quot;

And she is no relation to Frank Zappa, the late rock legend who died
in 1993.

&quot;I get asked that a lot,&quot; she said.

Zappa began taking lessons in piano and flute at 5, but didn't take up
violin until 12.

&quot;I enjoyed it very much,&quot; she said. &quot;Mom had me take lessons and I
decided to pursue it in college.&quot;

Zappa did so at Northwestern University and then at the graduate level
at the University of Minnesota.

She came to Florida in June 1991 to be with her parents who retired
here. That October she auditioned successfully for the symphony. She
has also played with the Craig Turley Orchestra, touring Florida with
artists such as Michael Bolton, Peabo Bryson, Peter Cetera,
Christopher Cross, Anne Murray and Manhattan Transfer.

&quot;It's hard to break into, but once you do it's pretty steady,&quot; Zappa said.

The symphony auditions for one, perhaps two spots a year, according to
Pat Joslyn.

&quot;We're not a major symphony, like Philadelphia, New York or Chicago,
but we're a highly regarded regional orchestra,&quot; she said. &quot;We're
among the fastest growing and our quality is strong.&quot;

Zappa's role is that of a per-service musician instead of a
salaried-fulltime musician. Roughly half the symphony are per-service

&quot;All of them are heavily involved in music, and you have to be
committed to be good to play in any orchestra,&quot; Joslyn said. &quot;It takes
everybody doing their job, regardless of where they are in the
orchestra for a successful performance.&quot;

Zappa prefers it that way.

&quot;It's not as bad for me. Since I play in a section, there are not many
solos,&quot; she said. &quot;Only if I solo when playing at a church, that's

Vin Mannix is the Herald's local columnist. Please call Vin Mannix at
745-7055, write him at the Herald, P.O. Box 921, Bradenton, FL 34206,
or send e-mail to <a href="mailto:vmannix&#64;" target="_blank">vmannix&#64;</a> Please include a phone
number for verification.

Flavia Laura Zappa

AGE: 39


OCCUPATION: professional musician

BIRTHPLACE: Cleveland, Ohio

FAMILY: father, Hugo

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