By Jim North
Southeast Campus Editor
Victoria Luperi recalls listening to classical music radio on Sunday mornings with her family in Argentina as a young girl. She fell in love with the “sweet” sound of the clarinet without knowing what a clarinet was—when she asked her parents, they had no idea.
Luperi was just eight years old, mesmerized with the sound of the instrument, recognizing it again at a youth orchestra event.
She recalls running to the clarinetist and while the instrument was being demonstrated, the oboe player listened in on the conversation, trying to sway her over to the other side.
“Look, the clarinet and the oboe are very similar. I think you’re confused. I think you should play the oboe.”
She says the musicians argued the merits of each instrument back and forth until finally the clarinetist handed it to her.
“Play.” Upon completing her ‘mini-audition,’ he concluded: “You have to play the clarinet. Absolutely.”
She became “hooked” from that point, and began taking clarinet lessons right away.
By age 15, she moved to America to attend the Interlochen Center for the Arts near Traverse City, Mich.
She later studied at the prestigious Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia.
Upon completion of her schooling, Luperi’s first professional experience was with the Winnipeg Symphony as the first chair clarinet (leader of the section) for four years.
By 2007, she moved to Fort Worth, Texas. While auditioning for the Fort Worth Symphony, she met then assistant-conductor Andres Franco during a rehearsal try-out.
Luperi and Franco were married in 2008. She now performs as principal clarinet in the Fort Worth Symphony.
As a couple, they share similar tastes in music. Michael Buble’s “Call Me Irresponsible” album was released in 2007, the same year they began to date. The album has been special to them since.
Sharing love for jazz, they also listen to artists such as Ella Fitzgerald and Billie Holliday when they have time to “chill.”
Their professional lives encompass performing across the country and around the world most weeks of the year.
Luperi comments on the intersection of their music: “It’s lovely, you know. We both are professional musicians, so we’re very comfortable in that lifestyle. That involves a lot of studying, practicing, performing and travelling. For us, that’s every day … the norm.
Luperi feels their musical talents are a complement to one another, and that her clarinet talent fits into the wider context of what her husband does in conducting.
“You know, being married to a conductor is like being married to a little walking encyclopedia. I feel like I can ask him any question and he has the answer. It’s really great.”
As highly skilled and accomplished clarinetist, Luperi’s
desire is to continue performing music at the highest level possible.
Franco and Luperi share hobbies, food and cooking, travel, wine-tasting, reading—and exercising when their schedules allow.
Luperi is grateful for the opportunity to have performed with her husband Feb. 27 at the VanTrease Performing Arts Center for Education (PACE) as a guest solo artist.
Before the show, she commented, “It’s a big deal. I’m excited to be a part of his inaugural season here in Tulsa. I’m excited to play with him, and with the musicians of the orchestra.”
As for what music means to her personally, Luperi says, “Everything. I feel this is what I was born to do—like breathing. It’s an amazing outlet.”
Her goal is to always keep growing in her art. She wants to keep playing different repertoire. She also has dreams and plans for the future.
“I would love to record an album by myself … that probably will be my next big project.”
As a couple, they want to balance family life, professional life and hobbies. Spending time together, as well as with their families is a priority.
Franco adds, “In our case, everything is really intertwined, professional and marriage, because we share the same profession … it all combines very nicely.”
Franco admires his wife’s ability and talent as a musician.
“She is very accomplished technically, but everything she does is because of her love for music. She never plays just to show off … she is going for love and passion and has the “chops” to accomplish it.”
In a recent private
performance for Signature Symphony sponsors and friends, Luperi played a
clarinet solo, and the room went quiet, according to Franco.
“Everyone was completely spellbound. It was like the quietest room I’ve heard and the focus was like—you could hear a needle drop in that room … she really is mesmerizing, just to watch her perform.”
Luperi describes her husband’s talent as artistic director and conductor: “Everything he does, he does with great conviction. That’s one of the things I really admire. It’s a deep sense of musicianship—going to the core of the music and somehow being able to really extract that and draw that kind of sound from the orchestra—always with great, great conviction.”
When they are not on the road or performing musically, Luperi and Franco share other passions.
Known for their chocolate truffles, Glacier Confection in the Brady Arts district of downtown Tulsa is a spot they enjoy together off-stage.
As for coffee, Franco loves nothing better than a double-shot espresso from Topeca coffee roasters on the ground floor of The Mayo Hotel.
For all they share in common, this is where the two diverge—she prefers a sugar-free almond latte: “The best latte I have ever had in my whole life … it puts a smile on my face.”
Franco can’t help but avail himself of the “Signature Espresso” time-to-time—sustaining his note of bias toward the Signature Symphony.
But who can blame him?
Together, Luperi and Franco share life, love, hobbies and beautiful music.
However, who gets the most chocolate truffles at Glacier, we may never know.
All is fair in love and music.