Sara x Lele

Symphony of Style

A passionate musician with an effortless sense of style shares her life and her loves.

By Sophia Strawser
Photographed by Andrew Egan
Styled by Kristen Ingersol

The Ac Magazine team caught renowned cellist Sara Sant’Ambrogio at home in her NYC apartment — with sweeping views of Central Park — on a beautiful Friday in October. As she spent time with us discussing her latest album, her life as a musician, and all things fashion, Sant’Ambrogio’s bubbly personality and overwhelming kindness set the tone for what was an interesting and lively day.

“Classical music is all about passion and emotions,” she told us. “This music expresses the inexpressible.” That thought held sway during our photo shoot when she picked up her cello and began to play. The room — full of chatter — quieted as the music moved over us like a wave. It was peaceful, retrospective, and filled with emotion.

You could say Sant’Ambrogio’s career began with piano lessons at the age of four. But it wasn’t long before the piano gave way to the cello, which she says called to her with its human-like sound. “The cello is the most human of the instruments, all the notes are within the human voice range and something about the timbre of the sound just goes directly to our hearts,” she explained.

At 16, she was performing a Bach solo on stage at Carnegie Hall when it dawned on her that she had found her calling. “I had finally found exactly where I belonged and I haven’t looked back since,” she said. “Regardless of the sacrifices one must make to pursue excellence in anything, I feel most alive when I am playing music for an audience.”


Sant’Ambrogio is a Grammy Award winner, a winner of the International Tchaikovsky Violoncello Competition, and has performed as a soloist with some of the leading orchestras around the world. She has recorded eight albums with The Eroica Trio, and has just released her seventh solo album. “This latest recording — Ecstasy — is all Spanish and Latin American music for cello and piano,” she said. “It was a dream to record these jewels. The music is so sensual, emotional, and poignant. I have been in love with this music since I was a child and I can’t wait for audiences to be swept away by the beauty. Listening to this music is like falling in love for the first time!”

Falling in love is something the musician knows well as of late, having just tied the knot in the South of France with her longtime friend-turned-partner. A destination wedding was the perfect choice for this world traveler, who has spent much of her career in airports and on stages, bringing classical music to every corner of the earth. “I have to pinch myself sometimes, I feel so lucky to travel around the world bringing beauty in the universal language of music. I’ve been to so many places — Europe, Asia, the Middle East, Australia, New Zealand — and no matter the language, we can communicate. I’m playing these amazing pieces, written by these geniuses who poured all of their emotions and life into the music and then I pour out all of my life, my joy, my pain, my love, my sadness to the audience.”

When it comes to fashion, this Billboard Top Ten artist has a distinctly effortless and bold sense of personal style. Lately, she opts for statement pieces from Alexis Bittar or a few delicate rings on her right hand — so as not to interfere with her playing. That’s not to say, of course, that there haven’t been one or two fashion emergencies along the way.


“Once I was on stage performing Brahms Double Concerto with the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra wearing a dress given to me by Carmen Marc Valvo. It had a beaded strap that crossed my back and hooked onto the dress on my left shoulder. That strap was the only thing holding that dress on,” she revealed. About 15 minutes into the piece, Sant’Ambrogio heard a quiet click. “It took me a few seconds before I realized it was the sound of the beaded strap hitting the back of my chair. I grabbed the front of my dress just as it was about to fall down and had about 60 seconds to figure out how to get my dress securely fastened without alerting the 3,000 people in the hall that my dress was about to fall off. Somehow I got it back on with about half a second to spare and started playing again with more adrenaline in my system than ever. If I hadn’t caught the dress at that exact moment, I would have become very famous for something other than my cello playing!”

Sant’Ambrogio, who holds a place in her heart for young musicians, is always looking to inspire and lift up the next generation. Ac Magazine asked her what her advice would be for young musicians trying to make it. “Figure out what is unique to you and find a way to showcase that,” she said. “We are all unique and that is what is so beautiful. You have to be your own harshest critic and also your greatest cheerleader.”

Sara Sant’Ambrogio’s album Ecstasy is out now and can be found on all music streaming platforms. Up next, an album covering the great American Songbook with record label Club 44.

There is clearly no limit to what this inspirational musician can achieve — and we’re here for all of it.