“Feel the fire in your belly.”
Those of us lucky to have had at least one peer, teacher, or colleague make a profound impact on the rest of our lives know what it’s like to hear that phrase. If you pursued an art form to any degree outside of the classroom, you’ve heard something like this before. Whether it inspired you to keep going or choose another path is a different story. Dr. Gary Capozziello is the epitome of the former.
Capozziello, a self-proclaimed “product of the Fairfield public school music programs,” initially gravitated towards the drums. However, like many elementary school music students, he was given an instrument he would end up either reviling or embracing: the violin. He had already started learning the Suzuki method on his own when he started tutelage under Yuval Waldman and Deborah Graser, whom Capozziello calls his “musical mother.” The quote at the top of this article can be attributed to renowned violinist Isaac Stern, who Capozziello had the honor of playing for in a masterclass in high school. Seeing as this time period is pivotal for any teenager, Capozziello had already accrued guitars and amplifiers as a second musical interest, but with his teachers’ influence in his mind and Stern’s words in his heart, he sold them all to pursue violin in New York.
His resume is embellished with positions, guest spots, and pedagogy all around the world, but he calls Connecticut his home. He has been in the Northeast for the better part of a decade, but had to leave New York after coming down with a case of COVID-19 in May. Not only did he deal with the disease for at least a month, but he’s also a high risk patient. Now, he feels better than ever after seeing much success with his doctor, who was able to address Capozziello’s symptoms and chronic illness all at once. Although he was reluctant to make his story public at first, he has seen an overwhelming amount of support, in part from the Greater Hartford arts community.
In July, Capozziello started posting short solo violin recital clips in hopes of raising money for fellow musicians affected by COVID-19. At the time of writing this post, he has raised almost $4,000 for an individual artist relief fund with the Arts Council, with the goal of raising $10,000 by the end of the month. In addition to a feature in the Hartford Courant, Capozziello earned a primetime spot on WTNH in an interview with Ann Nyberg, a surefire way to spread the word. Immediately after the clip aired, other musicians started coming out of the woodwork asking him for advice and sharing their stories. He’s been able to lend an ear and share his perspective, an experience he’s found immensely rewarding.
“I love sharing something that brings magic into people’s lives.”
He wants to “use music to do good in a time when we need to look out for each other,” and he’s looking for more ways to spread love, compassion, and kindness through music. Creating the fundraiser inspired a sense of purpose, and he’s been able to give hope to others who are dealing with the disease themselves.
Capozziello’s fundraiser ends October 4th, when he will perform a full-length solo violin recital in culmination of several weeks’ worth of shorter clips. Tune in to his Facebook page or visit his fundraiser page to contribute.