Entering his first few months as a teenager, Chicago native Giovanni Mazza has mastered the skill of playing the violin and has been showcasing his talents in stages across the nation.
“When Giovanni was three, I took him to an instrument petting zoo at a library, and he seemed to gravitate towards a tiny violin,” said Lisa Mazza, Giovanni’s mother. “He started taking Suzuki group lessons with other preschool-aged kids, and it was fun for them. They would play the violin walking around, standing on one leg, and other goofy games to keep the kids interested.”
Giovanni’s parents, Lisa and Vito Mazza supported their son fully and knew that he had a unique talent. Lisa even took up adult lessons, but decided to quit after a year as she noticed her son quickly surpassing her.
“My husband had no interest whatsoever in learning the violin, so violin is definitely not something that runs in the family,” said Lisa.
While his musical skills were not something passed down, he stuck with it and has excelled since. He gravitates toward the sounds and the adrenaline rush he gets while performing. From classical workshops to NBA Halftime Shows, Giovanni says he feeds off the energy from the crowd in every performance, making the rush of playing even stronger.
“For an Orlando Magic game, the first time they added a drumline to my halftime was such a rush that when I went back to my dressing room my nose started bleeding,” said Giovanni. “It’s the same feeling I get when I ride rollercoasters, which I love. It starts off, and you are kind of scared and excited at the same time. Then you go through loops and stuff and the adrenaline just starts going through your body. It’s awesome!”
He first started performing in NBA Halftime Shows after his beloved hometown team, the Chicago Bulls, found him in a Youth Talent Search at the age of nine.
“They were the ones who pitched me to play in the 2016 NBA All-Stars Rising Stars game in Toronto and again for the 2018 NBA All-Stars Skills Night,” said Giovanni. “I’m so grateful to everyone there, especially Mike Vigan and Michelle Harris, for discovering me in the talent search and believing in me.”
Since then, it has been a whirlwind of experiences; and even with his extensive background, the 13-year-old admits that he still gets nervous at times.
“The funny thing about that is I actually get more nervous performing in front of smaller crowds, especially in classical workshops with Mrs. Almita Vamos,” said Giovanni. “For NBA halftimes, I don’t get that nervous because I just go out and have fun with it. Before I play the National Anthem sometimes I get nervous because it is such a big honor that I don’t want to mess up.”
The parents of the violin prodigy, note that what Giovanni has accomplished is much more than what they could have ever dream of and admit they are still in awe every time they see him perform.
“It’s a strange phenomenon that happens when my son performs live—I just kind of blackout mentally. I’m there holding a camera, but it’s like time stops for me, the performance ends, and I’m wondering what just happened,” said Lisa.
While the young violinist is out here making the city proud, he just hopes that others will be inspired, live out their dreams, and stay true to themselves.
“You may want to be like someone else, but you have to look at your own gifts and see what you have to offer. For example, I used to dream about being Jascha Heifetz, the greatest violinist who ever lived. But if I tried to be him, I would miss out on me and what I have to offer. I love to dance, to be social, to have fun, to create, to play modern music people can dance to. That’s who I am, and that’s what people enjoy most about me.”