To hear Renata Arado tell it, the fact that her three children — 16-year-old Dahlia, 14-year-old Camilo and 12-year-old Arabella — are already accomplished violinists who (yes!) practice every day (sometimes on skateboards) isn’t necessarily as exciting as their exploits beyond music. “I find other activities that my kids do far more interesting than music making,” she says. “Swim meets, baseball games, art shows — you get involved in their passions and become passionate about them, too. It makes for a happy and balanced family.”
Nevertheless, there’s no doubt a heavy dose of exceptional musical talent is in the DNA of these children — because Renata Arado and husband Espen Lilleslatten are both highly accomplished, classically trained, professional musicians who share a love for the violin.
That love of violin is, in fact, how they met and fell in love. “The road to us meeting had a few twists and turns,” she explains. “I was at the University of Michigan and my favorite teacher was offered a position at Rice University. She accepted the position and was able to bring five students on scholarship, and I was one of them. Because she’s part Norwegian, she attracted Norwegian students and that’s how I met Espen.”
While Espen had already earned his Master’s Degree, it wasn’t until three years later that Renata was awarded hers from the San Francisco Conservatory — and their professional careers took off. First it was Espen, who landed a position as concert master (lead violinist) for the Bergen Philharmonic in Bergen, Norway. Shortly thereafter, Renata joined Espen, auditioned and was named principal second violin (the leader of the second violin group). At the same time, they acquired positions (which they still hold today) at the Aspen Music Festival held every summer, playing chamber music and teaching.
Renata’s father lived on Sanibel, so the islands became an escape for the family and ultimately, a home. And after 15 years as part-time residents in Norway, they decided it was time for a change — with Espen accepting a position as Professor of Violin at Louisiana State University (he commutes regularly), while Renata freelances among Southwest Florida’s many performing arts musical groups.
Across their careers, this talented couple has performed chamber music at some of the most vaunted venues in the United States, including Carnegie Hall and the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts. But what’s just as exciting to her is the opportunity, after 10 years on the islands, to play BIG Arts — with a chamber recital January 17, 2016 including her husband (who will play viola) and two colleagues from Aspen, an event that has her “psyched.”
“Our children’s happiness is paramount to us,” Renata says. “How we work reflects the importance of Sanibel in our lives, and the lives of our kids. We have our moments of insanity like everybody, but this is a great community, for arts and for family.”