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Cellist is crowned Miss USA. Can she play?

Olivia Culpo, described as a cellist, has won the Miss USA contest in Las Vegas.

You probably didn’t need to know that. But has she really played the cello for 13 years? And is she any good? Do submit video evidence if you can find some…

photo: AP


UPDATE: Video evidence just in. Watch here.

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  1. Gabe Langfur says:

    I have not heard Olivia play, but her mother is one of the finest professional violists in New England.

  2. Like, she’s rully, rully good, ya know? (tee-hee) Don’t touch my hair.

  3. Jennifer Elowitch says:

    I also know her mother, who is indeed a very fine professional violist. I haven’t heard Olivia in person, but I’m sure she’s had excellent training.

    • Susan Culpo, viola, is known to Rhode Islanders as the daughter of Aurora Curran, renowned string teacher in Cranston Public Schools. Culpo plays with the Boston Symphony, Boston Pops and Boston Pops Esplanade orchestras, and is assistant principal viola with the Rhode Island Philharmonic. With the BSO, she has traveled from Tanglewood to Europe and Asia.

  4. Laurence Glavin says:

    I viewed the personnel listing of BSO players at the Orchestrra’s website, but saw nobody named Culpo. Does her mother use another name?

    • Laurence Glavin says:

      I posted before the reply above; but I still see no Culpo on the BSO’s personnel list.

      • Hornguy says:

        While I have no firsthand knowledge, I read that bio snippet to mean that her mom is a substitute or extra. That would be supported by the reference to the Esplanade orchestra, since BSO members don’t play in that group.

  5. Mr. Lebrecht will probably respond “mea culpo” to that, Laurence.

  6. I didn’t see the video but did read that she was in fact a serious student. Good for her. I was wondering what the initial point was exactly. I am so pleased when young people take up an instrument, and sticking with it from grammar school, even if the instrument is just played in the school orchestra, is commendable. Education in music is a very important goal also.

    Even if she as not studied in solid summer programs and played in and travelled with elite youth orchestras, I would still be pleased to hear she played for 13 years. It’s great exposure.

  7. I have been playing cello for about twelve years, and as a result some of my fingers are shorter and more callused than others. There are also indentations on certain fingers. I find it difficult to believe that someone could play cello seriously for that long and maintain model-quality fingers and hands.

    • Stuart Green says:

      You are right. I don’t believe she has played with the BSO in Boston,Baltimore or Bournemouth. Another Ofra Harnoy!!

    This is a video reporting on Miss USA and her responses during the question round of the pageant. The reporter says that she has performed at Symphony Hall in Boston and Carnegie Hall in NYC.
    ABC news also acknowledges her involvement with the Boston Symphony Orchestra.

    Even if Ms. Culpo isn’t a “professional” cellist, I appreciate the importance she has placed on music in education and the value of practicing a musical instrument.

  9. I think that it is a great thing for musicians to have someone representing orchestral musicians (and notice that she doesn’t bill herself as a soloist) in the larger world of entertainment, even if she gained her role in the public eye for just being pretty. New reports refer to her as a “nerd,” which really bothers me. I am sure that she is a respectable college-level cellist.

  10. She’s a good enough a cellist to recognize a bad note when she hits one in the opening of that video segment. Her facial expression at that point (and the repeated attempts to slide the note onto pitch) probably weren’t even noticed by the video’s producers.

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