WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — They come from two different worlds. Yet they play in perfect harmony.
Danijela Zezelj Gualdi was born in Croatia. She was just a teenager when she became a refugee of the Balkan Wars, eventually escaping to Serbia in 1991.
“Nobody had money, people were starving. The money value was just dropping every day,” Danijela said.
Drawing her bow across the violin brought her peace amid intense turmoil.
“In playing the violin, I could forget about things.”
After sending in a performance tape to several American universities, Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh offered her a full music scholarship. For Danijela, it was her ticket to freedom.
“I was really really ecstatic about it,” Danijela said.
Paolo Andre Gualdi began studying piano in Italy with his father at the age of five, and continued at the Conservatory of Santa Cecilia in Rome.
At 20, Paolo won a musical competition, granting him the opportunity to move to the United States.
He would go on to earn his Masters at Carnegie Mellon. That was also the time when he met Danijela.
Besides falling in love and eventually marrying, they also found their perfect musical blend.
“It’s a great experience to play music with a loved one.”
Each has seen their share of on-stage success. Now a UNCW instructor, Danijela has played at Carnegie Hall and the Kennedy Center.
Paolo won the De Martino Award at the Ibla International piano competition and has performed with the Wilmington Symphony and Atlanta Philharmonic among many others.
The work takes an intense attention to detail and a lot of practice. Yet, the husband and wife team say it’s all worth it when they see the faces in the crowd.