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13-year-old violinist Giovanni Mazza practices at the Vivint Arena
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13-Year-Old Violinist With Modern Flair Wows NBA Crowd

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah —Donovan Mitchell may have been the star, but another young phenom stole the spotlight during halftime of the Jazz-Celtics game at Vivint Smart Home Arena Friday night.

Giovanni Mazza, 13, plays the violin not too unlike the way a rockstar plays guitar — with a unique style, unmistakable flair and a measure of violence, creating modern music with classical precision.

“With all the crowd cheering me on and the roaring of the crowds — I just love it,” said Mazza, who lives in the Chicago area with his parents.

Mazza first picked up a violin when he was 3 and took to playing hip-hop music when he was 9, which is also around the time he was first discovered.

13-year-old violinist Giovanni Mazza practices at the Vivint Arena

13-year-old violinist Giovanni Mazza practices at the Vivint Arena

“I was 9 years old and did the Chicago Bulls youth talent search,” Mazza said. “I didn’t have as much interest in the contest and did it as a chance to perform. I lost the contest, but I think I won in the long-run because now I’m doing this.”

Somebody certainly took note, because he started getting requests to perform.

“One of the coolest is when he played for the All-Stars in 2016 in Toronto. That was amazing,” his mother, Lisa Mazza, said. “He played for the ‘Rising Stars’ halftime. We weren’t expecting that. He was just going out for like a quarter change or timeout, and they promoted him to halftime.”

The teen has now played in 16 different arenas.

“I think around when he started getting requests for the playoffs and there were multiple requests, then I started realizing, ‘wow!’” Lisa Mazza said. “He played a couple times for Madison Square Garden for the Knicks, Warriors in Oracle in San Francisco, Detroit, Orlando, Charlotte.”

Friday was his third time playing at Vivint Smart Home Arena, and the family said Giovanni Mazza is hoping to make a return to Utah sometime around the playoffs.

13-year-old violinist Giovanni Mazza practices at the Vivint Arena

13-year-old violinist Giovanni Mazza practices at the Vivint Arena

“I black out. Yeah, it’s overwhelming for me because it is my son,” Lisa Mazza said. “I think I just felt like an out-of-body experience — like it wasn’t real.”

The teenager’s success hasn’t been without a tremendous amount of preparation.

He said he practices three hours per day.

An “arranger” based in Seattle now comes up with Mazza’s NBA mixes.

“That’s how the modern stuff kind of happened,” Lisa Mazza said. “If you ask him, he’ll say he likes the hip-hop more than the classical, but we always push him with the classical because we know it builds great foundation, and you never know — he might change his mind!”

Giovanni said he also is an aspiring actor, and enjoys the thrill of performing.

“He gives 100 percent of himself for everything, and he’s in the moment,” Lisa Mazza said. “It’s hard to find performers that are so out of their heads, they’re just in the moment, and that’s what makes him unique.”

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