PLATTSBURGH — Peter De Sotto fearlessly makes spontaneous decisions.
It was one such life-changing decision that led him to abandon his position with the Toronto Symphony and professionally pursue Quartetto Gelato, which he started, in part, as an outlet for his voice.
De Sotto (violin and tenor), Alexander Sevastian (accordion), Elizabeth McLellan (cello) and Colin Maier (oboe) perform a program of classical, operatic and folk works at 7 p.m. Saturday at the Strand Theatre. The concert concludes the North Country Cultural Center for the Arts’ 2013 Spring Performance Series.
Violin was De Sotto’s first instrument.
“My father was a strolling violinist and a very well-studied classical violinist,” De Sotto said from his Toronto residence. “He used to moonlight as a strolling violinist and stroll around the tables and took requests from people.”
The elder De Sotto had an eclectic repertoire, which included operatic arias and show tunes.
“Anything that people wanted to hear,” De Sotto said. “My dad had a great ear and could play any tune. He was a bit of a songsmith. As a kid, I had this great culture passed down to me.”
When De Sotto was in the symphony, he felt something was missing.
“I started moonlighting as a strolling violinist as well,” he said. “As I was strolling, playing songs, I couldn’t be heard with the violin. I started singing along. People said, ‘My God, you have a beautiful voice.’
“I started studying with every teacher imaginable. I was 26 when I first started singing. It’s very unusual. I took lessons in Toronto and New York. I studied with the greatest teachers around. I was lucky to record all these great tenor arias.”
In 1989, he founded Quartetto Gelato with his late wife, the oboist and French-horn player Cynthia Steljes.
“I was studying seriously opera, and the next thing you know, we sold 50,000 CDs in a year,” he said.