Those who have ever strolled down Third Street Promenade on a weekend afternoon have probably heard the sound of Johann Pachelbel’s famous Canon in D set to a dance beat. That piece, which can make tourists and locals alike take notice, comes courtesy of self-proclaimed “pop violinist” Josh Vietti. A regular performer on the Promenade, Vietti took to the strings at the age of four and spent a decade studying under Mischa Lefkowitz of the Los Angeles Philharmonic. Yet, it wasn’t until a few years ago that the 26-year-old composer and performer realized the violin was his calling.
“A lot of people say that they fall into their career, that’s kind of how this happened,” says Vietti. “To tell you the truth, I had no idea that I would be doing violin as my main instrument.”
Vietti concedes that while he had a natural talent for playing violin, as he grew older he often pushed his instrument aside in favor of sports and other more conventional adolescent activities. He sang in a choir as a child, and after high school he spent a handful of years working as a rock vocalist and guitarist who would occasionally add a touch of the violin to his songs. But then his band broke up and Vietti took to writing his own material, compositions that eventually evolved into hip-hop and dance beats highlighted by string melodies. He played a piece for a friend who worked for Orange County’s Pacific Symphony and the friend, normally an “all business, no-nonsense sort of guy,” proclaimed that Vietti had a new career path. Shortly thereafter, the budding musician drove from Orange County to the Promenade.
“I figured that I’ll just play in front of people I don’t know and we’ll see how they take it, if they’re receptive or not,” he explains. “It was an excellent reception, my first day.”
So Vietti continued the cross-county trek weekend after weekend, quickly building a fan base and network of music contacts. Today, in addition to working the Promenade, Vietti is regularly booked to play events like fashion shows and art openings (wherever people want something “fun and upbeat, yet classy,” he says) and often works as a session musician.
The musician’s top priority at the moment, though, is finishing the follow-up to last year’s CD release The String Theory. Vietti is reluctant to give away too much information about the upcoming release, which will be available through joshvietti.com in March, but seems genuinely excited with the results.
“It’s more upbeat, driving,” he says. “I’m doing a few interpretations of famous pieces, but I’m making them fresh and new.”
Additionally, Vietti has been collaborating with producer Brian Kennedy on other studio endeavors. Kennedy, who has worked with such chart-topping artists as Fergie and Ciara, discovered Vietti while out on the Promenade and has since incorporated the violinist into several of his recording sessions. Recently, Vietti was able to confirm that he has contributed to forthcoming albums from multi-platinum recording artists Chris Brown and Natasha Bedingfield. It’s a development that has the musician elated.
“I’m classically trained, but my goals are to either tour with my own music or support a large act in [pop music],” he adds. “I don’t care about being famous, I just want to create value and have people recognize that I’m good at something and hire me to work with them either live or in the studio.” You can catch Vietti playing on Third Street Promenade weekend afternoons, weather permitting