She was born in Boston and began her studies with her father, John Sant'Ambrogio, principal cellist with the Saint Louis Symphony Orchestra. She was invited to study with David Soyer at the Curtis Institute of Music at the age of 16. Three years later, Leonard Rose invited her to study at the Juilliard School of Music. She immediately won the Juilliard Schumann Concerto competition and was featured in a Lincoln Center concert.
Her career began when she won the bronze medal at the 1986 International Tchaikovsky Violoncello Competition in Moscow and was invited to play at Carnegie Hall. This recital aired nationally on CBS. Since then she has appeared as a soloist with the Atlanta, Boston Pops, Chicago, Dallas, Moscow State Philharmonic, Century Orchestra Osaka, St. Louis, San Francisco, and Seattle orchestras, in addition to touring and recording widely with the Eroica Trio. She has performed at many festivals and was featured in the Bach Cello Suites with the New York City Ballet.