Monday, 4 October 2010

Symphony Chat with Mischa Maisky

Post-concert Symphony Chat

Besides hearing Mischa Maisky perform, the Singapore audience also wanted to hear him speak. So a larger than usual-sized throng stayed back post-concert to attend the Symphony Chat with SSO Music Director Lan Shui, hosted by Anthony Brice. What did MM talk about?

I was a really terrible child. I am sure that my older sister would have wanted to kill me sometime! At 8 years old, I did two important things. I quit smoking forever, and picked up the cello!

Mother Russia
I was born in Latvia, which happened at that time to be part of the Soviet Union. Although I love Russian music, literature and culture, I never felt at home in Russia. I never felt I belonged. Studying at the Moscow Conservatory was an important part, but I also spend time in prison, labour camp (shoveling cement and “building Communism”, obviously unsuccessfully!), mental hospital (in order to escape military service), before leaving for Israel. Thirty-eight years after leaving Russia, I have never felt homesick.

Concert apparel
I do not wear traditional “penguin” outfits while performing. This is not a fashion statement as concerts are not fashion shows. Maybe that’s my way of protesting against classical music being too conservative. Individuality and personality should come before uniforms and uniformity. What is important is the music, and I wear whatever makes me comfortable to make music. Ladies can wear whatever they want, so why not men?

Mstislav Rostropovich
My father died (he smoked too much) just before I became a student of Rostropovich, and so he became a second father to me. He was much more than just a teacher. As he and his wife had daughters but no son, I became like a son to him.

Martha Argerich
Argerich is like life itself -- not easy. She can be unpredictable, sometimes annoying, a pain in the back (and certain other places), but she is a most beautiful thing in music. It is a great privilege and joy to work with her.

A world citizen
You can say I am a citizen of the world. I play on an Italian cello, use French or German bows and wear Indian jewellery. My first wife is American (“Nobody’s perfect.”) and second wife is Italian (but has a Sri Lankan father), and my four children were born in four different countries. I performed tonight in Singapore, two nights ago in Taiwan and tomorrow in Hong Kong. I feel at home wherever there are people who love and appreciate music. So I feel at home in Singapore tonight!

No comments: