A few words about my experiences with Artemisia Foundation
By Maxim Lando
Four years ago, the very first Artemisia Foundation session I ever attended left the most incredible lasting impression on me. We met inside the magnificent Sprague Hall at Yale University; listened to truly inspiring words from Dean Blocker, who we had the privilege to also share a lunch with later in the day; and then the most amazing part - we visited the Yale Historic Instrument Collection. This experience at the Instrument Collection was eye-opening (or perhaps ear-opening) for me! We tried numerous keyboard instruments from different time periods, but the one that I truly fell in love with was a piano that Franz Liszt hand selected for Wagner’s home. Dean Blocker informed me that Liszt in fact visited Wagner’s home numerous times, playing on the very piano that I was allowed to try. At the time (I was eleven years old), I didn’t want to ever wash my hands after playing “Liszt’s piano” (don’t worry, I did). It was a fascinating experience because the piano was not actually easy to play for someone accustomed to a modern piano. The action was very different (required less weight, more difficult to control), but somehow the colors and sounds of the piano were magical to me.
During the next four years, more Artemisia sessions followed. We talked about music and visited museums; played masterclasses for luminaries such as Jerome Lowenthal, Hung-Kuan Chen, Robert McDonald, Veda Kaplinsky, and Boris Berman; learned, imagined, laughed, and supported each other. At one particularly difficult session, I felt as though I was the victim of a musical intervention. Veda Kaplinsky turned the focus of the entire session to my posture (both at the piano, and even my posture in general). While it felt brutal at the time (and even worse with emotional group hugs at the end), I came to realize that the experience was important. It is essential that as musicians we take care of our bodies, and it can only improve our playing to learn to relax somewhat and breath. For me every moment of music making is exciting, and there is some element of tension in even the most beautiful phrase. Since I feel this so strongly, I realize my work with posture and breathing will probably be an ongoing process throughout my life. I feel very thankful to Dr. Kaplinsky (for that particular session and additional ones later), always to Hung-Kuan Chen and Tema Blackstone, and to the Artemisia Foundation for giving me these incredible opportunities to view music, the world, and myself in new ways.