Festivals-Italy   Nothing compares with the taste of delicious gelato, amazing Italian wines, and aromatic espressos enjoyed in the heart of Tuscany mountains,

 

529096_10151592366061298_1064313493_n972105_10151592366436298_1659566645_n

beautiful sunsets, medieval castles 534572_10150975536186298_27429877_n

and above all in the company of amazing musicians and friends.

999183_10151592280826298_1266284164_n 1009822_10151592328041298_1025228333_n

It has been an absolutely amazing experience teaching, performing and making new friends with world class musicians at the summer festivals in Italy. I almost wish I could still be a students at those festivals and can only imagine how influential and inspirational those music programs are for students.

 

 

1003323_10151592267001298_1220342403_n527934_10150975540466298_1103760900_n

558170_10150975546546298_434484885_n

Advertisements

970878_10151486850276298_1116445039_n

There is always a reason why I want to visit a particular place. With Portugal, it was the Portuguese folk songs I heard from my Portuguese friends in Thailand in 2008. I  fall in love with the language and the music (the friend was special too:) and it was enough to make me want to explore. I heard so much about the beauty of his country, delicious desserts, the special little town on the rocks next to the sea, beaches, winds…And then the next thing I knew-he was very ill -dying with a cancer a few years later…Sadly, I didn’t make it to Portugal before he died. I made it only to a place he loved the most (picture above.)

(I  didn’t make it to see my grandmother before she died two weeks ego, either. Welcome to  2013! This is the prize performers pay sometimes for being “on the road,” for being “Soldiers of music.”)

Fortunately, there was one more friend in Portugal I wanted to see for years. We went to school together in NYC and we spent countless mornings (around 5;45 AM!!!!) waiting in line to get into MSM, our school, in order to secure a practice space for a few hours. I have not seen her for at least thirteen years! Luckily it was a very happy and inspiring meeting. We had a blast, chatting, exchanging ideas about music, life and everything between. I was so thrilled to see her thriving and well.

389618_10151486811706298_953442055_n(1)

Ana Telles has not only graduated from MSM, NYU and got her PHD from Sorbonne in Paris, but she became one of the most thriving musician, pedagogue and musicologist I have ever known. She has always had a spark, but I was thrilled to see her engaged and active in so many aspects of musical life.

Ana is a professor at Evora University, active performer, recording artist, musicologist and a mother. I have been invited to many institutions around the world on all continents. But I have never met anyone else so interested and eager to share the knowledge about Mazurkas with the world (besides myself of course :). She has organized Symposium at the Evora University (I nicknamed, “Mazurkomania”) dedicated to MAZURKAS. I was so impressed with all of her students performing mazurkas in my master classes, with lectures, talks and the final recital where I performed. Amazing!

822_10151486798151298_579526989_n

The students were very responsive and enthusiastic, I almost didn’t notice that I have given some 8-10 master classes on one day! The  medieval town of Evora, is  the UNESCO World Heritage Site,  and worthwhile a visit. There are many spectacular sights, and one especially memorable, the Bone Chapel. (Capela dos Ossos  )

424983_10151486113241298_1050562985_n

The next stop was Lisbon, and a solo recital at the Palace de Foz,  organized by the Embassy of Poland. It was without a debt one of the most beautiful concert space I have ever performed in.

983719_10151486133231298_1574106531_n

(with Polish Ambassador  prof. Mistrzal and his wife)

Moreover, the audience  was wild and receptive. In fact it was one of the warmest audiences I have performed for. People were happy, the scent of pleasure was in the air. The beautiful, delicious dinner at the Ambassador’s Residency only added a special touch to that very special day.

The 5 days road-trip followed.  and…I overdid it again. But I saw all the beautiful places I dreamed about seeing, the amazing medieval churches,monasteries

8560_10151486827591298_90012115_n600615_10151486833606298_580103366_n

943457_10151486834996298_574291966_n295552_10151486835576298_999649409_n

600543_10151486841721298_917489342_n

wild and wide empty beaches. I ate too much desserts, had too many espressos, and spent way too much time in one of the strongest winds I have ever experienced. The result was rather disturbing: lost hearing in the right ear and three weeks of misery. Was it wort it? You bet! Portugal is amazingly beautiful, fresh and inspiring. Today I got an invitation to perform in Lisbon next year. I will be more careful with the winds!!! 🙂 PS. Antibiotics helped to restore my hearing.

249315_10151486843991298_2052555269_n

575519_10151486821186298_759695204_n

945015_10151486818121298_2042200158_n945600_10151486818641298_2028913753_n970571_10151486838976298_522630546_n

8507_10151486142451298_166472044_n(1)

480849_10151486799026298_621064308_n

954768_10151486850491298_1593140672_n

601991_10151374527526298_1028198759_nI grew up surrounded by music of Fredric Chopin. His music was everywhere: on radio, on TV and in every practice room at every music conservatories. I still remember the moment I heard his Polonaise in G minor at the age of 7…I run home and practiced more that day, so I could play it soon.

Our musical education in Poland was heavily based on Chopin’s music, Chopin competitions, Chopin festivals etc. It was all mostly about Chopin.  And if you won or got to the final of a Chopin Competition in Warsaw, your future as a pianist  was made in Poland. And it is still the case nowadays.

The cult of Chopin in Honduras brought a new light into his popularity. The Conservatorio Nacional de Música in Tegucigalpa was the poorest school I have ever taught at or visited. I was very much inspired by students dedication and their drive, and I believe my teaching was very inspirational to them.  We worked mostly on Chopin, of course! The school had only 4 upright pianos, and not a single  grand piano. The sound isolation was made out of egg containers,

2013-03-13 001 2013-03-12 008

and there was  paint missing on most walls. ( They do accept donations, please contact me for the info)

To my surprise the piano studio I was teaching at had a beautiful painting on the wall made by a teacher. It was a portrait of Chopin with the following note: Chopin n excelsis Deo.  🙂

2013-03-13 001 2013-03-12 002

2013-02-23 001 2013-02-23 024

I have performed many times in the New York City and at the Carnegie Hall, but The Allure of the Muse event on February 23 will stay always in my memory. It was an evening of music and poetry by judge John Charles Thomas.(http://www.distinctionhr.com/2013/02/poetic-justice/) We all travel outside our earthy existence into a world of arts synthesis and creation. We performed, laughed and cried together.

It was an honor to share a stage with the Former Virginia Supreme Court Judge, and to contribute to such an amazing event.

581594_10151386464956298_1778970168_nI love visiting New Zealand, Tuscany, Indonesia, but my heart belongs to Himalayas. I’ve spent the happiest moments of my life on the Everest and Kanchanchunga treks, feeling the most alive. When I visited Nepal for the first time in 2007, I had no idea I will get so addicted to the unbelievably beautiful landscape and will have to return many times…Himalayas became a substitute for Tatra mountains for me, and I am very fortunate to be able to visit the Himalayas so often.
I had no plans for coming back to Nepal the second time this year. But when my concerts and master classes in Indonesia got rescheduled from December to January I was left with 12 free days in Asia. My two top choices were: diving in Philippines or hiking Himalayas! To my surprise, I found quite affordable Airasia flight to Katmandu, fitting perfectly into my schedule. I have craved the view from the Ranjo pass at Gokyo lake for months…I kept thinking about it, dreaming about it….I have been there already but like with the valley of Five Lakes in Tatras, I had a need to return. So I did!

The flight to Lukla was smooth and beautiful as always. But there was no delay this time, for the first time! I started walking shortly before 8 am and kept going (Idecided not to go with a porter or a guide)  until I reached Namche before 4 pm….I so did not want to spend two days on the busy Lukla-Namche part of the trek. So I pushed, and did two days in one, arriving at the Everest hotel in Namche, quite exhausted after the final ascent , but happy. I ordered the famous chicken sizzler just for the sentiment. ( I don’t really eat meat anymore) and was disappointed. I skipped the” rest day” and continued on, the next day, but the body did not like that too much. I was tired. The trek continued sharply up after the initial easy 1 h walk. I had the second breakfast ( delicious vegetable omelet ) and stored some energy. It was a hard morning. I reached my favorite village on the way to Gokyo ( the corner village, cant remember the name…MongaLa?) and could not get enough of the view: Tamboche, Amadablam, Everest, just surrounded by mountains. The sun was strong and happy. I had my favorite food, dal bhat and started to chat with one of the hotel owners.The hotel was very clean and very warm, and I was offered  a free room, which convinced me to stay and do nothing else for the rest of the day but  to stair at the mountains while seating in the sun.
The hotel owner was a Sherpa women married to a Belgian man, who had two sons, and spoke very good English. She was telling me how tired she is of the city life and how much she would prefer to stay high in the mountains. “I hate Kathmandu” she told me many times during our conversation.

I was not looking forward to the next day hike. I knew the trail. It was steep and difficult and in shadows           ( forest). I walked too fast again, reaching the destination point by noon. Continuing up was not an option because my body could have not liked to gain more altitude. I have already covered 4 days in 2, I had to be smart. There was a larger group of tourist at the lodge I stayed at: Australians, British, Greek, Japanese, and Spanish tourists. The Japanese guy brought a coffee grinder with him, and a stove to make sure he could brew his coffee properly. ( there was boiled water at the tea house of course) I enjoyed watching his dedication. Nothing like Japanese precision! The evening was quiet except for a short disco the hotel owner decided to “entertained” us with. We ‘killed’ that idea very quickly.

The next day was a killer day for most people. Again, I got ahead. Unintentionally. The group from South Africa I passed was quite strong and we continued  mostly together. My ‘other friends’  arrived couple hours later. I was so glad to be traveling alone and not to have to wait for anyone! I had no problem with the altitude as far as breathing or headache is concern, but the heavy back pack ( 15kg) started to be a problem. The last 1.5h was tough, but I still made it by 11 ish am and went up the Gokyo RI (17,575′ (5,357 m) after the lunch. I needed to see the full view of Everest! It turned out to be a bad decision on my part, as I struggle to get up this time.  Again, I didn’t feel it in my lungs or head, but it was taking me a while to reach the peak. And I was ALONE again 🙂 The Gokyo Ri was mine for an hour! Just perfect.

600694_10151307086311298_1216020642_n
The next day was a well deserved “rest day”, with three huge meals and plenty of hot tea and chocolate.  I wondered around, took pictures at glaciers and managed to drop my new camera, or rather let the wind drop it down. It survived the fall 🙂

I decided not to go through the  Cho La Pass towards Everest base camp ( I have been at the Everest Base Camp before)but instead to visit the quiet valley behind the Ranjo Pass. I knew the next day would be very difficult. I had to carry my backpack (15 kg) and myself  1000 m up and reach 5360 m (17585feet)  and do it quickly enough to continue down the valley and reach a tea house before the darkness swings in.
It was strangely cloudy in the morning and looked like snow.

65577_10151307100196298_1333328381_n

I knew it usually doesn’t snow in December but it just did a week before for couple days, so it was a possibility. I was not thrilled about the clouds because I was worried about having enough light for my photography, but it turned out to be quite spectacular, especially the Everest looked intriguing with a rounded cloud- umbrella above the peak. It was windy!!!! I was happy I had all my hats, gloves, wind breakers and down jacket. I used it all. The last 30 min were brutal, but I felt the altitude for maybe couple minutes on the last 10 minute assent. I made it again!

525614_10151307106336298_1725453196_n

I can survive above 5000 meters without much problems as long as I don’t get too cold.

405753_10151307109746298_807176566_n

I wish I could had stayed for a few hours there… But the way down was very very long and very down. I think it was over 1500 meters down. And there was NOONE there! Empty valley with lakes and white peaks, a few yaks were saying goodbye.

560214_10151307117646298_1280651547_n

It’s always so hard to descent ….I wish there were only assents in the mountains. The sun was brutal. I had to reapply the sun block several times and I was extremely grateful for my new sunglasses as my eyes were finally comfortable.  (I learned my lesson in Kanchenjunga! ) Sun, snow and altitude is not a good mixture.

150943_10151307116231298_1649642621_n
I arrived at the village and was greeted by a women collecting yaks shit. She said in her broken English:  last hotel, left, much food.” sounded great as I was hungry. I had only omelet and chapati and it was 4 pm. I found the hotel but there was only a guy there and he was drinking….I   thought about  leaving, but decided against it.  I needed to have some warm tea. He brought me an entire thermos of milk tea and it made me very happy. It turned out to be one of the best nights in the mountains. The women who suggested this hotel to me turned out to be his wife.  She came back with a lot of yaks shit, and made a beautiful fire a few hours later.  She also cooked a delicious dal bhat, and made a delicious  hot chocolate for me.There was also a couple from the USA staying there, and the guy spoke Nepali! He was able to communicate with the Nepali family, who shared with us many  amazing stories about their lives and Tibetans. (It was the last  Nepali village  on the route to Tibet) We laughed and talked long into the night. The next two days were peaceful and beautiful. I met no tourists and just a few yaks … on the trek. The trek was  finished when I reached Namche Bazar: the city life was very present here and the peace was over. Returning is never easy. But this time, I had something to look forward to: warm, summer weather in Australia, where I was performing shortly.  If I only knew how hot and difficult it was going to be to adjust from Himalayan winter to Australian summer!

http://au.news.yahoo.com/thewest/video/watch/9f1e80d6-f83c-3b76-ac6f-8b3b6546ddb2/travelling-pianist/thewest_entertainment/

Interview for TV THE WEST, Perth, Australia

It has been an eventful morning and afternoon! Four-hour rehearsal  with  three fascinating characters: Judge John Thomas; composer Sophia Serghi and jazz pianist Harris Simon. The event is titled Allure of the Muse (http://www.carnegiehall.org/Calendar/2013/2/21/0800/PM/The-Allure-of-the-Muse/) and it is a fusion of  poetry with classical music and jazz.  I am performing the “Allure” by Sophia Serghi and My Windows by Lei Liang and…some Schumann. The Poet will speak…