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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.

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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!

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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  )

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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.

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(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

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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.

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