Visiting RSO artist in residence hopes to inspire others during visit to Racine
RACINE — The Racine Symphony Orchestra will launch its 80th Anniversary Season with a concert featuring Russian-born cellist and composer Ian Maksin on Saturday.
Maksin — who has performed around the world as a soloist and chamber musician, as well as being the principal cellist of the New World Symphony — has also collaborated with artists ranging from Andrea Bocelli and Gloria Estefan to P. Diddy and Snoop Dogg. He will spend a week in Racine as the RSO’s Artist-in-Residence, and he shared these thoughts with us prior to his visit.
What makes the cello your instrument of choice?
When I was 5, my grandma gave me an old LP of cello music as a birthday present. Sviatoslav Knushevitsky, one of the greatest Russian cellists, was playing the Khachaturian Cello Concerto. I instantly fell in love with the sound of the cello; it felt like it was coming out straight from the heart and I decided that moment that I would learn how to play it. I still feel the same way today: There is no other man-made instrument that sounds so much like the human voice.
Your main goal as an artist is “to close the musical gap between generations and societies.” What are you doing to make that happen?
The main thing is getting my music out there in every way possible. And there is nothing that will replace a live performance. I want to be able to play for everyone in the world at least one time. So far, I am making it happen on a small scale. Thanks to the Racine Symphony’s Artist-in-Residence program, I will literally have an opportunity to perform for everyone. I will also perform at least two dozen times throughout the week in different parts of Racine. This is exactly the model I want to follow to make it happen on the larger scale.
Who or what has had the most influence on you as a musician?
My dad, who is a doctor by day, but has always made music an integral part of his life. I feel that I owe most of my musicianship to him, both genetically and from watching him perform since I was little. Also, Rostropovich, who was sort of a musical hero to me as I was growing up. I was about 10 years old when I got the first bootleg copy of a VHS tape with Rostropovich — who was banned in Soviet Russia at the time — playing the “Saint Saens Cello Concerto.” It was a big deal. Any artist whose music gives me goosebumps has an influence on me: Sting, U2, Russian rock music, French and Italian pop, flamenco and the list goes on.