Twenty years ago I ended up in Amsterdam by chance. I had been playing the cello for a few years, my love for it was enormous and devastating because of being impossible. I saw a sign on the street “National Cello Competition”, and I attended three days to see and hear all the rounds and cry in torrent, because those guys of my same age played Schumann or Bach like I would not play it in even one hundred years of practicing.
After one of the breaks an elderly lady approached me, how could I forget her name: Kiki. She asked me what distressed me so much, she wanted to know what was tormenting me. Without knowing her at all, I opened my heart: the cello was everything to me, but I had never had any musical training, and after a few years of practicing up to ten hours a day, I had understood that I had zero talent or skills for it. But still I loved it with all my being and it was impossible for me to leave it (as in fact my father, my mother, my brother suggested me … and anyone who was close at that time and loved me).
She listened to my dithyramb without interrupting me, at the end she looked at me, and told me some very simple and direct words: “I see that your life is the violoncello, so do not hesitate, dedicate yourself to it. If you can’t play this classical music, then make your own music, invent it, and do not do anything else.”
She left me K.O. I told her it was absurd. That it was totally out of my reach. He shook his head again, looked me straight in the eyes, and told me I just had to do it, she could see it clearly, period.
Today I’m flying to Amsterdam, that same “National Cello Competition”, became years ago the Cello Biennale Amsterdam”, and I’m going to play my fucking cello with my own fucking compositions. Tomorrow is the opening and I will play next to the winner of the previous edition. Hahahahahaaa … Provably I will meet Misha Maisky in the breakfast buffet of the hotel, my hero of youth! And I will play on the same stage as my Catalan hero Jordi Savall.
They way was not easy (seven years playing music in the streets…), but Kiki, you were right. I hope you’re still alive and I can kiss you in the mouth and give you some flowers. Your words were water in the middle of a desert.