Renowned cellist Mischa Maisky returns to Israel for a series of concerts with the Moscow Virtuosi ensemble under the baton of Vladimir Spivakov. With these concerts, the acclaimed ensemble celebrates its 35th anniversary, as well as the 70th birthday of violinist/conductor Spivakov, the founder and musical director.As a musician with an international career, the 65-yearold Maisky, one of the leading cellists of our time, is a very serious person. But when it comes to interviews, another facet emerges – that of a witty, intelligent and easy-going man.Speaking from Amsterdam via Skype on his way to a rehearsal for a cello festival concert, Maisky says that the most important event in his life right now is that he and his second wife are expecting a baby girl.“So if everything goes well, in February I will be the father of six children,” he says. “What does that have to do with music? Well, let’s say Bach composed six suites for cello solo, and I will be the father of six.But speaking more seriously, I am alive and in good health and am doing what I enjoy most, to the pleasure of the audience.”He elaborates, “Yesterday I performed a special concert with my pianist daughter Lily, which is not new – we’ve been playing together for almost about 10 years. Recently my violinist son Sasha joined us. We perform chamber trios, as well as Beethoven’s triple concerto and Brahms’s double concerto. As a family trio, we have appeared in several festivals and are going to Japan and Korea at the end of the year. This is a dream come true for me,” he says.“In addition, I perform with pianist Martha Argerich. Next year, I will celebrate 40 years of our close friendship and musical partnership on stage. I consider it a great honor and a great good fortune. I think I am one of the luckiest cellists in the world. I was privileged to be the only cellist who studied with both Rostropovich and Piatigorsky. And in Jerusalem, I had the chance to meet Pablo Casals two months before he passed away at age 97. I am also lucky in my musical partnerships, starting with Radu Lupu at the Moscow Conservatory and many others. And, of course, this incredible good fortune of playing music with my children.Believe me, I sometimes feel guilty about being so lucky!” he says.With the Moscow Virtuosi, Maisky will play Haydn’s Concerto in G Major, as well as Tchaikovsky’s Nocturno and Kol Nidrei by Bruch, “which I play in one piece,” he notes.In addition to the cello pieces, the program also features popular arias performed by soloists of the Moscow Bolshoi Theater.Maisky has nothing but praise for the Moscow Virtuosi.“I have played with them several times before, and it is a wonderful orchestra. It is always a pleasure to play with them, but the most important thing was to return to Israel. I never miss an opportunity to perform there,” he says.Maisky quips that with all due respect to the caring Jewish mother, the Jewish father’s role should not be underestimated.And since he returns once and again to the theme of his music cooperation with his children from his first marriage, this is perfectly true for him.“The musical connection with my kids is difficult to explain,” he says. “I always dreamed of playing with them, but I started playing with my daughter almost by chance. It was her mother’s birthday, and we decided to make a surprise concert for her. We never rehearsed, but from the first moment it sounded as if we had been performing together for years! For me, it was an amazing experience. That is why I decided to continue it on stage. Lily was under 18 when we first officially performed together, and since then we’ve been performing all over the world – in Japan, the US and Europe. Of course we do rehearse, but we don’t speak much, and it comes naturally, easily, spontaneously, which makes the concerts especially exciting. With Lily at the piano, I feel totally free because I know she will always be with me, and the other way round. Even though by virtue of my experience I take the lead, she has plenty of musical ideas of her own as well; and as a very open-minded person, I am happy to discuss her suggestions.The same goes for my musical relationship with Sasha. I would love to play in Israel with my family trio,” he says.The concerts take place on November 5 in Haifa; November 6 in Ashdod; November 7 in Beersheba; and November 8 in Tel Aviv. For reservations: Bravo box office.