Cellist Ian Maksin first stepped on stage at age six, playing for his hometown of St. Petersburg, Russia. But a more defining moment in the young cellist’s life came five years later, when a pilot friend took him for a ride on an old biplane. “It was the most liberating experience of my life,” he tells us via e-mail.
After spending 18 years on stages throughout Europe, Asia and the Americas, the 34-year-old still finds inspiration from that first trip in the clouds, as evidenced by his debut solo release, Solo Flight. Two gigs—a tune-up at Heaven Gallery followed by an official release party at the Joynt—showcase material from this impressive recording, which features a diverse batch of Maksin’s favorite cello works. Bach’s Cello Suites in G major and D minor lead into the dolorous “Prayer” by local composer Ilya Levinson, followed by a thrilling, beautifully executed flamenco suite by Gaspar Cassadó.
For three years, Maksin has called Chicago home. “I wake up inspired every morning, looking out my window at the Sears Tower,” he says. The Lincoln Park resident has an extraordinarily flexible, persuasive style, which fluctuates effortlessly between turbulent passion and deep tenderness. Maksin’s CV lists the Atlantic Classical Orchestra, Illinois Symphony and Ravinia. But he’s also cut his teeth on the rock and hip-hop scene.
In 2004, the avid Sting fan backed up P. Diddy at the MTV VMAs, and in 2008 he played Lollapalooza with Swedish singer Sofia Talvik. He’s also frequently collaborated with Chicago-based rockers Butterfly Assassins. “My main mission is to make my music available to people who don’t regularly go see classical concerts,” he says. “I believe I can help them discover something beautiful and fall in love with it.” By the sound of Solo Flight, he just might do it.