Elizabeth Pitcairn: Classical Violinist, CEO

In this video, we interview internationally acclaimed violinist Elizabeth Pitcairn. She shares how to effectively cope with stress, be calmer and more efficient as a CEO, and live a more joyful life.

ELIZABETH PITCAIRN is the CEO of Luzerne Music Center & International Classical Violinist. She plays a beautiful 300-year-old Stradivarius, the famous “Red Violin”.

TRANSCRIPT: 

Elizabeth:

It’s wonderful to be here with you today. I perform the violin around the world. And I also am in music education with the Luzerne Music Center in upstate New York. It’s for children ages nine to 18. And that is my summer passion and the rest of the year, touring exploring the globe. I’ve played concerts in Carnegie Hall, the Academy of Music, Verizon Hall, in many countries in Europe, including Hungary, Czech Republic, Ukraine. Serbia debut coming up many concerts in Poland, as far as Hong Kong and southern China. And it was always a lifetime dream to travel the world with my very special violin, the Stradivarius 1720 called the Red Mendelssohn Stradivarius.

Dayana:

Would you mind sharing a little bit about how we came together? How did you find me? What made you curious about working with me perhaps?

Elizabeth:

Yes, well, it was definitely a highlight of the pandemic, actually, for me. Because of the pandemic, I was at home where I grew up in Bucks County. But after years and years of touring, it had taken its toll both emotionally and physically on me as a person. And when life sort of slowed down, it was a chance to take a look and really study. I was in a place mentally where I really wanted to learn and grow. And so then you came into my life. And you immediately made some, you educated me about certain things to do specifically with stress hormones. Right away, and just you explaining that made it so clear, to know what to look for and why these things were happening and what was causing it. And then I believe it was just right after that, that I called you and asked you if we could start sessions together. And then we went on a whole journey for well over a year before I started touring again. And I just feel that it changed so much. From so many perspectives, that was not only healing of what came before, but also a new direction, a new journey of adding to the music and adding to the expression and it’s also interconnected. And you showed me that so I don’t know why what brought us together. But I think I know what brought us together, it was finding, really finding you when I needed your help. You explained to me that sometimes the body produces the stress hormones out of proportion to the issue at hand. So it was almost addicted to, That’s what you said, to spiking to the hormone spiking out of control, even though it might be a small issue. They were overreacting. And as soon as you said that I stopped the caffeine. I started noticing when I would feel the stress welling up inside me and I knew what to look for. And it took a couple of weeks to actually simmer it down and start to control it. But once you pointed out what was happening, it was so freeing to know what it was and what to look for. And hence how to identify it and keep it at bay. And I have to say it hardly ever happens anymore. After a year I’m so grateful that at a professional standpoint I feel that our work together has helped me to be a much better CEO and have a very efficient, friendly atmosphere at work with the staff. And musically as touring has began again, you’ve helped me raise my playing to a whole new level that transcends anything I had done before. Healed some past injuries. And brought out a new musical approach that I’ll be using for the next 20 years.

Dayana:

For someone listening and wondering if this is for them. They could be a musician or they could be a high performer in other areas. What would you say to them? What kind of advice would you give them? If they’re considering working with me?

Elizabeth:

Well, if they are lucky enough to be able to come to Bucks County or Princeton, wherever you are, I think it’s worth it. I got so much out of just even the first few sessions with you and I was lucky enough to be nearby and be able to continue but sometimes we would also speak on the phone. For someone who’s looking for areas that could enhance their life and their performance and their business and even their romantic emotional life, I feel that you are a person who incorporates all of those areas and they’re all connected and you and you taught me that about those connections.

Dayana:

Amazing. Tell me a little bit about the violin because it’s its own unique instrument, right?

Elizabeth:

It is. It was made in 1720 in Cremona, Italy by Antonio Stradivari. He was 76 years old when he made it. Spruce and maple top. It came from the family von Mendelssohn in Berlin in the 1920s, it was played by Lily von Mendelssohn who was the daughter of the family. She was tragically killed in a car accident. But her children survived, and the violin survived.  Then it was at a private collection in New York City for 45 years before it was anonymously put on the auction block. I was a very lucky 16 year old, almost 17 year old violin, very serious young violinist at the time in 1990, when it came up, secretly at auction at Christie’s. Set a world record auction price, no one knew where the violin went. So it’s been with me now 32 years, and it just celebrated its 300th birthday in 2020. And as you can see, it’s in remarkable conditions, a lot of the original Red varnish on the top and this exquisite back. So one of the really finest examples of Stradivari and, and where it really shows, is in the large concert hall, when it reaches the last person and has an incredible carrying power to fill the hall.

Dayana:

If you were to name just the main benefits, that you got out of our relationship?

Elizabeth:

I feel that it actually impacted my life in a positive way, in so many areas. I think that the staff at camp and all the board members would say that I’m much calmer and more pleasant to be around and much more trusting and open with people, you know less defensive, less reactionary. So it’s just become such a wonderful environment because of that. And we accomplished a huge renovation project during the pandemic very successfully. And then in family relationships, it helps, it helps to be able to listen to what people say, and sort of be calm enough to hear them, not react. And try and understand their point of view where they’re coming from and actually de-escalate the situation, and maybe you hear it less defensively and that’s not at all what they meant. And otherwise you would have potentially caused an argument or have had hurt feelings. And so I just feel so much better about that. I think most people can identify with a relationship with a parent that might have been somewhat contentious growing up. And then to transition to adults is just a wonderful thing. And in my case, that was my relationship with my mother, who was a very accomplished musician and gave me everything all my life to make sure I became a great musician and  to really be able to appreciate her and what she has to offer. And change that was a great gift that you gave me. What else? Oh, there’s the music, of course, the playing, you know, the relationship with this wood which, but it’s really kind of alive in a way, right? It has a spirit, the two of us, the relationship of the child, the young person who grew up practicing many hours a day. Loving it, but also they’re maybe experiencing a little trauma in the process of being asked to practice for five hours a day from a young age, and giving up so much and feeling the pressure that it takes to, you know, to compete and to be good. And pressure on yourself to be good enough. And then to come back to it and just feel the love to let go of that. Like you said one of the most profound things you said “Come back, forget all of that. Just forget it. You still know, you still come back and you play your instrument. It’s just minus all of those memories.” And that was so freeing was a turning truly a turning point in my life. I learned how to ask in a positive manner for what I need to be calmer. And trust that trust in the good things that can come to you by asking. There’s so many things I have to think of them.

Dayana:

Thank you so so much. is there anything that I haven’t asked? Or that you want to share? Or requests? Or how could I improve my services? Anything you want to share?

Elizabeth:

Oh, I would just say, if I could see you every day I would. You could come with me on the tour.

Dayana:

I love that. I’ll consider that. That sounds good, actually. I haven’t seen that much Europe. That’s great, where are you playing next?

Elizabeth:

Um, we’re planning concerts in Serbia. I’ll be making my debut in Belgrade. Huge hall there. Southern France and Spain in September. And Warsaw, with the Chamber Orchestra. There’s so much appreciation in Europe and and then we always find the wonderful young students in those countries. We hear them play and then we connect them with sponsors in the US and sometimes those countries and it’s just a great way to nurture young people’s careers and keep this wonderful art going.

Dayana:

Thank you. You’re an amazing person and I am blessed working with you. It goes both ways.

Elizabeth:

It’s a wonderful friendship we have.