Laia Martin, a young pianist, found herself in the world’s headlines this year when a neighbour persuaded police to prosecute her for noise pollution, an offence that carries a maximum seven-year jail term. Laia, 28, was acquitted on all charges and retreated to her piano studio, away from the unwanted limelight. But when Slipped Disc reached out to her, she agreed to give an exclusive account of her ordeal. From what she tells us, it will take her family years to recover from the financial damage of this malicious and unnecessary prosecution.
Here’s Laia story in her own words:
I started playing the piano at six years old. I asked my mum to go. All my life I said I wanted to be pianist, nothing more, but I don’t know why. Love for music was always with me. I was lucky as a child that the director, Josep Vinyet, of a very well-known festival was our neighbour and I could listen to a lot of concerts there and know musicians…
I studied first in my village with Salvador de Montellà and Diana González. After high school, I studied at the Manresa Conservatory of Music with Carles Julià, with whom I felt it possible that music would be my life. After taking a Bachelor Degree at the Liceu Conservatory of Music in Barcelona with Stanislav Pochekin for the last two years, I have been a student of pianist Oxana Yablonskaya. I’m working to go to some competitions in Italy and I have some concerts in Spain.
When I got the first letter from the town hall that we were reported by our neighbour I was already studying out of my village. So, we replied to the report, and I found a piano in a concert hall to play when I had to be in my village.
We faced not only legal costs. We spent an incredible amount of money during all of this situation, soundproofing the flat, paying the rent of one house for two and a half years, and building a new house. We know that studying music is very expensive, and my working class family had to add all these costs. So, it has been a very huge effort for my family economically.
I have to be thankful for our lawyer, Marc Molins Raich, and our acoustic engineer, Bartomeu Rosselló Boeres. Asking for me and my parents to go to jail was much harder. I was very young, I couldn’t understand what was happening because we tried everything, but it never was enough and recognized. So we spent too much energy trying to get somebody to listen and believe us without any result and feeling misunderstood and defenceless. Through all this we became mentally stronger.
It all seems so contradictory. Because of music I was stuck in this process, but at the same time thanks to music it was easier to manage. Loving and believing in what you are doing is the strongest feeling that can move us, and I had to fight for music.
I’m not conscious of having been the centre of something, because I avoided reading or watching almost everything. But all the time I felt responsible for all the musicians, because I knew the whole time what my case could mean for all of us. I don’t know if I changed. I think, better said, I grew up. I learned and I felt many things during the week of the trial, in very different ways. The most important is that I felt new hope for people with all the support and affection they showed me, that I want to be really thankful from here on.
When it was over, I only thought about playing the piano; I couldn’t wait. I will remember for forever that feeling I had. My sound changed, I was free. I’m surprised how it changed, like magic, and how I could feel it. Now I’m very anxious for the first concert, which I will play on the 21st of December in Barcelona.
I love chamber music. To share music on the stage is the most beautiful feeling. Now I have the chance to be a member of two duos. One is Follia Duo with the recorder player Rosa Camps with whom I have played before. We are getting together this year to play the program “Follia! Baroque in the 20th Century.” The other group is the recently formed duo with the well-known Spanish violinist Jordán Tejedor with whom I will perform programs from Spanish and French composers of the 19th and the 20th Century, as well as the Sonata nº 1 op. 80 by Sergey Prokofiev.
Also I’m very excited about the solo concert program I’m working on that contains pieces related to the region I am from: Poetic Waltzes by Enrique Granados and the suite “Cerdanya” by Déodat de Séverac. I feel the need to perform these pieces at this moment, and I think it is the best way to express all the emotions I have inside. It will be so special to perform this program as well, because I have included the Polonaise-Fantaisie op. 61 by Frédéric Chopin, which my teacher Oxana Yablonskaya says is a battle with a happy end, just like my story.