Now I’m going to have to learn to play standing up

Now I’m going to have to learn to play standing up


norman lebrecht

February 13, 2016

In her latest diary entry on joining the Artemis Quartet, Anthea Kreston finds she has even more to adjust to than just changing ensemble and country.


anthea kreston1


Looking at the calendar, I realize that we have our first concerts three weeks from today. The frenetic energy and non-stop doing of the past three weeks will not abate, but it has already changed course. Instead of packing, tying up endless loose ends, and saying farewell to family and friends, we are getting settled in our new apartment, figuring out the ubahn, finding the grocery store, and trying to make the girls’ landing as spectacular and filled with wonder as possible.

The Artemis is just my kind of band – everyone is super organized, both in and out of the practice room, and excited to dig in, and dig in hard to these amazing pieces. And we sweat during the rehearsals. You know – the Artemis is one of just a few groups which performs standing up, and I was curious if this was the way rehearsals would be conducted. Tomorrow all seven hours will be standing – and the energy expended at the beginning equals the energy at the end.

I was given the master calendar – each day has a 4 hour rehearsal, and often, because of the time crunch, an additional 3 hour rehearsal in the evening. Each rehearsal is assigned a movement, and often two – a big amount of work for the time. They are not content to just “fit me in” to the pieces they have played before – they want to hear my new perspective and are happy to entertain new bowings, colors. Also – I realize that I have to keep on top of learning German – a portion of rehearsals are already in German – I wish I had paid more attention during my (gulp) one semester at Curtis all those years ago. Luckily Jason’s German is fairly good, and he got some books for me today. I will get a tutor as soon as I can come up for air.

Today was our first rehearsal – because of my emergency back procedure, I was not able to play for a week, and am supposed to be on modified schedule for three weeks (I don’t see this as a realistic option).  I took a double dose of ibuprofen when I came home today, but stitches are holding strong. By tomorrow evening (after 7 hours of rehearsing tomorrow and 4 today) we will have worked our way through the entire Beethoven Op. 59 #1.  Then on to Grieg – and this is the pace for the next three weeks. It reminds me of my student days preparing for international competitions – a blend of (un?)realistic optimism, passion, and determination. “No” is not an option here.

And my family – the girls (age 4&6) can’t possibly understand jetlag – and they can’t stay awake past 4:00 in the afternoon. They wake up around midnight – last night was later – 2 AM.  Then they want to have kindergarten and jump on the bed and play with their toys. Jason and I take turns cat-napping until around 8.  This morning at 3, they decided to just go upstairs and make breakfast by themselves. Oh dear.

Anyway – all is well! My first work-visa appointment happens Monday, and meetings Tuesday evening with the manager, publicist, and secretary to go over the many logistics of keeping this fine stallion of a quartet running on all cylinders. What a ride though!

‘Till next week

artemis quartet1


  • RW2013 says:

    How many musicians practise, rehearse and perform constantly without advertising their every move? Isn’t that something that should be restricted to one of those grubby little social networks.

    • jim says:

      Nice of you to click on this article (when you could easily have ignored it if it’s not your cup of tea) just to leave a grumpy comment!

    • Bruce says:

      Indeed. She clearly owes you an apology for forcing you to read about her against your will.

      • RW2013 says:

        More like the fascinated glance at road kill…

        • Scott Fields says:

          At least she has enough courage to accept responsibility for what she writes, unlike whoever “RE2013” might be.

        • Bruce says:

          Of course. “I wouldn’t waste my time following such a tawdry little story. Why, just look at what she’s doing now!” 🙂

          • RW2013 says:

            R2 who?
            Sorry, not a follower of Merkin pop-culture.
            And I’m actually the Milka-Borstlap love child.
            But really, do you all want to go and hear this quartet and be distracted by wondering if the kids are in bed, who Jason is, if she’s taken her pills…?
            And what’s next week? A blow-by-blow description of her fingering her part? (String players will know what’s meant).

          • james says:

            You’re not meant to read this blog during the concert

          • Scott Fields says:

            “Beep, fizzle, beep beep beep, squank, fizzle fizzle,” RW2013, 2016.

    • Alla Aranovskaya, First Violinist of the St. Petersburg Quartet says:

      Absolutely agree with you.
      Artemis Quartet with previous First Violinist brilliant Natalia Prischepenko never need such cheap way to advertise this world known and exellent (on that time) group.
      I haven’t heard Artemis with new members yet. Maybe they still exellent -this is I will be able to tell when I’ll listen them life- but this article shows me clearly that they are having problem without Natalia and triyng to make group visible makin such funny article that can attract only non professional musicians.

      Hope to hear them in the USA.

      • james says:

        Yes, they must be having big problems and need cheap publicity. You can just hear the crickets, looking at their schedule in the next few weeks…Concertgebouw, Carnegie Hall, Wigmore Hall, Berliner Philharmonie…

      • james says:

        Also, the irony of a professional violinist commenting on a “funny article that can attract only non professional musician”

  • Nathaniel Anderson-Frank says:

    Actually, I was just thinking what an amazingly generous insight we have been given into the workings of one of the world’s great string quartets. Truly fascinating and exciting to hear of this musician’s entry into the ensemble. How dare anyone think to belittle her achievement or her chronicle thereof. ‘RW2013’, your comment is either extremely ignorant or in the poorest taste. Shame. Crawl back to your cave and troll elsewhere.

  • Fred Vanzee says:

    First of all Slipped Disc asked her to write a weekly diary so there’s no need to berate her for writing this compelling journal. Secondly, if you don’t like it just simply ignore it or don’t read these at all. There’s no need to criticize others writing or lives.

  • Franklin says:

    These comments are hilarious.

  • Oliver says:

    “They are not content to just ‘fit me in’ to the pieces they have played before – they want to hear my new perspective and are happy to entertain new bowings, colors.”

    Sounds like a wonderful metaphor for social integration. (Germany, 2016)

  • Nicola Lefanu says:

    Can’t we have a bit of webmaster redacting ?
    The thread got off to a terrible start with RW2013 .

    And guys – it’s best not to reply to trolls. Just grit your teeth and don’t give them the ‘oxygen of publicity’ (as Mrs Thatcher used to say)

    • Scott Fields says:

      Requiring real names would help tame the trolls.

      p.s. Beep beep, fizzle.

      • Alla Aranovskaya, First violinist of the Grammy nominated St. Petersburg String Quartet says:

        I gave my real name and I’m agree with the post of the person who you named troll

        • Scott Fields says:

          Indeed, the comment about people who don’t give their real names does not apply to people who do give their real names.

          The comment about people who don’t give their real names applies only to people who do not give their real names. They appear to be the source of the nastiest comments.

          Which isn’t you, who gives your real name, but is people like RW2013 (who I suspect is R2D2, from the original Star Wars series), who doesn’t.

  • Margaret says:

    I think I am falling in love with Scott Fields