Out of the operating theatre, into the string quartet

Our weekly diary from Anthea Kreston, new member of the Artemis Quartet, takes a dramatic turn with a visit to the surgeon, and strict orders not to play for a week. Read on:

A month and a day

On January 7, I stepped on a plane in Portland, Oregon, heading to Berlin, Germany to audition for the spot of second violin for the Artemis Quartet. On February 8, I again step on a plane in Portland, Oregon, heading to Berlin Germany, but this trip doesn’t have a return. With me this time is my husband, cellist Jason Duckles, and our very excited daughters, age 4 and 6.  In just over a month, our lives have taken a 180 degree turn.

baby elephant berlin

Did you know that there is a baby elephant at the zoo in Berlin?  And Legoland. And a Cat Cafe – you can pet a cat while having a cookie. Those were the main selling points for the shorter members of the Kreston-Duckles household. The selling points for the taller members are too numerous to list here, but here is a summary.

– I get to rehearse and play with my favorite quartet in the world. Rehearsing might be even more fun than the performing.

– My children grow up in a wonderful culture, and learn to speak multiple languages.My husband will be able to stay at home with the children.

– I get to see the world and play wonderful music along the way.

– We can live in one of the most exciting cities in Europe.

When the Artemis asked me to come play the auditions (because I was coming from so far away they asked me to prepare for both rounds in one visit), I had a little less than 2 weeks to learn large segments of 8 quartets. Now I had 2 weeks (it took time to solidify the programs with the presenters) to ready 6 quartets in entirety, concert-ready.

These are:

Mozart 387
Beethoven 59/1
Janacek “Kreutzer Sonata”
Wolff Italian Serenade
Shostakovich 5

I also had to:

– Get papers in order for a German work Visa

– Liquidate our belongings – a house and two cars

– Set up our rental house with long-term renters

– Do taxes

– Sell extra violas and violins

– Organize for international shipping of essentials (read: art, music, large 6 foot stuffed panda)

– Pass off my concert series to a new director

– With grace, cancel my season of concerts

– Rent a flat in Berlin

– Get flights for the March European tour and April USA tour (thank you Daniela)

– Get the whole family to the doctor and collect records as well

Yesterday was our last business day – we split up to each handle a huge list of final preparations.

Two days ago, the doctor called – the sample they took from my back last week wasn’t cancer, but it has enough red flags to warrant a full removal.  Thursday morning I went in for a larger procedure than I expected (on several occasions, someone even said “suction please”).  At the end – the instructions were – no lifting or playing violin for one week, and please take it very easy for three – if you rip stitches now the recovery will double.  Hrumph.  I have an idea!  Let’s move to Germany for a huge violin job, but not lift anything (or anyone
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    • There is no need for you to read Anthea Kreston’s diary if you feel such great disgust. As for myself, I enjoy following along with a refreshing perspective that reveals the more personal story that articles do not. Yes, indeed, high-profile musicians are humans too. They celebrate simple joys and deal with human concerns… Is that such a crime?

  • I’m anxiously awaiting the next entry! It’s a blessing to be able to vicariously experience a life of such promise & richness! Let’s all just wish her the very best as that is what she deserves!

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