Out of the operating theatre, into the string quartet

Out of the operating theatre, into the string quartet


norman lebrecht

February 05, 2016

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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  • RW2013 says:

    Just imagine if all musicians wrote their diaries here!
    Already wearing thin…

    • Alora Martorello says:

      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?

  • Brent Straughan says:

    Why not, sounds absolutely wonderful!

  • Abigail Stoughton says:

    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!