The latest instalment of Anthea Kreston’s diary on joining the Artemis Quartet yields further surprises – a degree in women’s studies, a decision to step off the fast track, and a baby on the way. Life’s rich tapestry in a string quartet. Enjoy.
When Slipped Disc asked me to write a weekly diary, my invitation to join the Artemis Quartet was just days old. I believe that Norman, (who I have not had the opportunity to meet yet) somehow enjoyed my pluck and thought I was a decent writer. Looking back to that day 6 weeks ago, I wonder what I was thinking to accept putting another thing on my already overflowing plate. But – it has been fun to write – and to ruminate during the week about what the next topic could possibly be. And the comments – these alone have been enough to entertain me for years!
I am the youngest of three girls, all musicians, and the daughter of an engineer and split piano/English major. Both of my sisters are musicians, as is my husband. I started playing violin at the age of 2.5, and although I have always been reasonably obsessed with music, I have also had, and continue to have, many different interests and passions.
After my years at Curtis, I earned a Women’s Studies degree – and it seems as if (I easily could be wrong here) this is not a well-known college degree option in Europe. What it taught me, more than anything, is that every story has an equally compelling and complex story on its flip side. In Women’s Studies, it is as if you look at every subject you have studied before, but you investigate what the women were doing during that point in history – or what were they painting, or inventing – or if they were not doing these things – why not? What were they doing – how and why and what obstacles did they encounter? Who were the first in their fields to break through?
For example – is anyone else as excited as I am about the recent breakthrough in the field of conducting for women? What an amazing thing – long overdue! A final frontier.
In many ways, this has been the influence of this diary. To look not at the finished performance – the review or the concert or the recording – but the journey, and most importantly – all of the other elements which make this kind of career possible. When I applied for this position, people advised me to not mention or talk about my children or my conscious choice to step off the music fast-track 6 years ago and have a family and raise them in a small liberal town in rural Oregon. However, I don’t see these things as a sign of weakness or inability for a person to have an intense job. I was open about my personal choices, and in fact, it was the quartet’s questions about Jason and my children which made me even more eager to be a part of this new extended family. They had long conversations with me about my family – and said – “without a happy home life, the quartet cannot be happy”. They reached out to Jason – and called him the keystone of the whole operation. What is the saying – “behind every great man is a great woman”? It so happens that in my case, the opposite is true.
So. Perhaps some weeks I will speak about everything except what I am doing with the quartet. In the true vein of a behind-the-scene diary. Is this so wrong? Also – a request came in for a very “musician-specific” post. I would also like to have a technical rehearsal-preparation entry – fingerings included!
On the plate this weekend – two days off, and my major concern is split between extreme personal practice (of which I need a lot – this Thursday’s rehearsal revealed one piece in which my preparation was woefully inadequate – I don’t want to be in that position ever again), and extreme family time, which has also been terribly neglected. I have rented a car and we will begin our search for the right neighborhood in Berlin to base ourselves permanently. The statement by the Artemis is absolutely true – the happiness of all members of my family is key to the happiness of all of our newly extended family.
To end – we are all holding our breaths for the imminent arrival of Ecki’s second child – it was due Friday! What a time of change and rebirth for all of us.
(c) Anthea Kreston/Slipped Disc