So now I get to teach Joseph Joachim’s class

Our latest diary instalment from Anthea Kreston, wide-eyed American violinist in the Berlin-based Artemis Quartet.


This week the teaching part of my job with the Artemis began. In addition to playing concerts, the position came with two teaching positions – one at the Universität der Künste Berlin (University of the Arts), and the other is the Queen Elizabeth Music Chapel in Brussels.

The UdK is the largest art school in Europe and is known to be one of the most diverse arts schools world-wide. Past teachers include Feuermann, Joachim, Clara Schumann, and Schoenberg. The Artemis is on faculty – we each have responsibility for 6 chamber groups, and in addition we share 8 “master groups” amongst us, helping to prepare them for international competitions and the day-to-day details of beginning a career as a professional quartet.

There are also open master classes and concerts to attend. This week we got the names of our groups and have begin to set up the schedule.

Chapel is located in a beautiful little town just south of the main Brussels airport. The Artemis Quartet is the Master Quartet in Residence, and is in charge of all chamber music that happens in this highly usual place. There are a handful of teachers – Gary Hoffman for cello, Augustin Dumay violin, Miguel da Silva viola, Maria João Pires piano, Alfred Brendel piano, and the Artemis.  The Artemis each visit Chapel individually several times per year for a handful of days for intense work with the chamber groups which we have selected from live auditions. The facilities are incredible – a historic building houses the staff and many Curtis-style practice/teaching/performing rooms. The new wing is state-of-the-art with three concert venues, 10 studios for the 10 selected solo artists/students, and a fully-staffed kitchen and rec area.

The groups which I coached were all in the midst of healthy careers – having won international competitions, with management, and recording contracts. It felt a little like being back at Curtis – when I landed there at age 18 it seemed like everyone was already completely established with full careers.

The groups themselves mainly travel to Chapel for our coachings – several are based in Paris. I met for three-hour sessions with each group, in the wooden concert hall with a backdrop of a full glass wall looking out to a forest with passing deer.  If it sounds unbelievable, it felt unbelievable. Outside the main entrance was a reflecting pool with the requisite mold-covered Greek goddess sculpture. Just paradise.  And there were lots of cappuccino machines sprinkled throughout the buildings. On more than one occasion I was steered away from one machine by a student, with the advice of finding a better one in the next room. I liked that.

The groups I worked with were Trio Busch (preparing for a possible manager), Trio Zadig (now at the Fischoff Competition), Quartuor Hermès (winners of Young Concert Artists and preparing for a recording of the Ravel Quartet), Quartour Arod (getting ready for ARD) and Trio Medici (competition the following day).  All of the groups were focused, exquisite, and open to my suggestions. The repertoire was – for trio – Beethoven Op. 1/1, Op. 1/3, Mendelssohn 1 and 2, Shostakovich, Ravel – for quartet Beethoven 132, Ravel, Bartok 3, and Haydn 76/1.  Lots to have on hand, especially since I have had to get 12 quartets up and running for the Artemis.  But – luckily I had played all the trios and all but one quartet.

On the final day I was miked and readied for a video 2 hour masterclass. It might already be up on the Chapel website, not sure. The groups were Arod and Zadig and I think we had a great time. We were loose but serious – I pushed but was supportive. In the end, we had an audience singalong to the Beethoven 132. See – late Beethoven isn’t scary!

Speaking of rep – guess what is on the docket for me coming up?  Am I the luckiest girl alive – pinch me I must be dreaming!  Schubert Quintet in Istanbul with Gautier Capuçon, then Beethoven 135, 130, 133, Mozart Dissonance, Schubert G Major, Bartok 2, Shostakovich 7 and the quintet, Mendelssohn 44/1, and Schumann 1 and 3.  Recording for Warner – probably Shostakovich and beginning of  Bartok box.

Aaaaaaaand we have water in the kitchen now. For the love of all things Good and Mighty I have clean socks and don’t have to do the dishes in the bathtub anymore.

Last piece of advice – don’t try to dump the leftover oatmeal down the tub drain. It doesn’t really work.

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  • Fabulous diary, Anthea! It must be extraordinary to work alongside these masters, and coach the many gifted musicians. In reflection, there was a one year period when Adele Marcus asked me to be one of her assistants. I cannot begin to express the best words to describe how gratifying it was to coach her wonderful students. And, in the teaching process, learned so much more about the music. They have moved on to their own careers as performers and formidable professors. It’s all about keeping the tradition as best as we can. Looking forward to more of your experiences there.

  • Thank you Norman for posting this diary. I am really enjoying reading it. It’s so interesting to get to know that backstory to professional musicians/groups and this is so instructive and enjoyable to read.

  • These are wonderful posts from Anthea Kreston. I really appreciate the positive generous spirit, and the window into the life of a professional musician. Please keep them coming.

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