A social whirl to blot out the news

Our weekly diarist Anthea Kreston, violinist of the Artemis Quartet, packs her diary in election week:

On the morning after the United States election, exhausted and emotionally torn, Jason and I find ourselves both in transit, me to Brussels for three days of teaching at the Queen Elizabeth Chapel (the Artemis Quartet is the resident chamber music faculty) and Jason off for a concert as a temporary member of the Eisler Quartet. A series of fortuitous events has landed Jason quickly into a busy performing schedule – beyond the Eisler, he continues his work with the Metamorphosen Berlin chamber orchestra and has just been hired (after the first orchestral audition of his life) by the Konzerthaus Orchester for a half-year position, including an extensive Asian tour. On my side, a thrilling call from the Curtis Institute of Music finds me as a guest teacher during part of our quartet sabbatical this coming year. Humboldt Streichtrio (with original Artemis violist Volker Jacobsen) rehearsals begin soon for a handful of concerts, and planing for USA concerts for Amelia Piano Trio is underway. 

As I wait for my flight, I realise how much our family has grown in these past 10 months. Now Jason and I are well-accustomed to both running an efficient and fun-filled home, as well as stepping on and off the international concert circuit. We can trade effortlessly between these jobs – now able to ask each other for help on any front – from how to stock a fridge for a babysitter to what best to pack for tour. Depending on who has the heavier day ahead, we trade off between the early-to-bed or early-to-rise parent, and the girls have become more independent with a flexible pick-up time from school. 

I have also come out of my social semi-hibernation.  We have hosted a number of parties – from our older daughter’s entire first grade class (parents only), where I piloted a “swap” of household goods and clothing (the remainder filled our car to the brim and was dropped off for refugee families), to our second “Bebersee first Monday of the Month” party.  Also in the mix, a reciprocated “grown-up” dinner party for eight (no musicians – just a mix of acquaintances from the media, literary and medical professions), which we somehow managed to pull off with a modicum of style and class, despite my slightly off-the-cuff cooking style. 

The Bebersee party was a lot of fun, and was a great opportunity for us to continue our friendships forged at the summer festival. Among the guests were Clemens Trautmann (president of Deutsche Grammophon), pianist Markus Groh and violinist Franziska Hoelscher.  Initially, Monday evening was the only day that this mix of touring artists could agree on, but we realised the fun part of a first Monday of the month is actually an early commitment to fun for the whole week, if not the month.

As ridiculous as it is to stay up very late, and spend Tuesday slightly hung-over, it has a sense of “devil-may-care” about it. I always introduce a non-healthy and silly American food – the first was nachos and the second was s’mores, with our marshmallows roasted over tea-candles. As was the case with Nachos, my hunt for ingredients was underestimated. Marshmallows I could find, and I substituted Hershey’s milk chocolate for Milka (even meltier!) but for the graham cracker sandwich, no luck. I realised the fundamental quality of the sandwich element was a crunchy, thin, and impossible to control crumbling. Part of the fun of a s’more is that it naturally falls apart in an unpredictable way, usually making the chocolate or marshmallows careen into your face or fall on your clothes. Licking fingers is a necessity, and laughing can’t be controlled, between the combustion of marshmallows and chocolate on your pants. I settled on a super crispy, thin waffle cookie. Worked like a charm, and we were all giggling and pointing out smudges on each other’s faces in no time.  I wish I had brought my twister game with me – I had been carrying around my original game for all of these years, pulling it out at parties, but it didn’t make the cut for the move to Berlin. 

Phones off for the airplane now – until next week!

anthea vineta

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  • Fascinating: The Berlin Konzerthaus Orchestra is rather a good band: often overshadowed by some of the other Berlin orchestras, it has the advantage of a superbly beautiful concert hall in the centre of eastern Berlin.

  • Amazes me what you fit into your schedule! So impressed with the clothing swap and taking a car load for refugees. Could be nothing more fitting as an unspoken objection to Trump’s position on migrants, Muslims, etc. Good for you.

  • With the greatest respect, it reminds me of what a hypothetical Christmas letter from Private Eye’s Polly Filler might be like – if Polly was interested in music, that is.

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