So, here’s how I get to play in the Berlin Philharmonic…

From our string-quartet diarist, Anthea Kreston:

I am exhausted. Totally and utterly exhausted. My eyes feel like they need to be moisturized, and I could go for a full-body detox, or a week in Michael Jackson’s Hyperbaric Chamber (recently rediscovered in a storage unit).  

I am wrapping up the end of the season with quartet, and on Monday we head in to a modified six-month sabbatical, one which was planned three years ago, before the events which eventually lead to uprooting my family from our sleepy little town in the Pacific Northwest, and on three weeks notice beginning our lives anew in a new culture, a new way of life. After I joined, we decided to open the sabbatical on any mutually free days, and so we do meet occasionally, for a concert here or there – in Krakow, Brussels, or the Netherlands.  

When I learned of the sabbatical I thought to myself – goodness – what will we do in Berlin for six months?  We have no connections, we know no musicians or presenters. But, as the year progressed, we did begin to make connections – and to strengthen old ones in the United States. And now I find myself in a veritable tornado of concerts. A musician’s dream – a buffet of musical opportunities a person wouldn’t even dare to add to a bucket list. 

On Monday I begin putting together all 10 Beethoven Violin Sonatas for a concert series in Berlin. Amongst those rehearsals is the Mendelssohn Octet with an incredible cast of musicians, as well as the odd chamber music reading session with new friends. 

Then – I get to play as a substitute with the Berlin Philharmonic. Bucket list extraordinaire. I got a call also to be assistant concertmaster for an incredible Opera Orchestra, but I was already scheduled for Berlin. What???  Crazy, absolutely crazy. 

Then, I head to Italy for a tour with Performance Today – American Public Media’s  legendary and utterly charming and insightful host Fred Child leads four busses of classical music enthusiasts through Italy, by deluxe boat and bus, and has asked me to be the guest soloist for the tour. Vivaldi Four Seasons in Venice, three recitals, daily interviews, and I think I even get to be one of those people who hold the microphone in front of a bus and talk. Maybe I can have that super chair by the bus driver that folds up and down. I will also be leading a book discussion group – I love to do this. And of course answering questions about this Diary. 

A smattering of quartet concerts happen before our family heads to Northern Italy for two weeks with Amelia Piano Trio (yeah Amy Yang!  I miss you) – several concerts – and teaching old students from Oregon as well as new students we bring from Berlin, all in a small magical town in the Dolomites. 

Next – I will be teaching and performing at the Curtis Institute in Philadelphia.  And we return from the States just 2 days before school restarts. So there went the Sabbatical. It has disappeared before we even had a minute to catch our breaths.  

My late evening practice sessions with my hotel mute have taken a completely different bent – the Chaconne, Janacek violin sonata, Kreisler and Biber replace what was once the second violin parts of the major quartet literature. Am I a different violinist now?  Absolutely – my nuances are more varied, my commitment to emotional detail refined. Will I still get a little crazy and go too far sometimes?  I can’t imagine life and music without that!

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  • Ha ha I know. I agree totally. You only get one shot at life though, so I figure I may as well just go for it. Thanks for all of the support, Bruce!

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