Having it all is not all that it looks

Having it all is not all that it looks


norman lebrecht

November 09, 2018

From our hectic diarist Anthea Kreston:


Prepping for our upcoming quartet concerts this week in Italy and a return to London (Wigmore Hall), I can barely get everything done. Plans for the future have me sending off CV’s, preparing for auditions, having interviews, and learning new repertoire, quickly. I brush my teeth in the shower and clip my nails at the red lights – I listen to the repertoire for Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra on my headphones as my fingers drum out passages from Bartok String Quartets. Moment after moment, I have a breakthrough, and in the next second I can’t stop replaying some regrettable mistake I have made.

I have spent two days again at the magical Castle Liberamé, tucked into the meeting point between Belgium, Germany and the Netherlands. The castle is completely surrounded by a generous moat, and the only access to the Caste is by a stone bridge, built in 1796, which replaced the original drawbridge. The owners have become like an extended family to me – we meet up in Berlin for a concert or meal, they invite me to bring Jason to the Schloss, presenting us with my teaching colleague from Berlin as a trio for the first time. Returning again this week, we were welcomed at the front door with glasses of champagne, and spent hours together, eating lobster, chestnut soup with truffle, and using the Belgian butter generously on anything that was willing.

It is at these moments that I feel my best – that I can see that classical music is a thing which brings people together, creates a community. We need each other. As the newly christened Trio Liberamé was rehearsing, the host stayed in the room, clearly overcome by his emotions. Not just once did we stop the rehearsal to answer his questions, or to enjoy another round of hugging or a glass of wine. His joy was our joy, and after the concert, sitting in the rustic basement (with the original well and cobblestone floor) around a huge, single slab table, we made plans for our next visit – perhaps he would come to Berlin to read a Mozart piano quartet with us (he is an amateur violist).

It is also at these moments that I think about death – not in a negative or sad way, just as an inevitability. It seems like, lately, every week, something happens to one of my friends or acquaintances. They die young, unexpectedly, or have diagnoses. I have thoughts, like, „I could die any day – there is so much left I need to do – I have to do it all”, and the next second “I need to move to the mountains, hug my family, and do absolutely nothing”.

I know that all of my family has grown in ways which will forever change each of our destinies. I am determined to make the right choice next – I won’t know the next step for many months, and it will be years before I can look back and see if it was the right choice.

I don’t know exactly what I am looking for, but I know it has to be something which is equally good for all four of us, the Kreston-Duckles. A safe place, a place where we are needed and a place where we need others. A place with challenges and beauty and space to grow. So, for now, I just am looking, preparing, and dreaming. I try to put myself 30 years into the future, and to look back at this pivotal moment from there, to imagine all the different paths and consequences. I have to be strong and smart and flexible and open – and I hope I can read these words in 30 years and know I did my very best.



  • Mick the Knife says:

    “…I can’t stop replaying some regrettable mistake I have made.” Does this refer to practice, past concerts?

    • Anthea Kreston says:

      Hi Mick,
      Oh – anything – something I should have done, something I said, something I wished I had practiced more, so many things…..

  • Marg says:

    Anthea – Im at the other end of that 30 year wait to look back and say did I make the right decision. And of course it is generally always the right decision in the sense that if you are as careful with marking it as you are, it will be a good one. There is always more than one option, often all are good, but pick one and it will work out for you. Mine was an off-the wall out-of-left field decision, and looking back Id do it again, though Id live bits of out slightly differently in hindsight. What helped me at the time was knowing that almost no decision is so final you cant make changes or course corrections. M

    • Anthea Kreston says:

      Marg – thanks for this! The world is so complex – I think about the gun violence in the States, and the distance between us and family – so many variables! It is great to free my mind as you suggested – no decision has to be firm – there is always room to wiggle…..