How’s life after Covid? Same as before?

How’s life after Covid? Same as before?


norman lebrecht

May 13, 2021

A despatch from our occasional contributor, violinist Anthea Kreston:

Our Pandemic Year. Death, uncertain illness, social injustice, terrifying racism, an earth on the brink. How each of us has made it is a puzzle of such determination, depression, hope and disappointment. But here we are. And what now? What do we make of this soup of continuing disparate tragedies – only the historians a century into the future will give this time its proper place in history.

True confession: I have had quite a wonderful year. Is it even ok that I say this, I wonder? I feel guilty even thinking it. Lucky in love, location, vocation, finances and family. Luck and careful planning – these gave me a net of safety – even as the world seemed to collapse.

And now – how can we say we see the light at the end of the tunnel? For some of us, we do – and as we do, what kind of life can we craft for ourselves going forward? What priorities, what fundamentals of a life of a musician now seem less attractive – more a shell of perceived fulfillment and happiness than actual, tangible goodness for our fragile, short lives. What does matter, in the end?

Do we want to start the crazy busyness again – the endless hours of practice, rehearsal and travel, the stress of concerts and exhaustion of waking up to do it all over again the next day, all the while making arrangements for someone else to take care of our families for us, or wishing we had the time to find a family to be a part of or to create?

Maybe I am saying this because I have found such a snuggly, warm and cosy happiness in my own home. Or am I saying it because deep down, I don’t think I can ever have the kind of successes I once enjoyed – is classical music as we know it over? Am I too old, not good enough for the tightened and more competitive music industry that will be the future? Has classical music fundamentally changed?

I loved seeing everyone on zoom in their sweatpants this year, playing in their messy living rooms and hearing random life noises in the background. Is it possible that we have turned a full circle, and the music that was composed for friends in the living room, to be played by a hodgepodge of more and less able musicians, with a beverage or two under our belts, can be our new norm?

For me, I look forward to the occasional zesty enterprise – judging international competitions in beautiful locations, playing concerts with dear friends who make me laugh, reading quartets in my garden between the tomatoes and strawberries, hugging my children, kissing my husband, learning about and fighting for justice and a healthy planet as best as I can, and having a house filled with good food and laughter.



  • RW2013 says:

    Happy memories of our visit to the Mendelssohn graves!

  • John Borstlap says:

    I can reassure Mrs Kreston that the world is not falling apart. There are big problems, but hasn’t it always been like that? As for classical music, for a while resources will be less generous, but every crisis offers the opportunity for renewal and reform, so it is to be hoped that a lot of nonsense which has eroded the classical music world will disappear – simply because of the background in society.

    • Anthea Kreston says:

      Hi John!
      Yes – it does feel like things are starting up again – seems a dream to think of flying and playing again…..feeling optimistic!

  • Andreas B. says:

    Good to see Anthea back on SD!
    Always inspiring and thought provoking.

  • Fred Funk says:

    After COVID, the viola players just have a bigger library of excuses for not practicing.