Anthea Kreston is back, with another string quartetNews
Loyal readers will remember Anthea Kreston, who wrote a weekly column in slippedisc on her life as an American in Berlin, a certified outlier within the exceedingly German Artemis Quartet.
Now, she’s back. As leader. Here’s how:
It feels like a life-time ago when I think back on it – Artemis Quartet – the blur of concerts, living out of a suitcase, intensity of rehearsal, complexity of human relations. It stretched me further than possible – at times I was within a hair of breaking – and my musical life and family life flourished and suffered equally.
The addiction of the slow-learn – the satisfaction of the greatest repertoire on earth, the thrill of live performance and warm internal glow of a life somehow enhanced, somehow made greater through the work – these things cannot be achieved in any other musical form. Or that’s what quartet musicians believe, for what its worth.
In Oregon – yes the Oregon that you read about – anarchists in Portland, fires lapping at our toes – life feels calm, steady and secure. There is but one full-time quartet in all of Oregon – in many ways, Oregon feels (as a transplant from the Midwest) like a huge forest dotted with mountains and wild ocean, idilic small towns, where every other shop is a bakery and farmers markets line Main Street twice a week. And people make a living from the land – lumber, farming, grapes, fishing, skiing, rock-climbing and marine biology. As a musician, I feel like a rare and valued breed – a specimen from the past, where skills were learned from master to apprentice – looked at quizzically and yet with care and interest.
And so it was with great surprise, followed closely by a keen interest, that the one quartet in this fine and unique state was searching for a first violinist. What followed – the repertoire learned, audition process, trial concert and meetings – these all felt familiar to me. I know how to play that, do this.
And as I got to know more about this quartet – actually a 501c3 non profit organization – it seemed perfect for me, for my family, and for the world we live in now. It’s different from any group I have been a member of – there is a monthly board meeting and artistic planning meetings, there is an executive director, and a strong fan base. The Delgani Quartet has 4 of its own series, several camps, seminars, educational programs, and an automatic monthly income. Despite the havoc that Covid has wreaked on many an artist and organization (even the mighty Artemis has stumbled under the weight of this terrible pandemic), the Delgani was resilient and creative during Covid – continuing its performances and its solid and growing financial status.
The difficulties of quartet life – the travel, hotels, erratic and unstable income – these are not a part of my future. A perfect number of concerts (around 25) per year, great repertoire, and my head on my own pillow every night. Colleagues who care about social issues, who are rock climbers and have close relationships with their loyal audience members – this is something different, something wonderful and something lovely. It’s music for what music means to me – it’s community, digging deep into the place you live, and in the end, it’s about being caretakers of the most magical, fulfilling and challenging music a person can hope to get to know.