Anthea Kreston is back, with another string quartet

Anthea Kreston is back, with another string quartet


norman lebrecht

August 16, 2021

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.

As pressures mounted, Anthea eventually called it quits and took her family home. The Artemis collapsed soon after.

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.



  • Alexander says:

    glad to hear 😉

  • guglhupf says:

    Lovely that she is so enthusiastic. I must say I find it incredibly dispiriting that in the entire state of Oregon there is only one professional string quartet.

    • Bone says:

      Oregon shows up unfavorably in many media portraits, but despite the urban unrest it is mostly a very rural area. Not sure how many chamber music enthusiasts clamor for string quartets, but it is good to know that any art music is going on in America these days.

      • Andy says:

        “Urban unrest”? That’s what Oregon brings to mind for you? How sad. For a relatively sparsely populated state, Oregon offers a tremendous number of extraordinary arts organizations and festivals.

    • Mr. Knowitall says:

      The entire state of Oregon has roughly half the population of London. Portland, with fewer than 700,000 residents, is its only city of any size and it is so near the northern border than it might as well be in Washington.

    • The University of Oregon, for example, has a resident faculty String Quartet, so I suspect this is a matter of semantics

    • There has been for a long time a resident String Quartet comprised of U of Oregon faculty so this probably is a matter of semantics

    • The University of Oregon has a resident faculty String Quartet. I think this is a matter of semantics

    • William of Urbana says:

      There is an upside. That situation gave the Delgani Quartet room to thrive, and become a model of programming innovation, whose members are invited around the country to speak on that subject.

  • Carlos Solare says:

    This has got to be a certifiedly outlier-free, exceedingly American ensemble!

  • BRUCEB says:

    This sounds lovely. I’m glad to hear she’s doing well.

  • Augustine says:

    I did a google search looking for the Delgani Quartet, found their website, and was asked for a password to enter. Not very inviting. I don’t do Facebook, etc…

  • Anthea Kreston says:

    Hi! Thanks for checking – here is the link….

  • HugoPreuss says:

    What is an “exceedingly German … Quartet”? I am reasonably sure that this is not meant as a compliment. But what is it? What is “exceedingly German”?

  • kaa12840 says:

    I just logged onto their website;
    no password needed.
    Sounds idyllic, glad they have a good budget (and obviously great manager) they should keep their business manager’s name secret

    • V. Lind says:

      Looks like a good group and, what-ho, it’s “diverse.” Any group that includes a Brazilian is off to a good start in my eyes. Keep us posted, Andrea, especially if you record! And good luck.

  • Diddy says:

    Oh Anthea, how perfectly wonderful! I look forward to all your up coming antics with the quartet. Hugs and kisses!

  • Anthony Sayer says:

    Just a question – no agenda – How come the Artemis Quartet exploded soon after Andrea came on board? Did they approve of her very public posts, exposing their off-stage life? Andrea is clearly a highly competent musician who doubtless deserves a top flight career, but does everyone in her entourage approve of this laying bare of their day-to-day lives?

    As I said, it’s just a question. I don’t do social media, I don’t have a smartphone and thus don’t always feel at ease with this informational incontinence that now pervades so many areas of our waking existence.

    • Sue Sonata Form says:

      I read most of those entries at the time and they were deeply personal and did not imply any input – or take away privacy – from any other member of the Quartet.

      I suspect the issues ran much deeper than this. When there are egos involved tension can be ramped up another notch.

    • Phil D says:

      It doesn’t appear that “the Artemis Quartet exploded soon after Andrea came on board.”

      From Wikipedia, so, perhaps not the most reliable of sites:

      In 2016, Anthea Kreston joined as the group’s new second violinist and toured with the quartet until 2019. In April 2019, violinist Suyoen Kim and cellist Harriet Krijgh joined the ensemble. In May 2021, the quartet announced a hiatus in its activities, with the intention to regroup in the future.

      • V. Lind says:

        Hardly the only artistic entity that found it impractical to carry on as usual after the pandemic began to bite.

  • “Colleagues who care about social issues…and have close relationships with their loyal audience members – this is something different”

    Ouch. 😀

  • Marg says:

    Anthea what wonderful news!! Im so happy for you as I know you love ensemble playing and to sleep in your own bed every night instead of always on the road will be great for you and the whole family. Im impressed they have managed to survive Covid so well. Look forward to hearing more as time goes on.

  • ChiLynne says:

    Very happy for you, Anthea! Hope some touring will be in the offing.