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December 1   -   Norman Lebrecht - Slipped disc

What to do in Germany when you turn up in unmatched shoes…

The weekly tour-whirl diary of Anthea Kreston, American violinist in the Berlin-based Artemis Quartet: As I wait for my train to Bremen, in the midst of a heavy 12 days of touring, I am reflecting on my transition into this new country, this new life, this new work. Now we have been here for 10 months, and what was once a constant feeling of bewilderment has transformed, in fits and starts, into a new sensation. Not comfort, not yet, but I feel my stride on these wide, cold sidewalks is longer, more confident, my shoulders sit back on the bone more, my head is up and I can take in the world, instead of it taking me in. Our new repertoire is well-in-hand – I love our take on Haydn – strong, straight-forward, but with moments of surprising flexibility and fragility. Each member takes their place on the stage, four strong personalities, but eager to inspire one another, allow one another to take flight. Our new series in Munich, in the glorious Prince Regent Theater (a 1,100 seat hall, with a wide generous arch of seats, delicately painted ceiling, and golden columns festooned with statuary) came off with a bang, with a full hall and great review. The following night, in Berlin, we were honored with the German Record Critics’ Award “Preis der Deutschen Schallplattenkritik”, an award given solely by music critics, writers, editors and musicologists, which was delivered on-stage after intermission. Following the concert (and champagne reception) I headed over to the Gendarmenmarkt, where old friends of mine from St Paul Chamber Orchestra had just finished a concert of their own, and who had already ordered a meal for me, waiting luke-warm on a plate amongst the laughter and camaraderie of this incredible group of musicians. By the time I got home, my window of my brief Berlin stay had dwindled into a few short hours. I took the sleep that I could, woke early to repack and make breakfast for the family before heading to Frankfurt for the next leg of the tour. On my arrival at my hotel, I couldn’t help but laugh as I took off my “pair” of shoes – one boot and one sneaker. There went my dream of a little nap in the hotel, as I ran quickly to buy a pair of shoes which would get me through the next 4 days. I am not sure which is more disturbing (funny?) – what my state of mind must have been when I put them on, or the fact that it took me 6 hours to notice. As I open to my place here, I have enjoyed reaching out and hearing of others’ transitions – whether new or old. In speaking with the inspiring and magical cellist Gary Hoffman, who is a colleague and master teacher at La Chapelle de Musique Reine Elizabeth in Brussels, I was struck by his beautiful reflections, which I will quote below. “Hi Anthea, I’ve been living In Paris for 26 years. I’m still Canadian/American but no doubt I see many things from a very different perspective after all this time in Europe. The transition from what it was to what it is now has happened very naturally. Of course music is based very much on what we know and feel and what we do. But after all this time, and it is something I repeat often to young musicians, my students and others, I’ve come to understand how much it has to do with what one is. And that has a great deal to do with what one has lived, the richness of personal experiences, of seeing the world in other ways, in short, the broadening of horizons and encompassing a larger scope of view. This probably more than anything has influenced my musical and, no doubt, personal development.” Gary Hoffman


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