VC WEB BLOG | Anthea Kreston - ‘My Road to the Artemis String Quartet’ [BLOG]


The Berlin-based Artemis String Quartet last week announced the appointment of new second violinist, Anthea Kreston - following the passing of long-term violist Friedemann Weigle in July last year.

In a VC-exclusive blog, Anthea talks us through how this new life-changing career opportunity came to be.

“In October, a full two months after the Artemis String Quartet announced that it was opening auditions to the world - searching for a fourth member - I was in South Carolina on tour with my Trio, the Amelia Piano Trio.  The news of why they were searching was tragic - the loss of a member to suicide - and the world mourned and will continue to mourn with them. The choice to have an open call for submissions is highly unusual. Normally, a quartet replacement is handled behind closed doors - friends, colleagues, whispered recommendations.

I brought up the topic casually - walking around a leafy college quad - what did Jason think about it?  Jason, my partner in every way for the past 20 years - cellist in the trio, teaching and traveling partner, husband. Could this opportunity even be something worth poking a stick at?  Could I possibly be considered for the position?  Firstly, they had certainly, in these two months, found someone or at least had narrowed their search to a few select possibilities.  Secondly - they have always, in their 20+ years together, had a three men/one woman ratio.  To change that to 2/2? Thirdly - an American?  Could this even be a possibility? 

Now - my own improbability. I have not played in a string quartet for 15 years. 6 years ago, our trio decided to go into semi-maternity leave all together to allow Jason and I to have our two wonderful daughters - and raise them in a normal, small-town atmosphere. We left our university positions in Connecticut and moved to rural Oregon. Would the quartet, who I met 20 years ago at Juilliard, even remember me?  And if so - would that count for or against me?

The most incredible thing to me - in this whole incredible story - is the unwavering belief that Jason has in me. It is strong, without reserve - calm and secure. While walking and walking around that quad - and we did that for hours that fall day - talking about every possible ramification and detail - the only thing that Jason knew for certain was that if I began this process, our family - with our adorable 4&6 year old daughters - would be moving to Berlin. I thought the possibility was 1 in 1,000.  He knew it was 100%. 

What followed was a series of start-and-stop events. I facebooked Ecki, the cellist. I heard back three weeks later. His questions were along the lines of: Where is Oregon? Yes I remember you. Two weeks passed. The next messages came closer together. We remember that you are strong, nice, and a memorable performer. All of a sudden my percentage moved to 1 in 500.  Then, while on tour in Charleston, a request for a skype talk.

I was floored. Totally floored. We spoke - we remembered the handful of times we had met - we talked about Jason and my family. Then - the question - why don't you just submit a formal application?  They could possibly consider me.

Now - the first big obstacle. The application was to include live footage of the applicant with a string group - quartet to sextet. I had not played in a quartet in 15 years, was on tour by myself, and then went straight to a trio tour immediately after. I suggested that I put something together - a viola sonata?? The cringe and sigh on skype said it all. Back to 1 in 1000.  I had known the quartet as a violist - that, I thought, was my strongest play. They had opened to either violin or viola, but wouldn't I shine more as a violist?  I am a violinist by training, but have played Viola as well since age 9.

So - two weeks later I booked a hall (it was only available 7:45-9:30 AM the morning of a trio concert), asked a friend to play Brahms and Schubert with me, asked a friend to video, a student to turn pages, and put on a dress and some makeup. I forgot to fix my hair. And then we sent it in - with three piano trio videos from two years ago to bulk up the application.

Now it is December. I don't hear anything for 3 weeks, except for a cursory "Thank you for your application" email on December 13.  Jason and I don't mention it, of course it was the longest shot in the world. The longest.

Then - a request for a skype meeting - right before Christmas. And an emailed question - would I consider playing violin instead of viola?  Are you kidding?  I would play the flugelhorn with my nose if they asked!  My percentage has risen.

The meeting - they loved the video - and especially the violin portion. Book a flight, be here in two weeks, stay a week, learn these 8 quartets. I am one of 8 finalists. I now have a 12.5% chance.

The rest is the very beginning of history. We leave permanently all together for Berlin February 8.  Jason wasn't surprised in the least.

- Andrea”

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