The power and the magic of an unencumbered musical moment – SlippediscSlippedisc

norman lebrecht

November 06, 2022

Violinist Anthea Kreston, who used to write a slippedisc.com diary from inside the Artemis Quartet, found herself in Charleston this weekend, in the midst of a magical moment.

Sometimes, you just have a moment when you realize what it’s all about. Why music – why can’t anything else in the world replace the obsession, the satisfaction, the craving. It’s a balmy, glorious week here in Charleston, South Carolina, where I am playing chamber music with old friends at Chamber Music Charleston. Concert tomorrow – evening off tonight – and I decided for a leisurely stroll by the historic waterfront before heading to one of my favorite restaurants for an exotic, southern, calorie-filled something-or-other.

I took my embroidery with me, and found a secluded spot way at the tippy-end of a wooden dock. It was sunset, and I looked up to notice a gentleman dressed in official religious garb being greeted (clearly for the first time) by a white-tuxedoed man. Then a bride in cream, followed by a mother, a friend, and grandmother making her wobbly way across the planks with her rolling walker, all in glittery finery.

A moment later, the groom welcomes us all (myself, 4 fishermen, and a couple of vaguely touristy-types) to their wedding. Mother of the bride asks if anyone is willing to take photos and text them to her, and as I see the fishermen are not in the right frame of mind, and the tourists are slowly backing up – it’s up to me, and I become today’s wedding photographer.

There was a lot of jollity here – full-teeth laughing, serious warmth and respect. As I made my way around, using a combination of still shots and video, the bride began to sing. Closing her eyes, she swayed back, her partner gripping her on both forearms as she moved and raised her voice louder and louder. It was at this moment, when music comes from somewhere deep inside, somewhere “other”, that our throats tighten, our breathing becomes shallow, and our vision is blurred. It is a language that travels directly from heart to heart – and as her head tilted back, she began to cry as she sang, and collapsed, her partner supporting her, allowing her to be. She began to sing in tongues, or was it some language I had never heard before? And as she came back into her own, her small family gathered around, tightening the circle, holding on to one another.

I sometimes wonder what we are aiming for in classical music – why it’s almost impossible to allow ourselves to disappear into it, to let it engulf us. Tonight I felt the power and magic of what unencumbered music can be – how it can tie us together. And I feel so fortunate


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