in David’s words…
This tour was, on all accounts, one of the most enjoyable and successful of our career. We were cared for with great personal attention and foresight in every country; we played to full, enthusiastic houses; we met extraordinary people of different generations who keep classical music coming to their cities; we played in distinguished concert halls with fascinating histories; we learned about historic musical organizations which have brought the most important international artists for repeated visits, and have organized creative festivals, hosted competitions, and commissioned contemporary works.
At the same time, I also recognized that South America, or at least what I saw of it, is a region whose potential for chamber music is not yet realized. The audiences loved our performances and cheered wildly; yet, we were often the only string quartet or even chamber ensemble on a whole year’s series. We also learned that unlike North America or Europe, such thing as a quartet that can exist solely on quartet playing does not exist; all members of established ensembles find their major means of support from orchestra playing, and there is not much touring within countries or to neighboring countries. More support for chamber music series in a variety of places, and for chamber musicians themselves, is definitely needed. The audiences we played for should not have to wait for expensive stars like the Emerson to come to hear quality chamber music performances.
My personal dream, as I leave Buenos Aires, would be to return sometime soon to bring a series of connected programs to the major cities, which would not only highlight the performers but generate high interest in the music itself, and demonstrate the sustaining power of the chamber music genre. Perhaps festivals could be created where chamber music would be the focus; perhaps concert societies concentrating solely on chamber music would be helpful. I would be very interested to do some teaching as well, and to connect (as we did only briefly) with the many young musicians who came to our concerts. We also did not get a sense of what is happening in contemporary music in the various countries.
I’m sure I speak for my colleagues in the quartet as well when I say that I would love to become more involved in music in South America, as I know Wu Han will. I hope the invitation to return will come soon, as South America has now become as important and exciting a place for me to perform as any other.