Back Stage with the Emerson Quartet

By Miles Cohen on October 14, 2008

PCMS patrons often ask me this very question: "Tell me Miles...what was it like backstage during last night's concert?"  I can understand the curiosity!  While audience members get to see the world's top artists performing on our series, they are often equally interested in the personalities behind those stellar performances.

Many of our artists participate in talks, cd signings, and other events, but very few people get the chance to see what happens backstage directly before or after a performance.  In an effort to give our patrons a small taste of that experience, and to get to "know" a bit more about what goes on behind the scenes at PCMS, I'll post regulary blog entries on this topic.  I hope you enjoy!

A Running Joke with the Emersons

I have a running joke with the Emerson Quartet that goes back to one fateful night in 2003.  It was a December evening, and the East Coast was under siege by one of those nasty ice/sleet storms that make driving a slow and arduous experience.   The Emersons were scheduled to perform a concert of Hadyn, Mendelssohn, and Debussy.  As you might expect, the members of the quartet were all having major trouble getting down to Philadelphia from NY, partly because of the weather and partly because they left too late in the afternoon (they admit it!). One by one they came straggling in, each arrival a little bit closer to our impending 8pm start time.  But Larry (Lawrence Dutton, viola) never quite made it. So Philip Maneval and I had to go on stage and tell our faithful audience that the ensemble would not be performing on that particular evening (after all - what can you do with 2 violins and a cello?!).

So naturally, as is our tradition since 2003, Larry called me yesterday to tell me he is stuck in a snow storm (hah!), despite the 75 degree weather.  Then the situation got retold and discussed backstage before the concert - we all laugh now, but I can assure you nobody was laughing that December evening!   We even kid that PCMS no longer invites the Emersons during winter months (just to be on the safe side).

Prior to last night's concert the Emersons were (as always) a model of calm, cool, and collected.  They are so smooth and in-control backstage that it makes my job easy.  The only disappointment for us is that the Emerson Quartet members always drive home to New York after each concert, so there is little chance to chat or grab a late night meal in Chinatown.  However, luckily for PCMS patrons, they return again in the spring on April 1, 2009 at the Seaport Museum!

My thanks go out to the PCMS patrons in attendance last night who gave me such a warm welcome and helped make our opening night a huge success - both onstage and backstage!