Tuesday, October 22, 2002

String quartet loses prized cellist
Marina Hoover forced to choose family over work

Tamara Bernstein,
National Post,

Tuesday, October 22, 2002

The St. Lawrence String Quartet has performed frequently in Vancouver -- first as a frisky young group based in Toronto, now as a group of international stature, famed for its fiery, risk-all performances and its unshakeable musical integrity. But when the quartet walks on to the stage of the Vancouver Playhouse tonight, audiences will see a new face.

After a year of trying to combine marriage and motherhood with the St. Lawrence's gruelling tour schedule, Marina Hoover, the group's founding cellist, left at the end of August...

In a field where women were long excluded, and where they're still vastly outnumbered, Hoover's resignation is something of a setback for gender equality.

"If anyone could have done it [balanced career and family], Marina could have," [remaining female quartet member Lesley] Robertson said ruefully from her office in California's Stanford University, where the SLSQ is Ensemble in Residence.

You can't say the Edmonton-born cellist, who has an iron will and constitution, didn't try. She engaged a substitute for only two tours during her pregnancy. She was back on stage -- with a cracked tailbone -- three weeks after giving birth to her son, Benjamin, in August, 2000, breastfeeding him during intermission.

But the SLSQ gives about 100 concerts a year, many in far-flung countries. "I took Benjamin on tour for the first year," Hoover said from her new home in suburban Chicago. "When I travelled with other members of the quartet, they were very helpful. But often I was alone: I'd have the baby strapped to my front, the cello [in a hard case] strapped to my back, the stroller and car seat in one hand, and I'd be pulling my suitcase with the other." [ Nice image, breastfeeding Benjamin during intermission. But I'm not sure what this article says. We don't support our professional artists enough to allow them to afford nannies when travelling? Marry a neurologist and expect your career to suffer? Mamma, don't let your daughers grow up to be world-class professional musicians? - JC]

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