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