For twenty years, Joan Jeanrenaud was the cellist with the San Francisco based, avant-garde Kronos Quartet. She and Kronos toured the world, working with and playing music composed by artists as diverse as Steve Reich, John Zorn and Frank Zappa.
But in 1998, Jeanrenaud was forced to step away from Kronos and its grueling schedule when she was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis. It was a painful decision and led to a new direction in life that the cellist had never imagined.
This past weekend, Jeanrenaud performed live with the Kronos Quartet, at UC Berkeley's Cal Performances, for the first time since she left the group eleven years ago. In the days leading up to the performance, KQED's Health Dialogues spoke with Jeanrenaud about what her life has been like since she was diagnosed with MS.
As it turns out, it hasn't been a very boring eleven years. Since leaving Kronos, Jeanrenaud has focused more on improvisation and composition. In 2008, she earned her first solo Grammy nomination for her album, Strange Toys. Her follow-up is due out in early 2010. Jeanrenaud has already released an animated video for one of the tracks, perhaps a first in the classical music world.
Meanwhile, Jeanrenaud treats her MS with physical therapy and lifestyle guidance from a Tibetan doctor. From the beginning, she decided to avoid traditional western medicine. Instead, she struck a balance between creative progress and physical decline, which seems to be working just fine.