David Finckel has spent his entire life as a cellist, and plays his instrument constantly – but he avoids the routines that he’s seen colleagues develop. “I try almost without fail to never do anything habitually,” he says. “It scares me, the idea of habit.” Instead, he tries to be ready to adapt to the needs of the moment.

Finckel — who was the long-time cellist with the Emerson String Quartet — and his wife, pianist Wu Han, have been at the center of the chamber music world for decades, as players and administrators. They’re co-artistic directors of both Music @ Menlo and the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center. But he says he doesn’t believe in any set ‘warmup routine.’ “I find that being on stage, and being comfortable on stage involves a lot of adaptability. I’ve watched colleagues… make themselves miserable over years by becoming more dependent on routines, and certain conditions: lighting, temperature, instrument adjustment, chair. I’ve learned that’s not the right road to go down for me.”

David Finckel doesn’t need any convincing to play, though. “I  personally like to keep my fingers moving, but that’s also because I love playing the cello. I love the way it feels… For me it’s a sensuous experience, and it’s also kind of a toy, like a game….I love having it in my hands, I’m looking at it sitting there in the case, and I’m looking so much forward to getting it out and getting my hands on it.