Last night, I had the distinct pleasure to attend a program performed by my colleague and friend Michael Linert. Michael is a true renaissance man who works as performer, a scholar, a composer, and an educator. I first met Michael when he was my supervisor at the Fairview Violin Project and I assisted him in the classroom. I later came to learn that he, like me, was not a violinist by trade but a cellist with a passion for string education. While he was teaching violin and completing his masters of education, I also saw him perform opera. Michael sang the countertenor role of Arsamene in the 2012-13 IU Opera Season production of Handel’s Xerxes. Truly, he is a very talented individual!
Micheal’s concert was titled “Veiled” and this title served as the theme of the evening’s program. Some of my favorite selections included movements of Bach’s Suite No. 1 in G Major (performed on baroque cello), his arrangement of the John Dowland Flow My Tears (played and sung by Michael), and some of his own compositions. Besides playing great repertoire, Michael also took time during the program to address the audience. He shared many meaningful anecdotes, interesting historical tidbits, and poetry to prelude the pieces. He had all of his translated text for the songs memorized. Each stage of the program was engaging and entertaining.
After the last piece, he unveiled his final prop: a sign that said “what did you expect? J”. This is the question I have been meditating on for a long time. What do audiences expect? Do the majority of concert goers want large, multi-movement works without introduction? Or do people prefer a musician to also practice the art of rhetoric from the stage? Is it even possible to program effectively for everyone’s individual tastes? How can musicians effectively give an audience what they want?
So I asked myself, “what did I expect?” I’m not sure that I had any expectation but what I received was one of the best concerts I have ever seen. Michael has a great talent for making things accessible to many different audience members. His cello playing, singing, and speech show great conviction and honesty. His sense of humor puts people at ease and allows them to enjoy the music.
I believe that concerts such as “Veiled” demonstrate that musicians can perform their music to a larger audience without having to compromise their artistic integrity. If you are interested in exploring new concert formats and programs, contact Michael or me for more information!