New group breaks form with classical music performance

Oct 11, 2018

Robert Nordling is the artistic director of the newly formed Shoreline Music Society.
Credit Elliot Mandel

On Friday night in Manistee, the Shoreline Music Society will host its inaugural performance at the Ramsdell Regional Center for the Arts. The group will perform pieces from Richard Wagner and Franz Schubert, but the concert will be different from what you might expect.


"The Shoreline Music Society transforms a concert experience into a conversation among friends,” says Robert Nordling, the artistic director of the society.

He says concert halls can be pretentious and intimidating if you’re not used to them.

“How can we ... sort of step aside from this typical ‘temple’ mentality of a concert hall, where you sit quietly please, listen carefully ... and go home?" Nordling asks. "How can we turn that into much more of a partnership?” 

Instead of formally-dressed musicians up on stage, they’ll be performing in regular clothes and will be seated very close to audience members. And instead of little to no interaction between the performers and audience, the audience will have a chance to participate.

“And we’ll talk a little bit with them – not only at them, but with them – about what we’re about to do as audience and as players,” says Nordling.

The group will perform Wagner’s “Siegfried Idyll” and Schubert’s “Symphony No. 5.” Nordling says the two were very different composers. Franz Schubert wrote his symphony when he was 19 years old as a student exercise. Richard Wagner wrote his piece as a Christmas present to his wife upon the birth of their child.

“But the thing that binds these two pieces together, and I’m going to give away our spoiler alert," he says, "neither of these pieces was ever intended for public hearing.”

You can hear the Shoreline Music Society perform Wagner’s "Siegfried Idyll" and Schubert’s "Symphony No. 5" Friday night at the Ramsdell Regional Center for the Arts. The event starts at 5 p.m.