Learning from a master violinist

MARQUETTE – Beethoven, Chopin and Handel are moving over this week inside the Kaufman Auditorium, making way for the likes of Zepplin, Kravitz and McCartney.

That’s because world-renowned violinist Mark Wood and his musical education program, Electrify Your Strings! will be in Marquette Thursday, offering a musical experience to Marquette students and a high voltage rock concert to area residents.

“The experience that we have with them, from the first few moments to the end of the concert, it’s about accessing that energy as a musician, a performer and as a person, and it’s life-changing,” Wood said of the group’s time with students. “It’s that powerful.”

Wood takes Electrify Your Strings! across the country every year, hitting upwards of 60 schools annually, performing for students and helping to open their eyes to a whole different understanding of what an orchestra can really sound like.

“In an educational setting, there was something called an orchestra back in the 1800s and there was a composer named Beethoven,” Wood said. “We can teach them that way, or we can teach them on their terms.”

Wood said with smart phones and technology surrounding kids everyday, connecting music with technology is a way to communicate the importance of playing music to young people.

“Just … days ago, the New York Times said the majority of the most successful visionaries – leaders of the world – play a musical instrument,” Wood said.

Wood has become famous in his own right for playing the electric violin and as one of the founding members of the popular Trans Siberian Orchestra, which adds a rock leaning to classical music. He is also the inventor of the first solid body electric violin, one of which will be raffled off during Thursday’s 7 p.m. concert inside Kaufmann Auditorium in Marquette.

Wood said part of Electrify Your Strings! is to help raise funds for local music programs.

“Unfortunately, we live in a capitalistic world where the schools can barely provide books,” Wood said. “Music programs are always last on the list. They buy baseball bats before they buy violins. I want to change that. I want to get music on the level of sports and activities.”

Concert tickets will be available at the door: $5 for adults, $3 for students, $12 for families.

Raffle tickets for the five-string Viper electric violin will be $5 each or three for $10.

Jackie Stark can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 242.