This is a rant from an aspiring violinist. I’m putting my head on the guillotine block to say what I have wanted to say for a long time.
YouTube has brought many different performers to light. Some of them are legitimately talented. Others, who are not talented, still manage to find success through good marketing and image. One violinist, Lindsey Stirling, has found widespread popularity through YouTube, and is considered the epitome of “pop violin.”
I first heard Lindsey Stirling on America’s Got Talent. It immediately struck me that she is a visual performer, rather than a good violinist. Her technique and intonation are lacking, and as Piers Morgan said, one had to be a top notch world-class violinist to pull off playing the violin well with complicated dance movements.
Although I have to hand it to her — she certainly found a niche to make her own, and generated success from it — anyone who claims that Lindsey Stirling is a great violinist is ignorant about the potential of the violin. Lindsey Stirling is NOT a great violinist. She is not even remotely a good violinist. She is a show-woman, which is not a bad thing — certain artists, such as Britney Speares, base their performances on dance and show more than the music itself. Speares is known to lip sync her performances to focus on dance and hide her poor vocals, and Stirling reportedly did the same thing in Germany.
Then why does she sound decent in her music videos? you might ask. The answer is easy — computers. These days the sheer amount of programs used to manipulate sound have multiplied, and have gotten more sophisticated. A bad singer can sound good, a poor violinist — with the right reverb and pitch correction — can sound accomplished and smooth. That is not a real violinist playing music to you, it is a computer manipulating her sound. This is why there is a stark difference of quality when Stirling “plays” in her YouTube music videos and in her live performances. People have noted how awful her intonation and technique are when they hear her live. This is the reason she gave a cringe-worthy performance on America’s Got Talent and was buzzed off.
For a bona fide violin goddess who knows her chops, check out Lucia Micarelli (video above: Sibelius violin concerto seguing to a mind-blowing cover of Led Zeppelin’s Kashmir). I do not know why Lucia Micarelli is not a household name. She toured with Josh Groban back in the day, and in my opinion, completely upstaged him. She also performed with the TransSiberian Orchestra, studied with Pinchas Zukerman at Juilliard (one of the world’s leading music conservatories) before experimenting with jazz. She made a living in New York playing gigs in clubs — a difficult living that one can only accomplish with raw talent and drive. But credentials don’t speak for themselves — her tone is flawless, her technique amazing, her showmanship spectacular. THIS is a violinist worth listening to and respecting, and the sound you hear from her instrument is her ACTUAL sound: complete, pure, unmodified.
For those of you who continue to insist that Stirling is a gifted musician, come back when you actually know something about the violin. Because saying she can play is completely ignorant.