If you knew Lindsey Stirling as a youngster, you knew her as that girl with the violin.
“I’ve played since I was 6 years old, and I was very much like ‘I’m Lindsey, and I play the violin!’ That was a huge part of my identity growing up,” she said. “I did a lot of other things, like I also kind of played soccer and I kind of did cross country, but violin was like, ‘Oh, that’s what Lindsey does.'”
It wasn’t until she paired her musical skills with dance that she created the spectacle bringing her to Chicago’s Huntington Bank Pavilion next week with her “Artemis Tour.”
“My parents played a lot of classical music in our home, so I was just so exposed to it,” she recalled. “I remember I thought the first-chair violinist must just be the biggest star because they were the ones that would get all the solos — they would tune the orchestra. So in my mind, they were the diva of the orchestra.”
Known for her bright, spirited performances, Stirling continues to stun audiences with her groundbreaking mix of classical violin and electronic music arrangements she seamlessly pairs with tightly choreographed dance numbers. For Stirling, it was a matter of building an expressive showpiece to draw in audiences.
“I wanted to make my performance style engaging,” she said. “I felt very boring standing there and trying to play this music I had written. It’s so very exciting, and my performance style did not match the music style, so I was like, well, I gotta find a way to do this.”
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So she taught herself to dance. Noting that she was “quite awkward and kind of gangly,” Stirling learned to build a performance style that has suited her well. Now 34, that awkward kid has been combining music and dance for global audiences for more than a decade, entertaining fans with world tours, appearances on “America’s Got Talent” and “Dancing with the Stars” and collaborations with artists such as Amy Lee (of Evanescence), Owl City and Pentatonix.
For Stirling, variety is all part of the creative process.
Her latest album “Artemis” was released in fall of 2019, but because of the COVID-19 pandemic, touring was postponed for a year. For some artists, that’s a long stretch of time during which material can start to feel stale. As Stirling said, you move on and start to feel different things.
But “Artemis” is a different story for her. It’s a multilayered story, actually, that goes along with a comic book she wrote about Artemis, the goddess of the moon, and a world that’s losing its light. Stirling said she and her team finished the six-book series just before starting the tour a few weeks ago. Using music videos she created during the lockdowns, she’s presenting a fully fleshed-out spectacle onstage. There will be music, dancing and maybe even a battle or two. (OK, spoiler: There’s definitely a battle.)
“My real big fans, they know all of this story and they know the characters, and I’m finally displaying them on stage,” she said. “It really gives a lot more color and depth and vibrance and showmanship to the show than it would have if I brought it on tour right after the album was done, because I didn’t quite have the full grasp on everything yet. But I do now.”