Member of Chicago Symphony Orchestra Connects with MCLA Fine and Performing Arts Department for Practice Space

July 29, 2022

Earlier this week MCLA hosted Mark Shuldiner — a keyboardist in the
Chicago Symphony Orchestra since 2013Man Playing Piano — so that he could practice for his concerto at Staunton Music Festival. Shuldiner and his financé Molly Netter came to North Adams for her performance in the Bang on a Can Festival at MASS MoCA. 

While checking into their hotel, the couple quickly realized Shuldiner’s eight-foot harpsichord would not fit in the elevator to the fifth floor. This led Shuldiner to search for other performance spaces such as a church, or in this instance, the Church Street Center MCLA via a cold-call email. 

“MCLA was incredibly generous for giving me a room for the instrument and another piano to work on,” Shuldiner said. “It was a very welcoming synergy that I would have never expected. It’s kind of like the universal artistic community – we all want to look out for each other.”

Fine and Performing Arts Professor Michael Dilthey quickly connected with Shuldiner and the musician was on his way to practicing his harpsichord in the quiet Church Street Center. 

Each year MCLA’s Fine and Performing Arts Department loans instruments and music stands to the Bang on a Can Festival and has maintained a good relationship with the museum. 

Dilthey talked about the impact that the pandemic had on the performing arts world.

“Getting back into performing arts is so huge for us,” Dilthey said. “For performing musicians, it’s been so hard, so, anything we can do to spring that back to life is hugely important. We have to continue to help the performing arts perform until we get back to a good place.”

Netter, a soprano, performed during the opening show during Bang on a Can on July 28. After the festival, the couple head to Tanglewood for another one of her performances. Thereafter they travel to Virginia for Shuldiner’s 16th year performing in the Staunton Music Festival. 

Shuldiner spoke about how the couple has taken the year to analyze their professions and how the hard work sometimes “divides the goals of one’s artistry, but engaging with institutions that align with the musicians’ values is what matters.”

“The people are what bring the institutions together. [North Adams] seems like a very well-connected community,” Shuldiner said. 

Netter and Shuldiner are graduates of Oberlin Conservatory and reside in Illinois. 

“All of these connections are made off of social media and it’s nice to go places and meet wonderful people like Michael,” Netter said.