Lindsey Stirling: Bowing out of the smoke and mirrors

By Tricia Despres

It was nearly two years ago when one of the 21st century’s most innovative stars stopped and took a deep breath for the first time.

Or at least that’s the way it felt to her.

“I was working so hard,” recalls the breathtaking violinist Lindsey Stirling. “I never took breaks, and I never stopped to look around and enjoy the life and career I was leading. It was a grueling time for me as I tried my best to keep up with what was becoming an insane schedule.” And not showing it had become part and parcel of keeping the wind in the sails. “We have so many filters on our lives these days. People want to see others’ lives, and we want to give them a beautiful look at that often messy life. And if I’m honest, I fell into that trap myself.”

So Stirling stopped and began working on herself. She comes to Ravinia for the first time on July 10 with a new attitude, a new perspective, and a new tour alongside two-time Grammy Award–winning rock band Evanescence. “Going out on tour with Evanescence is the perfect pairing for me at this time of my life and career,” says the two-time Billboard Music Award–winning electronic violinist, talking with Ravinia Magazine just ahead of their co-headlining 2018 summer amphitheater tour across North America. “When this all came up and we started talking about pairing up with Evanescence, it was such an obvious yes. It’s such a unique crossover. We actually have a huge overlap in terms of our fan base, but it’s still exciting to think about how many fans might be seeing one of our shows for the first time.”

Once rehearsals began for the new tour, Stirling almost instantaneously realized that it would be quite the experience. “I have never co-headlined with anyone, so I went to an Evanescence show, and it was very different. I think we are definitely going to be looking to take a page out of each other’s books, especially when we see that both ways work,” says Stirling, who is no stranger to crossing performing practices, having finished as the runner-up on Season 25 of ABC’s Dancing with the Stars teamed up with dance pro Mark Ballas. “It will be a different experience for anyone coming to this concert because there will truly be these seamless transitions between rock and electronic and classical. People are going to be blown away.”

Add that to the fact that the tour will be backed by a full orchestra, and it literally gives her a case of the goose bumps. “The orchestra is going to add this amazing layer behind my wooden violin,” says Stirling, who already raises hairs on YouTube, where her audience continues to make her one of the most influential musicians online. “There is a real vibration that you will be able to feel within your soul, especially in an outdoor venue. Physically you will be able to feel it.”

And in case you were wondering, stepping out under the sky doesn’t startle the violinist who made her name on the screen. “There is nothing like playing outside in a gorgeous landscape,” says Stirling. “I’m so excited. I love outdoor venues. Summer is just such a wonderful time when everyone is welcome and accepted. It’s joyous and infused with so much energy. The audience rejuvenates you right along with the fresh air. 

Tapping into and giving back her audience’s energy has been part of the incredible journey since the release of her 2012 self-titled debut album, especially with her young fans. “It’s hard for people to imagine what it’s like being a teenager these days,” says Stirling, who has turned to working as a motivational speaker in her spare time. “With social media, kids are so vulnerable at such a young age now, so I try to use my social media positively. I say things I believe in because my hope is to uplift people.”

And if ever the world needed a little uplifting, it’s now.

“We live in an age of a lot of smoke and mirrors, and people can hide behind those effects,” says Stirling. “This tour has a ton of amazing musicians and a conductor with the dancers and the bands, so I feel like it will be not only an amazing display of so many talented individuals, but also the kind of show where we are all exposed for who we truly are. We are all speaking the same language, even though we are different shapes and different colors and speak different words. It’s an amazing time to be alive.” ▪

Tricia Despres is a Chicago-area freelance entertainment writer whose work has appeared in the Chicago Sun-Times, Taste of Country, and a number of local, regional, and national publications. Follow her on Twitter at @CHIWriter.