On Nov. 5, Franciscan University welcomed virtuoso pianist and acclaimed performer, Eric Genius, to fill the Gentile Gallery with his music. The setting of the evening was calm, for the lights were dim when an audience member entered the room.
The concert began on time at 2 p.m. and opened with Genius introducing himself. “Why am I here?” he asked. “I am here to provoke emotion, to share my story and to remind you that not all hope is lost in your lives.”
Genius then expressed how he has played in every different venue: opera houses, the basements of a support group’s building and even prisons. He explained how performing in prisons has been his most memorable experience. “When I play in prisons, I see those men who believe that nothing can change how they feel, men who think that all hope is lost … and then, I play.”
Genius shared the story of a man who had walked into one of his prison performances, who had been a Satanist from a very young age. “He had been hurt and he was angry,” said Genius. “He said, ‘…my entire family is dead, and I do not cry. Why… why do I not cry?’ The moment I played, this man began to bawl. It is moments like these that keep me going.”
When Genius played, he evoked a very emotional response. The students were inching forward in their seats, and one woman was crying as a friend held her. The emotions were high in the room, just as Genius had predicted.
Between each song, he would explain the importance of it. With one song, he said, “We all have a concept of what music is in our culture … but never in our history have we had such an exposure.”
Genius’s mission was to expose current culture to the beauty of music and with the reactions in the room and after the event, it was obvious that he succeeded.
“I thought it was lovely,” freshman Clement Harrold said, agreeing that the music made him feel emotions that he was not ready to feel. Harrold further reflected, “I also enjoyed how (Genius did not act like) ‘this is my program, please pull money out of your pockets and support it,’ but how he was a realist, sharing stories about his personal life struggle and how music has helped him survive.”