Up until this point, Michael Shirtz has been best known to Lakeside Chautauqua as a jazz musician, conductor, pianist, vocalist, and overall stage presence. But as Lakeside’s new Senior V.P. of Programming, Shirtz now has the chance to showcase his experience and passion for education, business, and wellness. In his position since October, Shirtz has been leading Lakeside Chautauqua in enhancing various areas of programming in arts and entertainment, education, religion and recreation. In many ways Shirtz’s background as a professor, dean, and his active work as a producer, conductor, and performer have prepared him for this position.
“This position allows me to share further my passion as an artist and educator, but it’s more about giving people opportunities to explore new experiences in the arts, providing education for ages 1-100, finding new ways to investigate faith, and discovering healing and personal strength through wellness and recreation.”
In his performances, Shirtz often shares about the trials he has faced – namely a car accident that prevented him from performing for 11 years, a stroke he suffered right before a performance, and his depression. But he credits his Lakeside Chautauqua experience for aiding in his healing.
“My faith has helped me through everything, but finding wellness both physically and mentally is very important to me,”he said. “and so, I am very passionate about every aspect of programming at Lakeside.”
Shirtz speaks about his team with enthusiasm as they develop new programs with focus on youth and children’s programming, ushering in a new era of the Lakeside Symphony Orchestra, and introducing performing arts initiatives.
“I had visited Lakeside once nearly 20 years ago when I was performing with a group, and we came to Hoover Auditorium,”said Shirtz. “I thought it was a unique place, but didn’t become acquainted with it until I was invited to serve on the music staff.”
Shirtz started writing music, performing and conducting for Lakeside in different capacities since 2013 when he became the Religious Life music coordinator and director of the Chautauqua choral programs.
“Over time, Lakeside just became a very important place for both my wife and me,”he said. “We would vacation here, and from a spiritual perspective, we began to feel a sense of renewal from all the different programs in the summer.”
While serving as a Senior V.P. at Lakeside, Shirtz continues his work as a performer, conductor, and musical director, affiliation with the Jazz Education Network, and the Jazz @ 8 Series.
(Photo by Brenda Knipp 2017: Shirtz playing in show at Hoover Auditorium, Lakeside, OH)