Marna Seltzer Director, Princeton University Concerts/Department of Music Concert Office

“Music, uniquely among the arts, is both completely abstract and profoundly emotional. It has no power to represent anything particular or external, but it has a unique power to express inner states or feelings. Music can pierce the heart directly; it needs no mediation.”  

– Oliver Sacks

Like Oliver Sacks, I believe that when people connect with music, it can be life-changing and life-affirming, and my work centers on facilitating as many quality connections as possible to make this happen. Simply put, my job is to bring meaning and joy into every life our organization has the capacity to touch, through the presentation of classical music. I am passionate about chamber music and about creating community, which I believe is the key to all successful presenting – making people feel like they belong. I firmly believe that creativity is a core human characteristic that we all share, regardless of age, background or experience. And everyday I think about how to foster a sense of community amongst our audience, and strive to find ways for people to make a personally relevant connection to all of our presentations.

When I set out to curate a season, I am searching for artists who can connect with the music and connect with an audience on a primal level. Performers who can reach across the stage divide and grab the audience’s attention from the first note. I’m looking for the moments in every performance that suggest the artist was reaching with the heart instead of the mind. It’s like recognizing a sweater as hand-knit. I like to knit, and I like things that reveal the individual touch of an artist or a craftsperson. I’m drawn to the confluence of technical mastery and artistic expression.

In the last 5 years, our audience has changed radically – it’s grown and diversified.  I am most proud of that.  The Chicago Tribune said about my work in Chicago:

“Since she took charge as series director 3 years ago people began flocking to Mandel Hall from far beyond the city’s south side to hear what she has to offer them.”

And in an introduction to a talk I gave at the Old Guard in Princeton the Director followed up with:

“And now, people are flocking to Richardson Hall from far beyond the heart of the Princeton campus to hear what she has to offer them.”

It is a privilege to be able to do this work and I look forward to many years to come.

All People