A blind violinist becomes a key player in a music school’s faculty dysfunction.
Daniel Jacobus (Playing with Fire, 2016, etc.) is probably the last musician Charles Hedge should have tapped as a last-minute replacement for Kinderhoek Conservatory of Music’s “Going for Baroque” festival. But when Isaac Stern cancels his scheduled appearance two days before the festival’s opening, Dean Hedge, who feels he has little choice, accepts adjunct professor Yumi Shinagawa’s offer to persuade her mentor to fill in for Stern. It doesn’t take long for Hedge to regret his decision. Cranky and impatient, Jacobus hectors fellow panelists Sybil Baker-Hulme, Bronislaw Tawroszewicz, and Harold Handy at the opening roundtable, reducing all three of the feuding faculty members’ competing visions of Baroque performance to rubble. His social skills are as iffy as his pedagogical gifts. At a reception at Baker-Hulme and husband Aaron Schlossberg’s gracious countryside home, he takes one bite of skewered squirrel, then dumps his entire plate of hand-foraged morels off the side of the deck. His worst offense, though, is his harsh critique of student violinist Audrey Rollins, who withdraws from Kinderhoek after fleeing the recital hall in embarrassment. The dean wants to send Jacobus packing. But when one of Hedge’s staff is found dead in a practice room, the blind virtuoso may be the only one able to see the truth.
Elias’ sixth entry grafts an old-school curmudgeon detective onto a contemporary faculty farce. Despite his musical prowess, the musician isn’t likable enough to draw much in the way of applause.