Violinist serenades Mount Pleasant drivers


Harrison native Michael Korman plays his violin on the corner of South Mission Street and East Bluegrass Road in Mount Pleasant on Oct. 26.

As the street light changed from green to yellow to red, Michael Korman's fingers flushed the same red color as he gripped his violin. 

Cars that stopped at the intersection of South Mission Street and East Blue Grass Road were serenaded by "Somewhere Over the Rainbow," prompting drivers to roll down their windows and listen. 

Korman, 76, makes frequent visits from his residence in Harrison to the street corner to "practice," but said he has had the privilege to play his almost 70-year-old violin across the world.

His grandfather – who was a member of a Baltimore symphony – bought Korman his first violin when he was 8 years old, which he still plays. 

Korman said he and his wife started coming to Mount Pleasant to have dinner. Now the Harrison resident sits on his stool at the corner and plays once or twice a month on Fridays and Saturdays.

"(The corner of Mission Street and Blue Grass Road) is a great place to play," Korman said, looking over his shoulder to the busy intersection. "I always have a captive audience."

Shepherd resident James Uthe and his son Declan got out their vehicle to personally thank Korman for his playing.

"I hear you all the time when I come up to the curb," another listener said. "I always enjoy it."

For Korman, the only American city he has not played in is New Orleans.

Nearly twenty years ago, Korman said he was playing on a New York City street, not far from Times Square. Despite not having an amplifier for his violin, a few listeners who stopped to listen eventually multiplied to nearly 500 people, he said.

"Eventually, a box ambulance pulled up behind me and the driver pulled out his hand-held microphone, holding it up to my violin," Korman said. "People from three blocks away were wondering where the amplified violin was coming from."

While playing outside at a Florida shop, Korman met pianist and accordionist Jon Persson and the duo went on to play on a worldwide cruise while traveling to Fort Lauderdale, Florida, the Panama Canal and Sydney, Australia. 

"He was brilliant – every key and every note," Korman said about Persson.

Korman said one of his favorite songs to play is "Jelly on the Cracker" or "Jello on the Ritz" – a song from the 1930s. He also often plays Antonio Vivaldi's "Four Seasons" from memory, although he said he used to play it a lot better.

Despite playing around the world, the Kalamazoo native said one of his fondest memories is when he and his father would go fishing north of Big Rapids. If they did not catch anything, Korman said they would stop at a trout farm in Paris to have fish to take home.