Ahead of Sarah Koenig -- host of "Serial," the most downloaded podcast in history -- speaking at Maryland Hall for the Creative Arts this Friday, The Voice spoke with Margaret Davis, CEO and president of Maryland Hall about the decision to invite Koenig.
The Voice: Why are you interested in bringing Ms. Koenig to Maryland Hall?
Davis: Sarah Koenig is a pretty eminent storyteller. She’s a phenomenal journalist. The way her art of storytelling connects with people and brings people together really truly to form a community of connections is the best there is. Maryland Hall wants to present the best. She connects people.
The Voice: Was there any specific time peg as to why you wanted to bring her now?
Davis: Maryland Hall is entering its 40th year. This is a big milestone for us. To have Sarah Koenig here with all that she represents and the firsts she’s obtained -- the most downloaded podcast in history -- the incredible journalist that she is. This is a terrific springboard for us launching our 40th anniversary year.
The Voice: Do you know what she’ll be discussing?
Davis: As she said in her own voice: What makes good stories; the art of storytelling; why we connect through stories; how we connect through stories; and what makes a good story, what keeps us engaged in stories. She’s been telling stories her whole career. She’s going to be talking about them.
Sarah is going to be talking about her storytelling and how we connect through stories, but she’s really being interviewed with a very important interviewer, pretty well known, Aaron Henkin from WYPR. He has a national show called "[Out of the Blocks]." He’s both going to be talking to her on that show, but he’s the one who’s actually going to be here facilitating that conversation. This is a tremendous opportunity for people who are long-listeners of this genre, but more importantly, interested in how to tell phenomenal stories and how human beings and humanity all over the world connect through stories for millenia. I always say the humanities and humanity is about connecting through stories.
The Voice: Circling back to the beginning of the conversation, in terms of both the audience and Maryland Hall, why is it important to bring Sarah Koenig?
Davis: Our mission is we’re dedicated to arts for all. We’re defining our mission as we are the region’s cultural core. We convene and we’re engaging all people in art experiences to strengthen the community. That is what Sarah Koenig is all about. She’s a perfect match for our expanded mission as we look toward the future.
The Voice: Those are all of my questions unless there’s anything you think we should know.
Davis: We surveyed our ticket buyers in advance of this performance so we could get their questions and incorporate them for Aaron and give them to Aaron in advance so the conversation he’s having with Sarah is going to very much reflect the interests of the audience, as well.
We very much take our responsibility as the region’s cultural hub seriously, and this is about art in all of its forms for all people. We’re convening and engaging our audiences and beyond in an experience that truly strengthens the community. I want to reiterate that and say none of that is possible without the donations and support to make this kind of programming feasible.
We’re excited about this, and this is a huge step. This is an internationally renowned individual. We’re so excited to be able to bring her to Maryland Hall.
Koenig will be speaking at Maryland Hall on Friday, May 17. The discussion starts at 8:00pm. Tickets range from $25-$35, and they can be purchased online.