If Lucia Micarelli followed the conventional path for classical music virtuosos, she’d be playing violin concertos in the world’s great concert halls. The strict musical regimen she experienced until she was 17 dictated that would be her fate.
Raised in New York and Hawaii, Micarelli began music studies at age 3. She performed as a soloist with the Honolulu Symphony Orchestra when she was 6. And she enrolled in the Juilliard School of Music’s pre-college division at 11.
Micarelli didn’t even listen to nonclassical music until she left Juilliard to attend the Manhattan School of Music.
“I wasn’t allowed to listen to anything but classical music,” the violinist, singer and actress said in advance of her Sunday concert at the Manship Theatre. “But then I went to college. I heard Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, (John) Coltrane and Miles Davis, all in the same week. I was like, ‘Whaa-aat?’ I thought this stuff was so out there. And, like every teenaged boy, I wanted to play every Led Zeppelin guitar solo, but on the violin.”
Led Zeppelin’s “Kashmir,” is now part of Micarelli’s eclectic repertoire. The violinist’s latest album, taken from her PBS special, “An Evening with Lucia Micarelli,” includes the rock classic as well as the jazz standard “Nature Boy”; old-time fiddle tune “Ladies Fancy”; and classical pieces by Maurice Ravel, Camille Saint-Saëns and Samuel Barber. Micarelli also performs “This City,” a song composed by Steve Earle, the Texas singer-songwriter Micarelli co-starred with on “Treme,” the HBO series set in post-Hurricane Katrina New Orleans. At the Manship Theatre, Micarelli will be joined her touring group, which includes a second violinist, viola, cello, bass, guitar and piano.
Obviously, the variety set Micarelli performs is a big departure from classical concerts and recitals. That doesn’t mean she’s abandoned her training.
“I am a classical violinist,” she said. “I enjoy playing and attending classical concerts. But I’m so musically curious that I don’t want to present a purely classical show now.”
Living and working in New Orleans while she played Annie Talarico in “Treme” greatly expanded Micarelli’s musicianship. Before that experience she hadn’t done much improvising or known about the kaleidoscope of music played in New Orleans.
“Before ‘Treme,’ I thought New Orleans music was a genre,” she said. “I didn’t know about traditional jazz and Cajun music. I’d never heard of zydeco. As time goes by, I realize more and more what a formative experience that was for me.”
David Simon, executive producer and co-creator of “Treme,” threw the first-time actor into her role as Annie.
“When I got to New Orleans,” she said, “David asked me, ‘Have you ever played trad?’ I was like, ‘I don’t know what that is.’ ”
Simon informed Micarelli she’d be filming a scene with the Jazz Vipers in a few days. He suggested she prep for it by attending a Jazz Vipers’ show at The Spotted Cat on Frenchmen Street. When Micarelli went to the show, the Vipers invited her to join them on stage.
“I was like, ‘I don’t know what to do!’ ” she recalled. “They said, ‘It’s OK. Let’s just play music.’ ”
Micarelli’s first try at sitting in with the Jazz Vipers was a disaster, she said. “After the set, I was so apologetic. Somebody said, ‘Why don’t you sit in with us again tomorrow night? It can only get better.’ ”
By the time they shot the scene for “Treme,” Micarelli was able to play some solos and make it work, “all because of the Jazz Vipers’ generosity,” she said. “I found that generosity over and over in New Orleans. People taught me stuff. They were so willing to help.”
In addition to playing musical styles she’d never performed before, Micarelli made her singing debut on “Treme.” Now, during her genre-crossing concerts, she especially loves singing “This City.”
“The song encapsulates so much of New Orleans and how I feel about that city,” she said. “I sing ‘This City’ because I love that song so much and I’m so moved by it.”
At least for now, Micarelli plans to play only music she loves.
“This is what I want to share with people,” she said.
WHEN: Sunday. Show starts at 7 p.m.
WHERE: Manship Theatre, 100 Lafayette St.