Sunday, August 14, 2011

Yuja Wang's Dress

So Mark Swed of the L.A Times thinks that Yuja Wang's dresses are distractingly skimpy:
Her dress Tuesday was so short and tight that had there been any less of it, the Bowl might have been forced to restrict admission to any music lover under 18 not accompanied by an adult. Had her heels been any higher, walking, to say nothing of her sensitive pedaling, would have been unfeasible. The infernal helicopters that brazenly buzz the Bowl seemed, on this night, like long-necked paparazzi wanting a good look.
 ...whereas Anne Midgette of the Washington Post counters that "in the real world — the world outside classical music’s still-prurient bubble — this is not unusual attire for a young rising starlet in the public eye."
Well, one of the the underlying issues here is that too many classical artists these days sound pretty much alike (the remarkable career of Joyce Hatto would not otherwise have been possible).  Since their musical interpretations are all much of a muchness, performers need to find other ways to stand out from the crowd, and attention-getting clothes are an easy way to do so.  As Anthony Tommasini of the N.Y. Times wrote this week, there's a surfeit of virtuosi in the world of concert pianists.  An interesting juncture in the historical evolution toward uniformity among classical virtuosi came in the 1980s, when artists such as the Kronos Quartet and Nigel Kennedy came along; these folks were double nonconformists in that they both dressed differently and played differently from the majority of the classical community.  They remain anomalous.   Kennedy recently made some scathing comments about how today's musicians have "learned the same technical way [and] all play the same technical way" (original text here).  He's right: even most of today's contemporary music collectives—the many new music ensembles that have emerged in the wake of the Bang on a Can All-Stars—aren't especially imaginative interpreters, notwithstanding their often eyecatching concert attire.

Interestingly, according to Google's "autocomplete" predictive-text feature, one of the commonest search terms along with "Yuja Wang" is "boyfriend."  Here's a recent interview with her; she comes across as intelligent and down-to-earth:
I guess it's just a promo video, so you can't expect much, but what she has to say isn't really as interesting as that deep purple outfit...

This Chinese TV news item is rather... interesting...

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