The Well-Tempered Ear

Classical music: Pianist Yuja Wang isn’t alone in using her sexy good looks, chic fashion and in-your-face media remarks to create controversy and controversy to advance her career.

November 12, 2011

By Jacob Stockinger

For a couple of months now, the focus of controversy in where the worlds of classical music and fashion intersect has focused on the young piano phenomenon Yuja Wang (below).

Wang, you may recall appeared in an orange micro skirt when she performed the Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No. 3 with the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra in the Hollywood Bowl. It raised eyebrows and created great buzz in the press and on the Internet – all to Wang’s benefit, it seems. 

Here are some reminders:–-besides-an-orange-micro-skirt-makes-pianist-yuja-wang-sizzle/’s-bare-chested-and-beefcake-opera-singing-compare-with-yuja-wang’s-micro-skirt-piano-playing/’s-concert-skirt-too-short-what-is-inappropriate-concert-attire-for-a-performer-male-or-female/

But a recent column or story on the blog by Anne Midgette of The Washington Post points out that Wang isn’t the only classical performer to get caught up in such antics.

What about posing nude for a CD cover of solo works by J.S. Bach?

That would be unapologetic and unabashed violinist Lara St. John (below)? 

What about a cellist striking back at a reporter? That would be Gauthier Capucon.

How about someone breaking the Guinness Book of World Records for the speed of playing “The Flight of the Bumble Bee?

That would be violinist David Garrett.

A lot of it will be explored in a story about classical musicians going wild by Katherine Boyle this Sunday in The Washington Post.

But here is a link to a good preview with some of the major points and personalities.

But it is hardly new.

I remember that years ago – more than a decade, I think – there was   controversy when EMI made violinist Nadia Salerno-Sonnenberg poses for a CD cover and poster sitting a some ruin-like industrial setting looking tres sexy and tarty. Then there was violinist Nigel Kennedy — aka Kennedy — at his punkster best. And pianist-fashion model Jean-Yves Thibaudet and his red socks. And on and on.

Marketing. It’s all marketing in such a competitive environment and bad economy.

Except that when it is your livelihood and career at stake, it feels like much more than simple marketing.

In short, classical music these days is about a lot more than classical music.

Do you know of other examples, especially ones that annoy you?

The Ear wants to hear.

Posted in Classical music

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