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#2260833 - 04/12/14 07:34 PM Valentina Lisitsa talks about elitism, concert etiquette....  
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and Michael Nyman (The Piano) and lots, lots more grin.

www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b040hswk

BTW, you can hear her play Beethoven's 'Tempest' Sonata and Liszt's B minor Sonata in Monday's lunchtime concert from London's Wigmore Hall (BST 1300), which will be broadcast live on Radio 3 too (and available on demand for seven days via BBC iPlayer afterwards).


"I don't play accurately - anyone can play accurately - but I play with wonderful expression. As far as the piano is concerned, sentiment is my forte. I keep science for Life."
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#2261782 - 04/14/14 08:12 PM Re: Valentina Lisitsa talks about elitism, concert etiquette.... [Re: bennevis]  
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I absolutely adore Lisitsa.
Such a beautiful person.

I love her frequent wonderful insights into life and music, her anti-elitism, and her candor about her own career and willingness to share her love of music on a completely different level than many of her peers.

-Daniel


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#2262539 - 04/16/14 09:15 AM Re: Valentina Lisitsa talks about elitism, concert etiquette.... [Re: bennevis]  
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Interesting interview. I wonder if it's true about Chopin's concerts; that is, were concertos really performed that way? A movement, some drinks, some other music, another movement...

I'm not sure I take her at face value that she feels she is the same as any other artist. I've been to one of her concerts and she definitely tries to break down the barriers between audience and performer in a way I haven't seen before. She feels that the reason she is treated differently is because she's viewed as a "novelty" because of how she came to be famous: social media and youtube. But she DOES do things differently, and my sense is that youtube is the symptom, not the cause. In that way, it makes sense for people to wonder what they're going to get with her and expect the mold to be broken in some way. It's not because she is viewed as a pianist-but-with-an-asterisk, which she clearly seems to think she is viewed to be due to her route to fame.

#2262556 - 04/16/14 09:57 AM Re: Valentina Lisitsa talks about elitism, concert etiquette.... [Re: bennevis]  
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I've been to two of her performances. One was a paid, traditional performance in a recital salon, where she didn't speak, and she played exactly what was on the program. The other was a free performance in a church, where, halfway into the performance, she turned to us and proceeded to talk to us for 10 minutes about herself, Ukraine, her career, issues around the Rachmaninoff 3rd Concerto, her husband, and his dare to her that she play the piano part in a solo recital. She ended up doing just that, and it came off really well, despite the fact that it didn't totally "work".

I'm a seasoned concert goer, and I'm quite capable of enjoying a performance without any personality from the performer. However, I enjoyed the second performance I saw her give more than the first. I think she rightly recognizes that she is attractive, her accent is darling, and she has a very cute, engaging personality, and engaging the audience more directly and/or breaking down some of the traditional barriers in stiff classical concert tradition is something she's well-suited for.

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#2262560 - 04/16/14 10:08 AM Re: Valentina Lisitsa talks about elitism, concert etiquette.... [Re: bennevis]  
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I also thought it was effective and engaging. One vocal woman in the audience shouted something to the effect of "just play the piece!" and was promptly shushed by the rest of the audience, but the mood was blown and she promptly did get to the piece.

I, for my part, wanted her to keep going. When else am I going to get that? It's the only time I'm going to get that. I can go home and listen to the piece with no commentary. But live performances are a great time to dig a little deeper into things and also spend some time on some of the more ancillary elements of the piece/composer/performance/performer.

She said one thing I that really resonated with me: live performance IS different, and should be. Colorful and different live performances should be encouraged, not frowned upon. Recordings tend to be hammered into a kind of uniform sound and are criticized when they deviate from what we all apparently agree everything has to sound like now. But live performance can and should be different. She said that when one is really hungry, you don't go watch the Food Network, you go eat some food. And live performances are food.

Last edited by TwoSnowflakes; 04/16/14 10:09 AM.
#2262565 - 04/16/14 10:31 AM Re: Valentina Lisitsa talks about elitism, concert etiquette.... [Re: bennevis]  
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I agree with her wholeheartedly.

If I'm to be honest, I wish that classical music could even abandon the dress codes, black + white aristocratic vibe that it has. I do think that it would increase the mass appeal. We can go anywhere and see jazz/blues in Chicago. People get together and jam. That's what classical music used to be with Schubertiads and the like.

That's how classical music seemed to me in Paris to an extent. Why not have that here? It was both sacred and secular in the first place. It seems that we've turned it into a proper tradition/sculpted art which is not the intent whatsoever. I myself feel pressured to prepare for way too long before even performing. It really shouldn't be that way. Good thing I have a jazz trio as well.


“Music is enough for a lifetime, but a lifetime is not enough for music.”
― Sergei Rachmaninoff
#2262573 - 04/16/14 11:08 AM Re: Valentina Lisitsa talks about elitism, concert etiquette.... [Re: bennevis]  
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I only discovered her the other day, by accident while perusing youtube. She's fabulous. Just what classical needs. A bit like Nigel Kennedy for piano.


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#2262582 - 04/16/14 11:26 AM Re: Valentina Lisitsa talks about elitism, concert etiquette.... [Re: bennevis]  
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Originally Posted by bledredwine
If I'm to be honest, I wish that classical music could even abandon the dress codes, black + white aristocratic vibe that it has. I do think that it would increase the mass appeal.

thumb Not to mention the highly arrogant and elitist, "This is good music because it's good music," mindset (as opposed to, "I like and/or prefer this kind of music, but that's just my personal taste"). Sometimes it's a harmless comment, but the undertones are still there...


Every day we are afforded a new chance. The problem with life is not that you run out of chances. In the end, what you run out of are days.
#2262598 - 04/16/14 12:13 PM Re: Valentina Lisitsa talks about elitism, concert etiquette.... [Re: Derulux]  
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Originally Posted by Derulux
Originally Posted by bledredwine
If I'm to be honest, I wish that classical music could even abandon the dress codes, black + white aristocratic vibe that it has. I do think that it would increase the mass appeal.

thumb Not to mention the highly arrogant and elitist, "This is good music because it's good music," mindset

Or the "I write music for myself, and myself only".

And then wonder why no-one else wants it.......

Personally, I wouldn't go to any concert that imposes a dress code on the audience. Luckily, in London, none do, not even the Royal Opera House - as long as you are reasonably presentable. grin

But as for what the performers wear, I do feel for male orchestral players and soloists who are obliged (or feel obliged) to wear tails in warm concert halls in the summer. It's time penguin suits etc get ditched, and replaced by something much more comfortable. Female performers dress for the occasion - and you won't see any in 'power dress' (i.e. suits, like men).


"I don't play accurately - anyone can play accurately - but I play with wonderful expression. As far as the piano is concerned, sentiment is my forte. I keep science for Life."
#2262607 - 04/16/14 12:48 PM Re: Valentina Lisitsa talks about elitism, concert etiquette.... [Re: Derulux]  
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Originally Posted by Derulux
Originally Posted by bledredwine
If I'm to be honest, I wish that classical music could even abandon the dress codes, black + white aristocratic vibe that it has. I do think that it would increase the mass appeal.

thumb Not to mention the highly arrogant and elitist, "This is good music because it's good music," mindset (as opposed to, "I like and/or prefer this kind of music, but that's just my personal taste"). Sometimes it's a harmless comment, but the undertones are still there...


She went into this idea a little more, actually. And went further with the food analogy. She said that even in an elite, highly reviewed restaurant, people still trust their own tastebuds. If they don't like what they're eating, no amount of good reviews will make them like it, and they don't blame themselves for not liking it. But in classical music, if a listener does not like what they're hearing, instead of simply saying "I don't like it" they often blame themselves for just not being sophisticated enough to appreciate it.

That's a problem. People end up either not going at all, or listening to Britten like it's medicine they have to take.

On the other hand, it's not all the way true that all you need for full musical enjoyment is your own reaction, no matter how little exposed to music you might be. Because there IS more, true enjoyment can and does come from just more than one place.

It's true in more than just music. Some amount of context and experience often IS necessary to appreciate something well. My husband takes pride in being a bit of the anti-establishment listener to classical music. He is adamant that if he does not immediately like something, it's just not good and that's that. No amount of convincing him that if he just understood a little bit more about what the piece is doing would serve to heighten his enjoyment.

He's a huge fan of comedy, however. As I am. But what makes good comedy so funny is simply this: it plays with expectations. There's an expectation, and then that expectation is violated and you end up someplace different, refreshing, wholly new. But you have to HAVE the expectation. And expectation is borne out of experience and understanding. It's true of a simple pratfall ("haha, guy fell down when he didn't want to"), but it's really true of the wittiest comedy. And given he's a very big fan of that, he ought to be more appreciative of the role of context and experience and expectation in music.

If you don't understand anything about what you're listening to, then your enjoyment is often limited to some simple aspects of it. Not that these aren't important; they are, but there's more. YOU will find more enjoyable if YOU know more coming in. Then you can find enjoyment in the way a piece goes here, when you expect it to go there. Your ear will enjoy the journey.

This is true for almost everything. Literature, film, visual arts. We are, at our core, difference detectors, and we're very, very good at it. Playing with our expectations is extremely effective and often essential part of any art form.

But that being said, I don't think we all need degrees in music in order to properly appreciate all there is to it. On the contrary, it has to be a combination of both, and the good thing is that simple exposure to LOTS of music will naturally give a listener the context that adds enjoyment to his or her listening. And if we're alienating new audiences because they can't even get in the door without feeling intimidated, then something is wrong.

I don't envy the role that any orchestral program director must face: the pressure to program music that interests and captivates the experienced listener but doesn't deprive the new listener from enjoying themselves enough to come back. I just went to a concert that tried, but failed, to walk that line. Yet, it's so essential that they try.

Valentina appears to be a wonderful opportunity to build that bridge. She's tapped into something essential and exciting, playing traditional repertoire that the common wisdom should say would not have the effect it's having. These works have not recently captivated the kind of people she's captivating. The more they are exposed, the more they experience. The more they experience, the more they enjoy. And the more they enjoy, the more they want to hear. Artists benefits. Composers benefit. And then audiences benefit (cue "Circle of Life" music).

Now we have to figure out why it works and how to make it keep going.


#2262647 - 04/16/14 02:13 PM Re: Valentina Lisitsa talks about elitism, concert etiquette.... [Re: bennevis]  
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Originally Posted by bennevis
Originally Posted by Derulux
Originally Posted by bledredwine
If I'm to be honest, I wish that classical music could even abandon the dress codes, black + white aristocratic vibe that it has. I do think that it would increase the mass appeal.

thumb Not to mention the highly arrogant and elitist, "This is good music because it's good music," mindset


...But as for what the performers wear, I do feel for male orchestral players and soloists who are obliged (or feel obliged) to wear tails in warm concert halls in the summer. It's time penguin suits etc get ditched, and replaced by something much more comfortable. Female performers dress for the occasion - and you won't see any in 'power dress' (i.e. suits, like men).


Truer words were never spoken. As a long-time orchestral player of the double bass, I hold no love for tuxedos. Playing the bass is quite physically demanding, and to have to play it in constraining clothing isn't fun.

My bass teacher is the principal bassist in the pit orchestra for a leading professional opera company. Even though the pit musicians are entirely out of the view of the opera house audience, the men are required to wear tailcoats and white ties. Why?

I saw a recital once by the outstanding young double bass soloist Daxun Zhang (yes, there are bass soloists; three, by my last count). He performed in what I assumed was traditional Chinese attire. It resembled a set of fancy silk pajamas.

That's my kind of tuxedo!


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#2262716 - 04/16/14 05:09 PM Re: Valentina Lisitsa talks about elitism, concert etiquette.... [Re: bennevis]  
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Originally Posted by bennevis
Originally Posted by Derulux

thumb Not to mention the highly arrogant and elitist, "This is good music because it's good music," mindset

Or the "I write music for myself, and myself only".

And then wonder why no-one else wants it.......

Actually, I do believe that composers should "write for themselves" because the final product should be authentic, and come from the heart. Once the composition is completed, however, they can only hope that their audiences will agree with their artistic choices.

But what they should not do is whine about getting "no respect" when the audience happens to think their masterpiece sucks.

#2262786 - 04/16/14 07:37 PM Re: Valentina Lisitsa talks about elitism, concert etiquette.... [Re: bennevis]  
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Originally Posted by bennevis
Female performers dress for the occasion - and you won't see any in 'power dress' (i.e. suits, like men).

What's wrong with female suits? They look much better than dresses. That's probably why Avdeeva won. smirk

#2262795 - 04/16/14 08:16 PM Re: Valentina Lisitsa talks about elitism, concert etiquette.... [Re: JoelW]  
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Originally Posted by JoelW
Originally Posted by bennevis
Female performers dress for the occasion - and you won't see any in 'power dress' (i.e. suits, like men).

What's wrong with female suits? They look much better than dresses. That's probably why Avdeeva won. smirk


I think mostly they prefer to wear something that leaves them maximum freedom of movement for their arms and shoulders. Playing is hard enough without having to fight with fabrics.



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#2262861 - 04/17/14 12:15 AM Re: Valentina Lisitsa talks about elitism, concert etiquette.... [Re: bennevis]  
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I have one female acquaintance who is a professional orchestra musician and therefore must be in concert attire most days of the week. I know what she wears and it isn't nearly as constricting as what her male counterparts wear. It's tasteful and appropriate but she gets a lot more choice in terms of fabric and outfit piece options, while still looking completely professional from the audience perspective. Semi-opaque comfortable black tights, a tailored-looking skirt in a stretch fabric so it has comfortable give to it. A comfortable lightweight blouse that breathes. Or maybe a knit wrap dress in black. Frankly, the same sort of thing I wear to work when I have to look professional and yet won't mind sitting down all day in it. When I see her after she's performed, she doesn't need to change. She just kicks off her shoes, pushes her sleeves up to her elbows, tucks her feet under her and that's that. Up close you can see it's comfortable and casual. From the audience it looks tasteful, tailored, and black.

It couldn't be any further from what the men seem to have to wear. My piano teacher's son (not the teacher I have now--the one I grew up with) is in the same orchestra. Same section, too. And he long predates her. I remember him well as a kid and he's still there. Which means he's spent more than 30 years performing in that standard male tux orchestral uniform. Strike that, I just checked his bio and he apparently joined in 1960, so he's been wearing some version of what he's wearing on stage for over 50 years. It looks uncomfortable and the way most of the male musicians seem to be kind of sweating by the end, it's clear it's not some kind of magic stage costume that really has give and breathes, but looks like a tux from the audience. He's wearing exactly what it looks like he's wearing.

Poor guy. The orchestra would look nearly as professional with the men in black slacks and white buttondowns with no tie. The tux is striking and formal, but black slacks and a white button down very nearly evokes it and looks crisp and uniform behind an instrument. The arm of a suit is not meant to accommodate the kind of motion required of an orchestral instrument. Say, a highly held and rapidly moving bowing arm. The way the fabric puckers and bunches up by the shoulderpads--it's frankly not a very good look anyway! I'd almost rather seem them in shirtsleeves.

#2262934 - 04/17/14 04:39 AM Re: Valentina Lisitsa talks about elitism, concert etiquette.... [Re: TwoSnowflakes]  
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Originally Posted by TwoSnowflakes
...... he's spent more than 30 years performing in that standard male tux orchestral uniform. Strike that, I just checked his bio and he apparently joined in 1960, so he's been wearing some version of what he's wearing on stage for over 50 years. It looks uncomfortable and the way most of the male musicians seem to be kind of sweating by the end, it's clear it's not some kind of magic stage costume that really has give and breathes, but looks like a tux from the audience. He's wearing exactly what it looks like he's wearing.


It's definitely high time - and long overdue - for a makeover for the male concert attire.

Jean-Yves Thibaudet wears Armani, but his suit looks more comfortable than that of the usual tails of most concert pianists.

I'm sure that Giorgio could come up with an equally stylish but even more comfortable and cooler attire if he put his mind to it. Men sweating profusely while playing sublime music isn't a pretty sight...... grin


"I don't play accurately - anyone can play accurately - but I play with wonderful expression. As far as the piano is concerned, sentiment is my forte. I keep science for Life."
#2262935 - 04/17/14 04:41 AM Re: Valentina Lisitsa talks about elitism, concert etiquette.... [Re: JoelW]  
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Originally Posted by JoelW
Originally Posted by bennevis
Female performers dress for the occasion - and you won't see any in 'power dress' (i.e. suits, like men).

What's wrong with female suits? They look much better than dresses. That's probably why Avdeeva won. smirk

Avdeeva's suits are stretchy, and Lycra-based, unlike male suits. (I saw her in concert in London close-up).

She could probably perform aerobics quite comfortably in them if she chose to...... wink


"I don't play accurately - anyone can play accurately - but I play with wonderful expression. As far as the piano is concerned, sentiment is my forte. I keep science for Life."
#2262938 - 04/17/14 04:58 AM Re: Valentina Lisitsa talks about elitism, concert etiquette.... [Re: Old Man]  
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Originally Posted by Old Man
Actually, I do believe that composers should "write for themselves" because the final product should be authentic, and come from the heart. Once the composition is completed, however, they can only hope that their audiences will agree with their artistic choices.

But what they should not do is whine about getting "no respect" when the audience happens to think their masterpiece sucks.

I think that good old Wolfgang's attitude towards composing music for his audiences has much to commend it:

Letter to his father (about his new K413 - K415 concertos):
"These concertos are a happy medium between what is too easy and too difficult; they are very brilliant, pleasing to the ear, and natural, without being vapid. There are passages here and there from which connoisseurs alone can derive satisfaction, but these are written in such a way that the less learned cannot fail to be pleased, though without knowing why.

The golden mean of truth in all things is no longer known or appreciated. In order to win applause, one must write stuff which is so inane that a coachman could sing it, or so unintelligible that it pleases precisely because no sensible man can understand it."

Now, there speaks a great composer....... thumb


"I don't play accurately - anyone can play accurately - but I play with wonderful expression. As far as the piano is concerned, sentiment is my forte. I keep science for Life."
#2262968 - 04/17/14 07:47 AM Re: Valentina Lisitsa talks about elitism, concert etiquette.... [Re: bennevis]  
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Or, you know, one could write music that's meant to communicate something *between* composer, performer and audience.


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#2263048 - 04/17/14 11:06 AM Re: Valentina Lisitsa talks about elitism, concert etiquette.... [Re: hreichgott]  
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Originally Posted by hreichgott
Or, you know, one could write music that's meant to communicate something *between* composer, performer and audience.


That's how I've always imagined the intent of great composers.


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#2263058 - 04/17/14 11:47 AM Re: Valentina Lisitsa talks about elitism, concert etiquette.... [Re: bennevis]  
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Originally Posted by bennevis
Originally Posted by Old Man
Actually, I do believe that composers should "write for themselves" because the final product should be authentic, and come from the heart. Once the composition is completed, however, they can only hope that their audiences will agree with their artistic choices.

But what they should not do is whine about getting "no respect" when the audience happens to think their masterpiece sucks.

I think that good old Wolfgang's attitude towards composing music for his audiences has much to commend it:

Letter to his father (about his new K413 - K415 concertos):
"These concertos are a happy medium between what is too easy and too difficult; they are very brilliant, pleasing to the ear, and natural, without being vapid. There are passages here and there from which connoisseurs alone can derive satisfaction, but these are written in such a way that the less learned cannot fail to be pleased, though without knowing why.

The golden mean of truth in all things is no longer known or appreciated. In order to win applause, one must write stuff which is so inane that a coachman could sing it, or so unintelligible that it pleases precisely because no sensible man can understand it."

Now, there speaks a great composer....... thumb

thumb I knew there was a reason this "less learned coachman" loves Mozart so much!


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by memtrix. 12/12/17 05:29 AM
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