“The last two reviews that I’ve seen of 24-year-old pianist Yuja Wang‘s performances mention her concert dresses. Or lack thereof, more accurately.”
I don’t know if Ameer read my Globe and Mail review of Wang’s performance with the Toronto Symphony Orchestra on June 7. In it, I mentioned the pianist’s “skimpy red dress that looked suitable for a little post-concert clubbing.” Wang’s wardrobe (and critical response to it) has generated quite a few posts on the blog – and I decided to jump in to the debate. Here’s what I wrote:
I don’t want to impugn Wang’s character for her choice of attire – and maybe it does, somehow, help her play better. As well, I acknowledge that classical concerts do have a theatrical element – we are there to watch as well as listen. But it disturbs me to see the values of Hollywood creeping into the classical music world. If being attractive (and displaying it) becomes part of the job, where does that leave people (especially women) who are excellent musicians but who might not look so fetching in form-fitting clothes?
I know of at least one female concert pianist who was turned down by a major record label because someone important didn’t think she’d look appealing on the front of a CD. Fortunately, she went on to have a very successful career anyway.
In my original post I didn’t name the “female pianist” in question. But upon further reflection, I see no reason not to. It was Angela Hewitt (who told me all about the incident, a few years ago, in an interview) – and the record label was Deutsche Grammophon.
© Colin Eatock 2011