September 17, 2008

Talent plus….?

This week, the League of American Orchestras quoted an article from America's well-known “men’s magazine” showcasing 10 rising female stars in the classical music world. Not only are these artists real talents, but, according to the magazine, they also seem to meet a certain standard of beauty.

Turns out that three of the 10 are connected to us: 30-year old violinist Leila Josefowicz, who performs Beethoven’s Violin Concerto with the RPO on January 29 and 31; 28-year old soprano Danielle DiNiese, who sang Messiah with us last year (and blew everyone away with her masterclass at Penfield High School); and, until last year, our own principal oboist Ariana Ghez, now principal with the Los Angeles Philharmonic.

“Hollywood demands attractiveness in exchange for success and does Ghez ever deliver. She plays a mean oboe, too, and at 28 she’s one of the youngest leaders in a major orchestra. Ghez shot up the ranks after earning a dual degree in English and music from Columbia and Juilliard, playing with the Rochester Philharmonic before landing her big gig in the land of sun.”

Okay, okay, don’t kill the messenger…I have my own thoughts about this article. Isn’t the magazine just using the guise of breaking the stereotype of “nerdy” classical musicians to put forth their own agenda, which is using physical attractiveness to sell magazines? Must we/should we be measuring the “hotness” level of performers? Are “classical” musicians being judged on the same lowest common denominator of physical appearance? How does artistry compete with an artist’s appearance -- think the Ahn Trio.

Does “classical” mean that they be viewed differently than, say pop, country, rock or jazz artists? With all the gender discussion this election season, has the pressure of needing to be “hot” extended to men in the public eye? So is it true that “Hollywood demands attractiveness in exchange for success?” GRRR.

Blog me away.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

This is nothing new. Musicians have always been held to higher standards when it comes to stage presence and from coloring your hair to wearing contact lenses on stage everybody in this business does what it takes to look their best. Unless, of course, your look is the "no shave, no shower" look which brings a certain conductor to mind. What has changed is that today's managers are less familiar with the repertoire and interpretation which then makes the beauty contest more important than it should be. This is not unique to classical music either- pop, rock and rap suffer from the very same problem. Interestingly the really outstanding musicians do not impress with their looks, but with their sound. I know what Murray Perrahia sounds like without having to see him play- same with Andre Watts, Elisabeth Schwarzkopf, Santiago Rodriguez and Stefan Askenase.....