Lola Astanova may be a classical musician, but she's hardly what you'd call traditional.
The 32-year-old Russian-American pianist, who prefers stylish, sexy performance outfits over long, dark gowns, takes a unique artistic approach to her music, breaking the stereotype of what she calls "academic, strict, and very proper" classical musicians with her own transcriptions -- and people have definitely taken notice.
Born in Uzbekistan, Astanova took her first piano lesson at six years old. Talented as she was almost right from the start, she began studying under renowned piano professor Tamara Popovich. Her big break came in 2007, four years after emigrating to the U.S., when she starred in the Neiman Marcus Classical Superstars Fantasy Concert hosted by Regis Philbin. Then in 2012, she made her Carnegie Hall debut.
Since then, the virtuoso has amassed quite the following, with thousands of adoring fans praising her musical style...and haters criticizing it as well.
Some have also criticized her for her fashion choices, but as she explains, "the long-gowned, 'rose petals on the keyboard' pianist is just not me."
"There is this 'idea' out there that if a woman is attractive and well-dressed then she cannot be a good musician…a good executive, professional and so on." Click the images below to listen to her play.
"I am happy to be among the women who are proving that accomplished and stylish are not mutually exclusive."
Astanova lists Sergey Rachmaninoff, Frédéric Chopin, Vladimir Horowitzn and Alexei Sultanov as her biggest influences in classical music. But she's also a big fan of pop music and experimenting with other genres. She says "it requires versatility and innovative thinking, which, in my view, goes directly against the instinct of a typical classical musician," adding that "it allows me to be two completely different musicians, which I love."
So, love her or hate her, but nobody can deny she's extremely talented. Her hands fly over the keys effortlessly and even her warm up exercises sound incredible!
(via Lola Astanova)