Clothing Doesn't Make the Music, the Artist Does!

Mark Swed's Review of Yuja Wang at the Hollywood Bowl Continues to be the topic of the day

The furor over Yuja's dress amazes me. I've seen Yuja in concert three times. She is amazing... not just a little bit. If you aren't stunned by her ability at the piano, you're dead. This being the case, why is the outfit she wore at the Hollywood Bowl such an issue?
Mark Swed does talk about her playing saying, "...there Wang was, projected in leering close-up on the Bowl’s video screens playing a superhuman concerto with unabashed cool." IMHO - 'nuf said. There is no reason to talk about her dress, no reason to say, "Her dress Tuesday was so short and tight that had there been any less of it, the Bowl might have been forced to restrict admission to any music lover under 18 not accompanied by an adult."
Classical music artists are competing for audiences with popular music artists as well as other classical music artists. They struggle to make their performance style unique and yet still display their amazing talent for performance of music that is exceptionally difficult. Lang Lang has been criticized for being too flashy, yet reviews also comment on how talented a performer he is. Lang Lang is also attracting a new and young audience to his concerts because of this flash. Well, Yuja is competing for the same concerts, the same audiences, the same orchestras as Lang Lang. She needs to present herself in a way a younger audience will connect. Her dress was nothing out of the ordinary for what women wear in other arts industries aimed at that same younger audience range.
She was no where even close to being as provocative as Christina Aguilera, Mariah Carey or Pink. . These are all artists young (i.e., under 18) listen to and are familiar with their mode of dress.

We complain on the one hand that the audience of classical music concerts are aging and the youth don't appreciate "good music," then we put a double standard on our artists asking them to conform to a style that simply doesn't resonate with that same younger audience. If we want the youth to listen to classical music we need to be open to presenting classical music in a way that appeals to an younger audience, something they can relate to. Yuja IS young and dressed very much in a style appropriate for her age.

Clothing doesn't make the music, the artist does. Yuja Wang, Lang Lang, Joshua Bell, Nicola Benedetti, Hilary Hahn and many more are young aritists showing the old classical world just how creative classical music can be. They are also reaching a new, younger audience - which is great for artists young and old alike. Let's stop talking about what they're wearing and starting focusing on their amazing ability. Yes, they all happen to be young, vibrant and even sexy "stars" - but it's the music that matters.


Sarah said…
Yes. However, I saw a woman perform arias in a nice outfit and no shoes. No SHOES. And, guess what I remember? Nothing but her bare feet. So, no, the clothes don't make the music, but they can be enough of a distraction that no one remembers the music.
Chip Michael said…
Interesting point, Sarah... Yes, I suppose there is something to say for not distracting your audience.

Based on this I think it's safe to say Mark was pretty distracted.
Sarah said…
Yes, he was. However, it is his job as a music critic to critique the MUSIC, so you have a good point as well.
Maybe he should have listened to the CD? I jest.
Chip Michael said…
or closed his eyes...

Popular posts from this blog

The Art of String Quartets by Brian Ferneyhough

Pacific Symphony's Ninth American Composers Festival Explores The Composers And Music That Belonged To "Hollywood's Golden Age"

New Music: "A Sweeter Music" by Sarah Cahill