By Greg Carannante
City & Shore Magazine
“She’s like the Lady Gaga of classical music.”
Hyperbole aside, that quote from a New York Daily News story on her 2012 Carnegie Hall debut makes it clear that Lola Astanova is not your typical piano virtuoso.
This is also immediately obvious upon one eyeful. Her appearance is as striking as her attack of the keyboard. Young, lithe and stiletto-shod, the Russian-American is a Top 10 fashionista as well as an electronic music fan who name-drops the likes of Skrillex. Her classical transcription of Rihanna’s Don’t Stop the Music has almost 2 million YouTube hits.
She also has the audacity to say things like this: “I believe it is time for classical musicians to say we are in the entertainment business…. Each concert must be a love affair, not a funeral.”
A performer since she was 8, the pianist is known for her interpretations of masters like Chopin, Liszt and Rachmaninoff, but her repertoire has expanded to Gershwin, a Horowitz tribute and, just last month, the world premiere of her original composition, Astanova – Three Songs,” at the Miami Symphony Orchestra’s eclectic Miami Rocks show that also featured Tiempo Libre, an Afro-Caribbean band; and one of the original “soul men,” Sam Moore of Sam and Dave.
Astanova’s association with MiSo continues May 15, as she headlines the orchestra’s grand season finale, performing Mozart’s Piano Concerto in D minor, his first written in a minor key. Conductor Eduardo Marturet will also lead the orchestra in works by Ginastera and Sibelius.
MISO season finale, featuring Lola Astanova, 6 p.m. May 15 at the Arsht Center for the Performing Arts, Miami. For details, please visit themiso.org or call 305-275-5666.