Her Name is Lola. She IS a Showgirl…and a Supernova!!!

Posted: January 17, 2012 in Culture, Entertainment, Music, New York City, Nightlife, Performance, Uncategorized

Every once in a while, a younger person emerges upon the cultural mainstream from the world of classical music and is clearly ready to take their rightful place as a crossover superstar. In the last thirty years, notable examples of same have included violinists Midori, Joshua Bell and Vanessa-Mae, as well as vocalists Josh Groban, Charlotte Church and Cecilia Bartoli. To this illustrious roster must be added the name of Lola Astanova, a twentysomething pianist about to make her Carnegie Hall debut on Thursday, January 19th at 8 PM, as part of a benefit for the American Cancer Society. Chaired by Donald Trump and hosted by Julie Andrews, what marks this event as additionally unique is that Astanova is not only presenting her program of selections as a tribute to the legendary pianist Vladimir Horowitz, but she will be playing on the momentous Horowitz Steinway, being trotted out for the concert by longtime Horowitz trustee Franz Mohr.

A native of the Uzbekistani capital of Tashkent in the former Soviet Union, Astanova began studying and performing in recitals by the age of six, and from the very beginning her course was clear. “I knew right away,” she said in a recent radio interview, “that being a musician and having a place on stage was what I wanted out of life.” Her earliest mentors include the renowned instructor Len Naumov at the Moscow State Conservatory, whose own pedagogical lineage traces directly back to Franz Lizst. Clearly established as a musical prodigy by the age of nine, it was at this time that she and Naumov visited the United States and she experienced Carnegie Hall for the first time as a spectator; she knew inherently that she would one day play on its hallowed stage.

However, she had quite a way to go before she got there. After concertizing extensively throughout Europe, Astanova made her official American debut in 2007 at the Kennedy Center, as part of the Neiman-Marcus Christmas Catalog concert alongside the Kirov Orchestra and Valery Gergiev besides Regis Philbin (and in the process received a Steinway piano as a gift for her incredible performance). She relocated to New York very shortly thereafter, and has since proudly become what she calls with a chuckle, “just another regular American girl. I love New York, I love to shop, I love going out…I just happen to have a job that’s a little bit different than other girls my age.”

Capitalizing on the “broadcast yourself” idea made so popular in modern culture by such Internet factions as YouTube, it was the mere blink of an eye before Astanova was camcording her performances of classical compositions and displaying them across the information superhighway. Always impeccably dressed in high fashion and looking scrumptiously beautiful only added to her allure, and before long her videos were garnering hits in the hundreds of thousands. And it isn’t merely older aficianados of concerti and sonati who have happily joined her fan base; indeed, legions of younger people across the globe are jumping on her bandwagon and admitting, begrudgingly or otherwise, that classical music can be cool. But, not to be outdone, she has also begun transcribing contemporary pieces and giving them a classical spin (one in particular, Rihanna’s “Don’t Stop the Music,” has garnered well over one million YouTube views, and this is just one of several).

It is a sure bet that a star will be born in the personage of Lola Astanova before this week has concluded. The Carnegie Hall concert is almost completely sold out at this point, but keep a very careful eye on her name. To merely say she’s “goin’ places” would be the understatement of the decade.

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