Sunday, June 15, 2008

An artist's choice: endorse designer gear, or play in a prison?

Here's a pseudo-profound thought for Sunday brunch. When someone makes the celebrity big-time as a classical musicians, should they popularise the face of classical music and making it look 'cool' by modelling designer gear? Or would they do better to take music where it doesn't usually go and show how much good it can do?

Opera Chic reports that Lang Lang has endorsed some Adidas trainers. You can wear his name in Chinese on your heels.

I remember the day - some years ago - when I went to heaven and back at Lang Lang's concerts. A Mendelssohn piano concerto, light as a hummingbird. A Wigmore recital full of variety and marvel and love. Hats off, folks, a genius, I said. Then it all went pear-shaped. No idea what happened, but he zoomed way off the deep end in a Rachmaninov concerto in Verbier, and it just hasn't been the same since. So if he fancies going down a different route to make money, that's fine with me. We should let all the megastar names who've made the big time and become warped in the process do their modelling and endorsing et al, and make way for the real musicians who are quietly working themselves into the ground for the sake of their art. Lang Lang can do his trainers, Netrebko is welcome to her diamonds, and I'd like to nominate Anne-Sophie Mutter for a contract to model anything she likes at the most expensive level possible so that I don't have to listen to her 'artist of extremes' stuff ever again.

Tonight, one of the less-blingy artists who's in it for the music is indeed getting some prime media attention: our own violin heroine Tasmin Little is the subject of The South Bank Show! Tune in and see her playing everywhere from Stratford-on-Avon to a Brighton hostel for the homeless and Belmarsh Prison on her Naked Violin project.

Finally, just have a look at this article from today's Independent on singing for peace in Darfur. Music has that much power. So what are its most famous practitioners doing endorsing trainers?

Rant over. off to practise my readings for Tuesday now.