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Classical 101

Aspiring Piano Professionals Need Thick Skin

Being judged by others, whether it's a work appraisal, an off-the-cuff comment, or something said behind your back, can be unpleasant.  Imagine, then, the life of a professional musician.  I have seen reviews hung on backstage bulletin boards for all to see, others simply not spoken about, yet others refuted by a letter to the editor.

In this day of instant, worldwide communication, the days of waiting until the morning after have been replaced with instant reviews by professionals and amateurs alike.

Tweets, blogs, and Facebook postings go flying into cyberspace bearing opinions, sometimes before a performance is even completed.  The recently completed 14th Van Cliburn International Piano Competition is a prime example.  Here is a sampling of instant critiques that was compiled by Facts and Arts. "It appears that Gustavo Miranda-Bernales of Chile has arrived at the wrong party… (He indulges in) conscious posturing posing as profundity, attention-grabbing accents, funny eyes and extreme facial grimacing." “Fei-Fei Dong's performance of Beethoven's Piano Concerto No. 4 was very distracting to watch. She signals moments of high emotion by scrunching her nose, tilting back her head, and closing her eyes, as if she were perpetually on the verge of a sneeze…" The eventual gold medal winner, Ukrainian Vadym Kholodenko, received somewhat of a left-handed compliment.  He “closed the evening with an absolutely riveting performance of Prokofiev's Third Piano Concerto... It was quite a change from some of the somnolent semifinal performances, during one of which loud snoring echoed through the hall.â€? As the saying goes, everyone's a critic. Read more: Piano competitions: Rhinoceros hide required (Facts and Arts)