It’s common for the world-class pianists coming through town to play Portland Piano International to take our breath away with their playing. But it’s a rare day when they do so with their style and beauty. Enter Lola Astanova. The 28-year-old Russian-American pianist was ranked one of the “Top Ten Style Icons in Classical Music” by Limelight Magazine, graced the cover of Haute Living with a photoshoot at Donald Trump’s Mar-A-Lago Club, and lists the thoroughly un-classical Sex and the City as a primary source of stylistic inspiration.
While Astanova explains that “romantic” music is the heart of her practice, she also loves a cutting-classical-edge interpretation of current pop and house music. Her renditions of Rihanna and Madonna have racked up more than a million views and secured her status as a dynamic artist with wide appeal to younger generations.
Lola Astanova Gala Recital
Gerding Theater at the Armory
Not to say that she doesn’t also have the classical chops. She recently sold out her Carnegie Hall and Lincoln Center debuts. But what brings her to Portland is the unusual way she has chosen to build her career: playing benefits in high profile settings to benefit nonprofit arts and education organizations. While her New York appearances have introduced her to the likes of Bono, Julie Andrews, and a slew of movie stars, her Portland performance at the Gerding Theater will benefit Portland Piano International and the Portland Japanese Garden on its 50th anniversary. In tribute, Astanova will add "Sakura Sakura," a traditional Japanese folk piece, to her program of Scriabin, Liszt, Rachmaninoff, and Chopin. The night will start with a conversation between Japanese Garden CEO Steve Bloom and Astanova, and then Astanova's playing will be projected from the Gerding stage like in a stadium rock show, so that even the last row can see her fingers fly.
We’ve put together a slideshow of her style, as well as a number of videos of her virtuosic playing, below: