14 April 2020
By Ellie Palmer
Shows are cancelled and international flights are a no-go... So how are our favourite professional pianists coping with it all?
What has life been like, stuck inside, for one of the world’s most followed pianists? We talk to Lola Astanova, the cover star of issue 111 of Pianist, about how she has been keeping herself busy and how the COVID-19 crisis has affected her career. Plus, she gives some tips for those of you who are spending your time practising…
First of all, we have to ask: how are you?
Thank you, as good as one can be under the circumstances.
How have you been keeping yourself busy?
With the exception of live events, which have all been postponed, my life hasn’t changed too much as I spend most of my days in my home studio.
© Nancy Ellison/Polaris
Any specific pieces you’ve decided to learn during your time inside?
I’m putting together the music and visual elements for my new live show, so the majority of my time is spent thinking about and creating original new material.
Listen to her original piece, 'Inspirit', below.
Have you had to cancel a lot of shows? Will you be performing any of them online instead?
Everything through August has been cancelled or is up in the air. The internet has, of course, remained a great way to keep in touch with all the fans, and the quarantine has made our social media “family” closer than ever, as we all support each other in this surreal time.
And while I haven’t yet done a full-scale online concert, it is something that’s going to happen. I want it to be something special.
Lola Astanova performing at Carnegie Hall, New York City. © Gregory Partanio
We’ve seen so many videos online of people who have decided to start learning the piano during isolation. If you could give ONE piece of advice to these beginner pianists, what would it be?
It’s hard to give a “one-fits-all” advice because every person will face her or his own unique challenges. But the one thing that is paramount to one’s ability to play is the correct hand positioning.
Sounds simple enough, but too many people neglect it and cut corners because these are not the most exciting exercises to do. As a result, they develop incorrect basics and when down the road they come to more challenging compositions, they are confronted with severe technical limitations, so much so that some pieces may be completely beyond their reach.
At that point, it is very hard to go back and fix the problems, so I highly recommend investing the necessary time and developing the correct basics from the get-go.
Watch our video on the basics of hand positioning below.
We hear you may be releasing a new single soon. What can you tell us about it?
Yes, and it is very exciting because I’m finally crossing over to the “dark side” (laughs) and releasing a track that infuses a classic with a newfound pulse, excitement and sound. The track is titled “Elise Was Here”, and I hope that fans of both classical/crossover and electronic music will love it and will come on this journey with me.
Main image: © Lola Astanova