A Bio Worth Listening To
Writing an artist bio is a thankless task. You have to list the subject's accomplishments, offer a brief history of their life and study, and maybe include an inspiring quote or two from the artist themselves. Usually, they're given a cursory read while you're waiting for a concert to begin, or maybe glanced at on a website. But in the age of Wikipedia, maybe it's time to spice up the artist bio. In fact, why not go for broke? That's apparently what French journalist Olivier Bellamy did for pianist Khatia Buniatishvili.
The Georgian-born Buniatishvili has recorded four albums for Sony Classical; her most recent is "Kaleidoscope," featuring music by Maurice Ravel, Igor Stravinsky, and Modest Mussorgsky's monster solo workout, "Pictures at an Exhibition." That last work received mixed reviews at a concert by Buniatishvili in 2015. The Guardian doubted whether she would ever be a "serious artist," but the Evening Standard awarded five stars to her performance. Buniatishvili herself responded to the Guardian review on Twitter here.
So--back to Bellamy's bio of Buniatishvili. It's not every day that you read a biography of a pianist that compares her arms to those of an octopus, and her playing to the act of pollination.
I would invite you to read it for yourself, but let's take it further.
Matt Marks, a composer and performer with the Manhattan-based contemporary music ensemble Alarm Will Sound, posted this dramatic reading of Buniatishvili's bio on SoundCloud, set to the music of John Williams.
Reading the bio made my day. Hearing it just about made my head explode. To be honest, I wish more artists would take it to this level. There's a certain gonzo quality to it that blows other bio sketches out of the water with its sheer over-the-topness.
But in fairness to Ms. Buniatishvili, we'll give her the final music word. Enjoy one of her concert appearances in the video below.