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    Lola Astanova

    EXCLUSIVE: Pianist Lola Astanova Says WH Concert Broke Ice Between US, Russia

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    Classical musician Lola Astanova performed on the South Lawn of the White House for the Independence Day celebration. The televised event was attended by over one thousand military families, with an additional five thousand people invited for the fireworks display.

    Apart from Astanova, the event also featured singer-songwriter Sara Evans and former American Idol finalists Jonny Brenns and Jax.

    Sputnik: You have just performed at the White House for the Independence Day celebration, how do you feel about being invited to such an important event?

    Lola Astanova: Imagine being a first generation American and being invited to perform the national anthem at the most important celebration of the year, which means so much for so many people. It's obviously a great honor and I am humbled by it. I feel like it's being a part of a great tradition.

     Lola Astanova
    © Photo :
    Lola Astanova

    Sputnik: President Donald Trump is a controversial figure in the US and many A-listers have turned down the opportunity to perform. Why did you agree to do it?

    Lola Astanova: I think we tend to forget that there are 300 million other people who also live in this country and for whom this day is very important. In fact, you may say that this is the only day when we put aside our differences and actually celebrate what unites us and the history of this country. This tradition is bigger than any one president. Traditionally the president hosts military families on this day at the White House and these are the people that sacrificed so much for this country and that's why I agreed to do this.

    Sputnik: What reactions have you received on social media after performing on July 4th?

    Lola Astanova: Overwhelmingly positive. I think most people understand that it's a huge honor to perform at the White House, no matter who the president is.

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    Sputnik: Many musicians and artists have criticized media for politicizing music; what are your personal feelings on this matter?

    Lola Astanova: I understand politics is important because it concerns everybody and the people and the media spend an enormous amount of time talking about it, and it's understandable. However, there're millions of people who live in America, in Russia, in other countries, whose lives, both professional and personal, are important to them and it's not limited by politics. For a musician, I spend the majority of my time writing and performing music for people and hopefully I'm bringing something pleasant and valuable into their lives and that's my focus.

    Sputnik: Your performance comes at a critical time for US-Russia relations. How significant was it for you, as a representative of Russia's classical piano school, to perform at the White House on Independence Day?

    Lola Astanova: It's interesting that you're asking this question. As I was at the White House I thought about the historic meeting of President Reagan and General Secretary Gorbachev, when Van Cliburn performed for them in the late 1980s and he performed Moscow Nights. I think it was a pivotal moment, a historic moment, that in many ways broke the ice between the two countries and it actually emphasized that we are a lot closer as human beings than we thought, that there's more that connects us than separates us and I think that's the power of music. If I'm able in a small way to show this in our day and age that being an artist who belongs to two great cultures, then I'm happy.

    READ MORE: Russian Cultural Center Marks Day of Family With Concert of US Pianist

    Sputnik: In your view, can music actually be stronger than politics in bringing people together?

    Lola Astanova: Yes, absolutely. Music is the only true universal language. I have fans from the US to Russia, to Iran, to Argentina and these are people of different backgrounds, different beliefs and oftentimes music is the one thing that draws bridges and connects us.

    Sputnik: We've also heard that you released a version of the song "We are the Champions" for the closing of the FIFA World Cup. Can you tell us a bit more about the composition?

    Lola Astanova: It's a passion project. I'm a huge fan of the band Queen and Freddie Mercury. I did a piano edition of this song because I just sat down by the piano and wrote it and I had to. I posted it on my Instagram and so many people have asked for me to do a full version. Right now, with the World Cup happening, I think the timing is great to revisit this song and kind of relive the emotions that it brings about. It's on YouTube and people really seem to love it.

    Sputnik: What can we expect from you and your music in the near future?

    Lola Astanova: I'm working on several interesting collaborations with different artists and different genres, which hopefully will be exciting for people to see, and I also spend my time working on a solo project that combines classical and electronical influences.

    Sputnik: Are they from the US or from Russia?

    Lola Astanova: Different, some are from Europe, others from the US. I can't reveal too much yet, but I think it might be unexpected and hopefully the fans will love it; we just have to wait a little longer. I promise it'll be something exciting.

    The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the speaker and do not necessarily reflect Sputnik's position.

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    pianist, classical music, music, Independence Day, Lola Astanova, Donald Trump, Washington, United States, Russia
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