It’s the naked pianist… look away now

It’s the naked pianist… look away now


norman lebrecht

June 29, 2020

Every single word that follows is from the press release, just landed:



Mixed-race, openly gay, Stockport classical pianist Emmanuel (Manny) Vass, 31, continues to push boundaries and divide traditionalists with the release his third album, The Naked Pianist.
From stripping down to Union Jack boxers on ITV’s Britain’s Got Talent; being spotted by the pool chatting to fellow daters in his orange speedos on Channel 4’s First Dates Hotel, to featuring as a ClassicFM Young Classical Star, Manny continues to take risks shaking up the classical world.
The half Pakistani half Filipino Stockport resident, who has performed for global royalty including the Prince of Monaco on the most prestigious stages across the UK, funded The Naked Pianist with an Arts Council England grant, following on from his previous album,
which hit #1 in the UK specialist classical charts in 2015 after a 165% funded crowdfunding campaign.
“I have faced adversity and difficulties all my life” says Manny, “but that is precisely why it is so important for people of colour such as myself to proudly exist within traditionally white spaces. Classical music and redbrick Universities can and should be celebrated as diverse, innovative, and inclusive places”.


  • M McAlpine says:

    Oh yawn! Innovative? People have been taking their clothes off since Adam and Eve!

  • John Borstlap says:

    Diverse, innovative, inclusive! Yes, that’s what I always thought when seeing such players doing away with all those oldfashioned garments. Finally something to hold your interest at concerts!


  • The View from America says:


    … that would be the Manny Vass Self-Promotion Award.

  • Herr Doktor says:

    Tzimon Barto (a.k.a. Johnny Smith): The Next Generation

  • Everything old is new again; you can’t do anything unique, because it’s been done before.
    When awarded the Vienna Beethoven Ring in 1969, Friedrich Gulda rejected it with grand gesture, one incident of many in a long and tortuous relationship with his home town. He played Mozart in Vienna’s holy of holies, the Musik- verein, tapping along with his feet. On another occasion, he and his girlfriend appeared on stage naked for a rendition of Schumann songs on the recorder.

  • Nik says:

    Does he realise that Jamie Oliver used the term metaphorically?

  • Enquiring Mind says:

    Just another person who wants special recognition for his/her/their race or sexual orientation. But at least this one is at least fit.

  • It can work when the performer is fit but i think we were all relieved when Horowitz stopped performing naked.

    Note to radio announcers: Be sure enunciate the “t” in “pianist” when discussing this performer.

  • Classicmusic says:

    cheap cheap cheap cheap cheap

  • Ken says:

    Er, that may be all well and good — but do you really have to proudly split an infinitive in the process?

  • Andrew says:

    “funded The Naked Pianist with an Arts Council England grant” Where are the cuts when you need them?

  • b hutchinson says:

    “diversity and inclusion….diversity and inclusion….diversity and inclusion….diversity and inclusion…diversity and inclusion”
    Now everybody repeat, and make sure you rock your body back and forth as you do so. The new religion takes hold!

    It would be fun to see how many documents come out of institutions these days that DON’T include the mantra above. There will soon be a hectoring spell-check paperclip that appears on your screen if you click “send” without including “diversity and inclusion” in the text of your email.

    • Sue Sonata Form says:

      You left out “equity”. I’d like to include “talent”, but hey… the parrots would find it too difficult to recite.

    • David says:

      There is a reason why diversity and inclusion are finally on the forefront of political debate and permeating the social fabric. It is the culmination of the pursuit of modern democratic liberalism, which humans have been working on for 400 years. Equating this to a mindless religious mantra illustrates your complete lack of understanding of history, not to mention your petty nature that appears to prefer exclusion and homogeneity, which, of course, were values embodied by many fascist states. We had hoped we learned from such mistakes but alas, here we are 🙂

  • David K. Nelson says:

    All very well and good but at some point you have to play the piano great to be a great pianist.

    Having seen the fare at most post-concert receptions, the visual evidence suggests he has avoided those.

  • E. says:


  • AndyHat says:

    All those words, and they can’t tell us what he actually plays on the disc? I assume it’s Bach, but what?

    • Brettermeier says:

      The well-endowed piano.

    • V.Lind says:

      From The Pianist: “I’m really looking forward to releasing The Naked Pianist as you can hear me playing classics by Beethoven and Debussy, alongside more virtuoso repertoire by Rachmaninov and Chopin, plus my own original compositions which I’m sure Pianist readers will love.”

      There are four words in a row in there that fill me with sufficient dread that guarantee I will never go near this disc (it was never very likely anyway). I’m sure you know what they are; they contain a tautology.

      Strike three (the first one counts for two) is his label, E. Vass Records. Wonderful what an Arts Council grant will fund.

  • Pianofortissimo says:

    What comes next? Simultaneous piano playing and twerking?

  • Dave M says:

    Good on him. Album covers for almost all classical genre releases are so pedestrian and beige.

  • CLilley says:

    He’s got my attention… wow.

  • Frederick says:

    Anyone who heard his performance of the Schumann piano concerto in Scarborough will understand why he needs to attract attention by stripping .

  • Peter San Diego says:

    He clearly wants people to concentrate only on the music, without the distraction of his attire. … Who knows, Lola Astanova might follow, umm, suit.

  • David A. Boxwell says:

    What was he wearing when he recorded this disc?

  • We privatize your value says:

    Would that it was Khatia Buniatishvili and not that (or any) bloke!

  • The Naked Critic says:

    The boy is delusional and misguided. His keyboard skills & musicianship are mediocre. And what does a gym-toned body have to do with being a pianist? He might have a future as a hustler, stripper, or gigolo, but that’s about it.

  • Sue Sonata Form says:

    Sigh. Another tired old trope of identitarianism.

    • V.Lind says:

      Why? Artists are identified as English, or Scottish, or American, or French. Why is Pakistani-Filipino to be sneered at?

  • Alviano says:

    He has a nice smile.

  • Jaspers John says:

    What an idiot.

  • christopher storey says:

    It used to be known as indecent exposure …..

  • Cubs Fan says:

    He’s too late: his image would fit right in with those Wagner-for-Orchestra cds that Edo de Waart made for RCA 30 years ago or so. If you don’t know what this means, google it. I can’t post an image.

  • MWnyc says:

    There doesn’t appear to be any actual nudity involved, I’m afraid.

  • Joe from Manchester says:

    Say what you like about his talent (provided you’ve listened to him play) or classical crossover stuff more generally, but please, can some of you stop with the microaggressions? These are basically smaller-scale behaviours, attitudes and remarks that contain hints of stereotype and prejudice (this article describes them well and how they can be unintentional and semi-innate: I’m a gay man and I’ve personally experienced forms of them; they’re naturally not as horrific as violent attacks, but they’re still irritating. I think that the comments mocking “diversity and inclusion” (along with aspects of the original post, arguably) are pretty good illustrations of microaggressions. You’re entitled to your opinions, but I think it’s worth imagining things through the eyes of someone who is a minority and/or from a less affluent background in what is ultimately a society that is still largely tailored to the needs and interests of white, straight, middle/upper-class people (and largely men at that).

    As someone for whom classical music is more of a personal passion (I have few friends who are very keen on it), I think that these sorts of elitist attitudes are pretty off-putting to a lot of people, and it isn’t going to help the classical music industry thrive or prosper in the modern world.

    • Paul Brownsey says:

      ” I think that the comments mocking “diversity and inclusion” (along with aspects of the original post, arguably) are pretty good illustrations of microaggressions. ”

      Hmmm. Or could they be irritating because they exemplify a tendency towards catchphrases and slogans that can be substitutes for what really enables people to function free of prejudice, and which can generate ill-thought-out policies and practices that make some people’s situations worse, e.g. being punished at work for ‘liking’ a tweet even though their Twitter account makes no mention of their workplace?

  • violin accordion says:

    But is he VWE ?

  • Bruce says:

    Maybe he can team up with The Shirtless Violinist for a recital tour…