Much has been written about how classical music has taken to the internet like a fish to water. That may be true – but it seems that some of the fish are better swimmers than others.
I know this because I spent an entire afternoon looking up prominent Canadian performers, to see who's got a website and who's got a good website. The first thing I found when I started Googling our nation's foremost classical soloists and chamber groups is that most of these artists are well promoted on their managers' websites. That sort of initiative has its place, to be sure – but what I was really looking for were websites created by (or at least apparently created by) the musicians themselves.
I found a few. And I soon discovered that certain features are pretty much "de rigueur" on musicians' websites these days. Most have calendars, so you can see when and where they'll be performing. Most include a lists of recordings – and some have click-through buttons that make direct purchasing possible. As well, there are biographies, publicity photos, reviews (only the favourable ones, of course!), repertoire lists and a few other standard items that make one site look pretty much like any other.
But some had additional features that raised them above the run-of-the mill sites. Sound clips are an obvious idea, adding a new dimension to the site. The better sites have them – yet many sites don't contain a note of music. And some websites had more of a personal touch than others: essays, blogs and photo galleries that give an impression of the musician as a whole human being.
Of the few dozen sites I looked at, the best I found was pianist Louis Lortie's. Not only does he have sound and video clips of live performances, but he also offers interesting commentary on his interpretations. As well, tenor Ben Heppner has a slick site with sound-clips and a free newsletter for anyone who asks for it. And for "personality content," it would be hard to beat violinist Lara St. John's site.
Have I missed some others that are worthy of mention? I expect I have – so perhaps WholeNote readers would care to point out some other fine musicians' websites, and to say what makes them special.