The image of [Richard Kastle] glaring out from the cover of his new "Streetwise" album, looking tough and anti-Establishment in spiked hair and a sleeveless leather jacket, seems hardly enough to separate him from scores of other leather-clad recording artists, all vying for record buyer attention this year. Except, that is, for a warning label that reads, "Parental Advisory: This album contains classical music, no lyrics whatsoever."
Further investigation shows track titles by the likes of Beethoven, Bach, Mozart, Liszt and Gershwin among other compositions written by Kastle himself, a classically trained pianist. The Venice musician's debut album is also part of a larger scheme by Virgin Records' new Virgin Variations label to seek out and develop a new and younger audience for classical music.
It was Kastle's refusal to dress formally for concerts that ultimately got him expelled from the music program at the University of Texas before graduation, he said. During his first performance there, Kastle appeared in old blue jeans, paint-stained sneakers and a torn Jack Daniels T-shirt. Kastle had merely been following a tradition set by the lives of the composers Beethoven and Mozart, who were "radical guys" in their own time, he said.