2- The investigation


Around November 20, 2014, while "Pandora Selfridge" was officially working on her work for clarinet and piano and on my Glamour Concerto, for solo piano, I discovered on YouTube the video of a Japanese pianist named reitrcpiano, who is herself a very, very curious person because she never shows her head and she never tells her name. She seems to be more a creation for marketing brands of clothes and shoes than a real person. Obviously her videos are focused on the fetishism of the feet and high heels. Curiously the title of her video is B minor Walz and not Waltz in B minor (which would be correct).

This video from reitrcpiano dates from April 2011. "Pandora Selfridge" had uploaded the same video two years later, with the correct title « Own composition : Waltz in B minor ». So I wondered : Is "Pandora Selfridge" also reitrcpiano ?

I discovered that reitrcpiano (YouTube channel created in February 2011) was derived from a YouTube channel reitrc created in April 2009. As reitrc is supposed to be a young Japanese woman and she doesn’t seem to be a concert pianist, I deduced that "Pandora Selfridge" had stolen the music and video of reitrcpiano.

So I began some searches in order to know more things about "Pandora Selfridge". I discovered that the photo of her recital where she premiered her Three Dramatic Études, for piano (cf. above) came actually from a set of photos from the website istock :




Two other photos from the istock set :


    

    

I continued my searches about all her other photos : actually all the photos showing "Pandora Selfridge" were not "Pandora Selfridge" !!!


Some of "Pandora Selfridge’s" photos were actually (slightly anamorphosed) hyperrealistic paintings by the painter Rob Hefferan :


    


Original paintings (with the signature of the painter) :


    

Source : http://www.robhefferan.net/GalleriesElegance004.html


    Concerning the main pictures showing "Pandora Selfridge" close to a white piano (cf. below), an American girl friend, who is a model, helped me to discover the truth and wrote on December 9, 2014 :


« Concerning the photos supposedly showing Pandora Selfridge, I contacted many of my acquaintances and "informants" at TheFashionSpot... and I conducted my own little investigation to know who is the real model on these photos. It turned out that these photos are taken from a set of about twenty commercial photos realized as part of an advertising campaign for the Internet brand "Modatoi", specialized in women’s dresses, shoes and cheap jewelery. I checked them and obviously the faker simply cut the extreme right part of the image where there was the logo. These images are no longer available on Modatoi’s website, as they date from early 2012.

The indicative numbers of these photos are respectively : E2110, E2111, E2112, E2113, E2118, E2123, E2124, E2127, E2137, E2138, E2140, as well as P5010 and P5040. It’s likely that the set also included E2114, E2115, E2139 and so on although I didn’t manage to find them. »


Example :

    

    

       "Pandora Selfridge concert pianist"                      Original with the logo « Modatoi.com »

                        (at the bottom right corner)


Modatoi.com, a French brand, didn’t want to give me the name of the model nor the name of the photographer, in spite of two e-mails I wrote them :


« Je suis au regret de vous informer que la Direction ne souhaite pas fournir ces informations confidentielles. »

(which means : « I regret to inform you that management does not wish to provide this confidential information. »)


Then I carefully studied "Pandora Selfridge’s" Curriculum Vitae :


« Pandora Selfridge was born on May 1, 1994 in Mobile, Alabama (USA). She began playing the piano at the age of three and by the age of five, her parents had enrolled her in a piano class in a small county conservatory. She quickly progressed and her teacher urged her to pursue the course at the Mobile Music School.

In 2008, she won the Alabama Young Pianist Award, a showcase for performers no older than age fifteen. She then studied at the Montgomery State University, Department of Music, in particular with pianist Jennifer Elden, while continuing her high school studies. During this time, she increased her recital appearances, at first for local events. Then in 2009, she premiered her own personal composition, « Romantic Poem ».

In 2011 at age seventeen, she brilliantly graduated with her high school diploma. Subsequently, she was selected to be one of the fifty "Azalea Trail Maids" for the year 2011-2012, making appearances at many local, state, and even national events.

Also in 2011, she won the 2nd prize in the 16-18 category at the prestigious Bosendorfer and Yamaha USASU International Piano Competition, held biannually at the Katherine K. Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts. And in 2013 she has been a medalist at the Hilton Head International Piano Competition. She also attended several master classes of concert pianists Sylvia Constantinidis and Stephen Beus.

Pandora has given many successful recitals for various regional events including a performance of

Mozart’s 23rd Concerto with the Alabama Symphony Orchestra. During a concert in December 2013,

she received a standing ovation when she premiered one of her own personal compositions, the « Three Dramatic Études » for piano. This work remains her larger-scaled composition to date and she frequently performs it to end her concerts with a flourish...

The bimonthly magazine Fanfare interviewed Pandora for their January/February 2014 issue. They wrote : « With her outstanding technique, her high sensitivity, and her distinguished dress style, this young pianist has a fantastic career ahead of her ! And we can already predict she will be one of the talks of the classical music world before long. »

In September 2014 Pandora became a "permanently featured artist" on the classical musical website Real Piano Music. And in October of that same year the famous Swiss newspapers "Tages Anzeiger" and "Berner Zeitung" devoted an article to her (in German).

Pandora's original piano works include a sonata « Three Dramatic Études », a « Romantic Poem » and a « Waltz in B minor ». Videos of her performances, available on her YouTube channel, grow increasingly popular. »


This biography is pure fiction. There’s no « Mobile Music School ». There’s no « Alabama Young Pianist Award ». Concerning the two competitions she won (Bösendorfer and Yamaha USASU International Piano Competition and Hilton Head International Piano Competition), her name is not mentioned on the official websites. But on the Wikipedia articles, her name was mentioned ! The histories of both Wikipedia articles show that, in the beginning, these two Wikipedia articles didn’t include any list of winners. On August 8, 2014 the faker (under the Wikipedist pseudonym ClassicMusic33) added a list of all the winners, in which he put the name Pandora Selfridge. The truth now has been restored in both cases on Wikipedia (by myself in the case of the Hilton Head, on November 28, 2014).



Bösendorfer and Yamaha USASU International Piano Competition


What the faker did (on August 8, 2014) :



"Pandora Selfridge" is falsely listed as winning 2nd prize in 2011.


Real results (excerpts) :




Hilton Head International Piano Competition


What the faker did (on August 8, 2014) :



"Pandora Selfridge" is falsely listed as winning 6th prize in 2013.


Real results (excerpts) :




I also discovered that the name "Pandora Selfridge" was a kind of private joke. The mysterious Japanese pianist reitrc, who never shows her face (cf. above), is linked to the selling of clothes for young girls :


                       

                    http://reitrc.blog27.fc2.com/blog-entry-99.html 


Two brands are often present in reitrc’s fashion world : « Pandora » and « Miss Selfridge ». « Miss Selfridge » is famous especially for its high-heeled shoes :


http://blog.missselfridge.com/weblog/2011/10/tulisa-shows-off-her-luscious-legs-in-our-pretty-peter-pan-style-dress.html


In "Pandora Selfridge’s" website, a false interview supposedly realized by « Fanfare Magazine » in January/February 2014 called her « Miss Pandora Selfridge » and of course it asked several questions about her high-heeled shoes :





I was puzzled by another thing on her Flickr page : there were, of course, many photos of "Pandora Selfridge", but also, among them, some pictures from the movie Avatar (2009). At first, I guessed she just liked this movie, but as I was beginning to understand the « logic » and the sense of humor of "Pandora Selfridge’s" creator, I eventually discovered that in the movie, the creator of the planet « Pandora » is named « Parker Selfridge » :



It’s indicated : Parker Selfridge, Head Administrator of the Pandora Division ("Avatar", 2009)


There was another important question : who were the performers of the more than 30 YouTube videos uploaded by "Pandora Selfridge". By watching them, one after the other, I understood that these videos had been stolen from more than 30 different pianists, including several Japanese ones. The pianists were often young girls, but sometimes they were young women of around 30 years old. The  creator made sure, firstly, that nobody was able to see their faces (some videos had probably been cropped in order not to see the head ; fortunately for the creator, many of the videos were filmed sideways, to show mainly the pianist’s hands) and, secondly, that on each video the pianist wears high-heeled shoes.

The only video that really showed "Pandora Selfridge’s" face was the one of a young girl aged c. 14 years old. "Pandora Selfridge" was supposedly performing her own composition Romantic Poem, which dates from 2009 :


"Pandora Selfridge’s" Romantic Poem


But by watching her hands closely, I discovered that the young girl of the video is not playing the work that is heard.

After the publication of this article (on March 2, 2015), Richard Waterman, of the website RealPianoMusic.com, gave me a correspondence he has had with "Pandora Selfridge" :

On October 9, 2014 Richard Waterman sent this e-mail to "Pandora Selfridge" :


« Hi Pandora,

I saw your videos online and I'd like to feature you on my website www.realpianomusic.com and our Facebook page at www.facebook.com/realpianomusic.
I love your original compositions, Romantic Poem and the Three Dramatic Études. I have a question before I proceed....
As a pianist myself, it's obvious that in your Romantic Poem video, the girl playing the piano is not playing the same piece of music that is coming through the audio. It's not even close. In fact, I'm not sure it's the same girl as you, though there is a resemblance.
The music is lovely, I'm just wondering if you dubbed it into another video of you playing something else ? The video of your hands playing doesn't match the music is the point. I'm surprised no one else pointed that out in the comments. »


       And on October 10, 2014 "Pandora Selfridge" answered :


« Hello Richard,

Thank you for your very nice proposal. I gladly accept my compositions to be included in your great website and Facebook page.
Yes, of course the "girl playing the piano" in the video of the
Romantic Poem is myself (a younger myself back in 2009). But you’re absolutely right – here’s the whole story : the technician who had to record and film the concert has unfortunately failed to film the first part of the concert, where I performed my Romantic Poem. He then solved the problem during the short intermission and so he has been able to film only the second part of this concert, during which I played some other works (works that I have played better since).

When four years later, in 2013, I created my YouTube channel and I wanted to upload my Romantic Poem, I compared all the recordings I’ve done of this work, and the one from 2009 appeared to be the best, having been performed right after the composition of the work... So I decided to upload this one, even with just the sound and no video. But several friends told me that it would be far more viewed with sound and video : that’s why they suggested me to upload the sound of the Romantic Poem with the video of some extracts of the second part of the concert which has been filmed. And they assumed nobody will discover the trick.

And it seems their idea was rather good, since my music has been listened and appreciated by more than 3,000 persons, and obviously nobody, before you, never noticed the trick (which also surprise me by the way :-) Now you know the whole story...

So you can already put my Three Dramatic Études on your website and Facebook page, and, concerning my Romantic Poem, I suggest you to put only the audio ; or, if you are interested, I can do a video with the sound and the synchronized sheet music of this work (since I accept to divulgate this score, unlike the one of my Three Dramatic Études I keep for my own use). Just tell me...

Thank you once again,

Pandora »

            And Richard Waterman told me (on March 5, 2015) :


« Another fact that led me to choose to believe that Pandora was real was that I actually researched some of the Awards that she claimed and I in fact saw her name on Wikipedia, so again, I chose to believe her because I couldn't imagine at the time that anyone would be so brazen, but with your help, I've since learned otherwise. »


Alas, I haven’t been able to discover the original videos of all the uploads of "Pandora Selfridge". Nonetheless, concerning the video titled : « William Lloyd Webber’s Romantic Evening » (whose video cover was just a static photo of "Pandora Selfridge" close to the white piano, not a video), I’ve been able to find that the performance was the one of the concert pianist John Lill (born in 1944). I haven’t had the time to do any searches concerning the one or two other videos with static images as video cover, but they may have been taken from the recordings of other famous pianists.


Here’s the list of all the works that "Pandora Selfridge" was supposed to have recorded for her YouTube videos :


Johann Sebastian Bach :

- Chaconne for solo violin, arranged for piano by Ferruccio Busoni 

- Sarabande from French Suite n°5 in G major, BWV 816

Ludwig van Beethoven :

Piano Sonata No. 2 in A major, op. 2 n°2

Lili Boulanger

- D’un Vieux Jardin

Frederic Chopin

- Etude n°11 from 12 Etudes, op. 10

- Fantasie-Impromptu in C sharp minor, op. 66

Claude Debussy

L’Isle joyeuse

Miriam Hyde

- Woodland Sketch

Charles Ives

- Piano Sonata No. 2 « Concord Sonata »

Leoš Janáček

- Piano Sonata

Aram Khachaturian

- Toccata in E-flat minor

Ernesto Lecuona

- Malagueña 

Franz Liszt

- Un Sospiro 

William Lloyd Webber

- Romantic Evening 

Fanny Mendelssohn

- Andante soave 

Felix Mendelssonh

- Song Without Words, op. 38 n°2 

Astor Piazzolla

- Libertango 

Sergei Prokofiev

- Dance of the Knights/Montagues and Capulets

- Piano Sonata No. 7

Sergei Rachmaninoff

- Prelude, op. 23 n°4 

Ottorino Respighi

- Intermezzo-Serenata 

Franz Schubert

- Piano Sonata No. 16 

- Impromptu No. 3 from the Four Impromptus, op. 90  

Robert Schumann

- Piano Sonata No. 2 (« with the original finale » as indicated by "Pandora Selfridge")

Alexander Scriabin

- Etude in F sharp minor, op. 8 n°2 

- Prelude in E-flat minor, op. 11 n°14 

Pandora Selfridge

- Romantic Poem (2009)

- Waltz in B minor (2012)

- Three Dramatic Études (Piano Sonata No. 1) (2013)

Pyotr Tchaikovsky

- Tendres reproches, 3rd of the 18 Pieces for piano, op. 72 

Yann Tiersen 

- Comptine d’un autre été, from the film score to Le Fabuleux Destin d’Amélie Poulain (2001)


And here’s the complete list of the works (from her website) that she was supposed to have performed during her recitals (as you can see, because of an announcement, Lecuona’s Malagueña is missing on this Pdf) :






So I was absolutely convinced that "Pandora Selfridge" was purely a fake. On November 27, 2014, I wrote to the creator, via "Pandora Selfridge’s" e-mail, to destroy his creation : « I admire your mind, your intelligence and your sense of humor. But a fake stays a fake. It will finish badly, as every fake does. […] The friendship and the artistic interest you have toward me flatter me a lot. I know you’re understanding me and that I’m acting in your own interest, as well as in mine. »

The same day, the creator destroyed all "Pandora Selfridge’s" Internet pages and videos. He wrote me only three words : « It’s done ». As a gift, he gave me a link to the audio files of the last composition by "Pandora Selfridge" : her Sonata for Clarinet and Piano written in the style of my ballade From Midnight to Dawn (2014) :


« So your delicate ballade for saxophone and piano can really be a source of inspiration :-) »

(4 October 2014)


I also decided to send an e-mail to the four young composers with whom I was in correspondence for a long time and who had commented on "Pandora Selfridge’s" compositions. I also contacted Richard Waterman, of the Internet website RealPianoMusic.com, who had made "Pandora Selfridge" a « permanently featured artist » as well as the journalist Susanne Kübler of the Tages-Anzeiger and the Berner Zeitung, who published an article about her (cf. above).

One of the four composers considered it appropriate to answer me : « I knew there was something not quite right about "Pandora Selfridge"» Richard Waterman immediately deleted his page and thanked me.

In the first version of my article (March 2, 2015), I wrote : « If somebody knows how to contact the journalist Susanne Kübler who wrote an article, he should ask her if she discovered "Pandora Selfridge" by herself or if someone suggested she write this article. My efforts to contact her have been unsuccessful… »

On March 8, 2015 the Swiss writer Telemachos Hatziisaak contacted me and proposed me to contact the journalist Susanne Kübler. I accepted his proposition on March 9 in the evening. The next day in the morning I got a response of Susanne Kübler who wrote me :


« Das ist ja eine spannende Geschichte um „Pandora Selfridge“… Ich wurde von einem Lehrer der Zürcher Hochschule der Künste auf ihre Videos aufmerksam gemacht. Offenbar kursierten sie in Musikerkreisen – als neuste Absurdität in einer durchaus realen Entwicklung (auch manche echte – und durchaus sehr gute – Pianistinnen setzen ja auf wenig Stoff und hohe Absätze). Interessant wäre es zu wissen, wer hinter dem Fake steckt, aber das ist wohl schwer herauszufinden. »


I asked Telemachos Hatziisaak to translate this e-mail :


« It is an exciting story about “Pandora Selfridge”. A professor from the Zurich University of the Arts drew my attention to her videos. Apparently they circulated among the musician’s environment – as the latest absurdity in a thoroughly real development (even some real – and by all means very good – female pianists turn to short dresses and high heels). It would be interesting to know who is behind the fake, but this is probably hard to discover. »

 

The same day (March 10) Telemachos Hatziisaak wrote me :


« My boys (twins, 14 years old) have “shazamed” the “Romantic Poem” and found in the internet a piece called “Romantic Air”, which to my opinion resembles the “Romantic Poem” very much. It is taken from an instrumental album called “Romantic Music – Chamonix”, with 33 titles. The only strange thing about it : It was released the 2nd March 2015 ! The music is available on itunes. Maybe this can help your search for the composer. »


      It’s indeed the same piece for piano and the same performance. This double CD, edited on March 2, 2015 is obviously a "pirate" edition available on iTunes, Amazon and Spotify :













Cover of the double CD

« Chamonix Romantic Music » (2015)


    

      The track 17, titled Romantic Air (5.42), is the Romantic Poem (5.42). Amazon indicates : Album MP3


Original Release Date : March 2, 2015

Label : Chamonix

Copyright : © 2015 Chamonix

Total Length : 2:33:33

Genres : Miscellaneous

ASIN : B00U9S3ILQ


Of course this CD doesn’t mention the names of the composers nor the names of the performers. Has "Pandora Selfridge’s" Romantic Poem been pirated ? Or is "Pandora Selfridge’s" creator also behind this pirate CD ?

I immediately downloaded the software "shazam" and tested it on the Three Dramatic Études and the Sonata for Clarinet and Piano, but no results (in contrast I’ve been able to discover the title and the composer of an old piece for piano and orchestra whose I didn’t know anything :-)

      If someone can discover something about this suspect CD « Chamonix Romantic Music », please tell me.




     3- No conclusion, but reflections


At this point, everybody will ask THE question : who is hidden behind "Pandora Selfridge concert pianist" ? As "Pandora Selfridge’s" e-mail address was on gmail, her e-mail isn’t traceable. And as "Pandora Selfridge" used Mediafire to send me audio files, the original source of these recordings also is not traceable.

Finally I’ve no proof, only clues. Here’s my opinion :

- The creator is someone who is very serious, and obviously he has a deep knowledge of the classical piano world (cf. his modifications of the two Wikipedia articles about the international piano competitions).

- The creator is probably European because "Pandora Selfridge’s" Repertory shows "Europe-oriented" musical tastes. If somebody knows how to contact the journalist Susanne Kübler who wrote an article, he should ask her if she discovered "Pandora Selfridge" by herself or if someone suggested she write this article. My efforts to contact her have been unsuccessful…

- I also think that the creator must be a fashion photographer because I noticed that all "Pandora Selfridge’s" photos (even the ones which are casual) are in very high resolution, often even better than the « original » photos I discovered on the web.


  Two examples :


    
        

        "Pandora Piano Passion"                           « Model is Laura K and photo was taken

              (284 337 octets)                      at studio 1425 in Denver » (198 201 octets)



    
    

"Pandora Selfridge’s" photo       The "original" one found on the web     The first one, which is neither

« With My Friends » (c. 2013)         (uploaded on August 29, 2003)                  cropped nor tagged

          (2 202 483 octets)            (220 327 octets)                    March 3, 2005  (29 153 octets)


("Pandora Selfridge" was supposed to be the young girl with high-heeled shoes in the foreground.)


Concerning "Pandora Selfridge’s" compositional style :


• Her three works seem to have been composed by the same (good) composer. He did advanced studies at a Conservatory. Personally, I think the composer is rather old. Technically, his works are very well written and very well structured (sonata form). If I’m right, he chose to write in a modern, Polar/Thriller style (a cinematographic idiom that appeared in the 1990s) because "Pandora Selfridge" was said to be born in 1994.

• The pianist(s) who performed these works is/are excellent.

• If the creator has composed these three works, he must also work in the field of classical music since he seems to have worked with a clarinetist for the Sonata for Clarinet and Piano.

• Furthermore he must also have a professional studio because his sound recordings are very good. It’s not for sure they are live performances. The faker may have added a slight background noise and final applauses.

Of course, it’s possible that the creator has simply stolen the works from a composer. Via the Internet, I asked several music lovers if they had an idea about the identity of the composer, but alas there has been no answer. I just uploaded the three works on collectionCB4. I hope that someone will be able to discover who is the composer of :


- Romantic Poem, for piano (2009 or 2013, date of the video)


- Three Dramatic Études, for piano (Piano Sonata No. 1) (2013, date of the video)


- Sonata for Clarinet and Piano (2014, date when I received the audio file)


collectionCB4 link : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JNHu52iy78s




Epilogue


On January 4, 2015 I sent to "Pandora Selfridge" my good wishes for an « authentic » New Year 2015.

On January 24th, my 20th birthday, I received an e-mail from "Pandora Selfridge". Only three words : « Happy Birthday Corentin ! ».


I composed the concert piece for piano Pandora’s Box to her Memory :





I thank Dr Allan B. Ho, musicologist at Southern Illinois University

Edwardsville (SIUE), for having corrected and enhanced my English.


  Corentin Boissier

March 2, 2015, Paris

Augmented version : March 7, 2015

Augmented version 2 : March 12, 2015

http://www.corentinboissier.net