July 3, 2014 - 9:30 pm
With his charismatic stage presence, passionate playing and astounding technique, Lang Lang has been hailed by The New York Times as the “hottest artist on the classical music planet”. A showman as much as an artist, this superstar pianist has played sold-out concerts in every major city around the globe. Accompanied by the Lebanese Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Maestro Darrell Ang, Lang Lang will perform Rachmaninov’s Piano Concerto no.2 as well as a selection of solo pieces by Chopin among others. His first concert in Lebanon is undoubtedly a historical date for music lovers!
If one word applies to Lang Lang, to the musician, to the man, to his worldview, to those who come into contact with him, it is “inspiration”. It resounds like a musical motif through his life and career. He inspires millions of people with open-hearted, emotive playing, whether it be in intimate recitals or on worldwide stages – such as the 56th GRAMMY Awards, where he played with Metallica; the Opening Ceremony of the 2008 Beijing Olympics, where more than four billion people around the world viewed his performance, the Last Night of the Proms at London’s Royal Albert Hall, or the Liszt 200th birthday concert broadcasted live to more than 500 cinemas around the US and Europe. He forms enduring musical partnerships with the world’s greatest artists, from conductors such as Daniel Barenboim, Gustavo Dudamel and Sir Simon Rattle, to artists from outside of classical music – among them, dubstep dancer Marquese “nonstop” Scott and jazz titan Herbie Hancock. Thanks to his Sony ambassadorship, he brought Prokofiev’s 7th Piano Sonata to the soundtrack of the multi-million- selling computer game Gran Turismo 5 and 6! And he builds cultural bridges between East and West, frequently introducing Chinese music to Western audiences, and vice versa.
Yet he never forgets what first inspired, and continues to inspire him. Great artists, above all the great composers – Liszt, Chopin and the others – whose music he now delights in bringing to others. Even that famous old Tom and Jerry cartoon “The Cat Concerto” which introduced him, as a child, to the music of Liszt – and that childlike excitement at the discovery of music now surely stays with him and propels him to what he calls “his second career”, bringing music into the lives of children around the world, both through his work for the United Nations as a Messenger of Peace focusing on global education and through his own Lang Lang International Music Foundation. As he inspires, he is inspired. As he is inspired, he inspires others. It is this quality, perhaps, that led the New Yorker to call him “the world’s ambassador of the keyboard”.
Lang Lang started playing piano aged three, won the Shenyang Competition and gave his first public recital by five, entered Beijing’s Central Music Conservatory aged nine, won first prize at the Tchaikovsky International Young Musicians’ Competition and played the complete Chopin Etudes at the Beijing Concert Hall at 13. Then he left for Philadelphia’s Curtis Institute and the great piano teacher Gary Graffman and when his moment came – a dramatic last-minute substitution to perform in the “Gala Of The Century” with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra – he was ready.
Today, his resume reads like a bestseller (and indeed his biography, Journey of a Thousand Miles, has been published in eleven languages – with a version released for younger readers). He has played sold-out concerts in every major city in the world and is the first Chinese pianist to be engaged by the Vienna, the Berlin and the New York Philharmonic orchestras.
In an age where pop and rock stars dominate with sell-out concerts and devoted fan bases, Lang Lang’s influence is firmly establishing the crossover appeal that classical music can have in popular modern culture. In 2009, Time Magazine featured Lang Lang in their annual list of the 100 Most Influential People in the World, citing him as a symbol of the youth of China, and its future. And if the Chinese passion for piano isn’t solely due to him, he has played no small part as a role model – a phenomenon coined by The Today Show as “the Lang Lang effect.” Steinway Pianos for the first time named a model after a single artist when they introduced “The Lang Lang Piano” to China, especially designed for education.
And the child Lang Lang was and who, perhaps, is always with him, would surely have approved of the way he gives back to youth. He mentors prodigies, convenes 100 piano students at a time in concert, and dedicates his Lang Lang International Music Foundation to cultivating tomorrow’s top pianists, music education at the forefront of technology, and building a young audience.
Lang Lang has been featured on every major TV network and in magazines worldwide. He has performed for international dignitaries including the Secretary-General of the U.N. Ban Ki-moon, four US presidents, President Koehler of Germany, Russian President Putin, former French President Sarkozy and President Francois Hollande. Of many landmark events, he was honored to perform recently for President Obama and former President Hu Jin-Tao of China at the White House State Dinner, as well as at the Diamond Jubilee celebratory concert for Queen Elizabeth II at Buckingham Palace. Honors include being added as one of the World Economic Forum’s 250 Young Global Leaders, Honorary Doctorates from the Royal College of Music and Manhattan School of Music, Germany’s Order of Merit and France’s Medal of the Order of Arts and Letters.
He is one of the world’s most prolific and highest-profile recording artists. Featured soloist on the Golden Globe® winning score for the film The Painted Veil, composed by Alexandre Desplat, he can also be heard on the soundtrack of The Banquet, composed by Tan Dun, and of My Week With Marilyn. All of his albums have entered the top classical charts as well as many pop charts around the globe. His album of the First and Fourth Beethoven Piano concertos with L’Orchestre de Paris and Maestro Christoph Eschenbach debuted at number one on the Classical Billboard Chart. Lang Lang also appeared on Billboard’s New Artist chart at the highest-ever position for a classical artist. In 2007, he was nominated for a Grammy® Award, becoming the first Chinese artist to be nominated for Best Instrumental Soloist. He has recently recorded the movie soundtrack for the Japanese blockbuster film Nodame Cantabile, Chopin’s 24 Etudes for “Project Chopin” (the largest project tribute for Chopin’s bicentenary) ,“Nuit De Mai” with Placido Domingo.
His latest released album is a recording with Simon Rattle and the Berliner Philharmoniker of two masterpiece piano concertos of the 20th century, Prokofiev No. 3 and Bartok 2.
With his passion in bringing classical music to the world, Lang Lang continues to amaze and inspire. If you aren’t already, his concert on July 3rd in Byblos will make a classical fan out of you!