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”; a resounding musical motif that echoes through his life and career. He inspires millions with his open-hearted, emotive playing, whether it be in intimate recitals or on the grandest of stages – such as the 2014 World Cup concert in Rio, with Placido Domingo, to celebrate the final game; the 56th GRAMMY Award, where he performed 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 with the Philadelphia Orchestra and Charles Dutoit which was broadcast live in more than 300 movie theaters around the United States and 200 cinemas across Europe (the first classical music cinemacast to be headlined by a solo artist).
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, king of the crooners Julio Inglesias and jazz titan Herbie Hancock. He even builds relationships with corporations who will help him get classical music to ever-more people - thanks to his Sony ambassadorship, for instance, he brought Prokofiev’s 7th Piano Sonata to the soundtrack of the multi-million- selling computer game Gran Turismo 5and 6! And he builds cultural bridges between East and West, frequently introducing Chinese music to Western audiences, and vice versa.
He started playing piano aged three, won the Shenyang Competition and gave his first public recital by the time he was five, entered Beijing’s Central Music Conservatory aged nine, won first prize at the Tchaikovsky International Young Musicians’ Competition and playing the complete Chopin Etudes at the Beijing Concert Hall at 13. He left for America, Curtis and the great piano teacher Gary Graffman and when his moment came, he was ready. That moment happened when, aged 17, he was called upon to make a dramatic last-minute substitution for the famous Andre Watts to perform in the “Gala Of The Century”, playing a Tchaikovsky concerto with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. It made him what journalists like to call an “overnight star” and the world’s finest concert halls quickly beckoned.
Today, his resume reads like a bestseller (and indeed his biography, Journey of a Thousand Miles, has been published by Random House in eleven languages, and was released to critical acclaim – and as part of his commitment to the education of children, he released a version specifically for younger readers, entitled Playing with Flying Keys). He has been heralded as the “hottest artist on the classical music planet” by the New York Times, has played sold out concerts in every major city in the world and is the first Chinese pianist to be engaged by the Vienna Philharmonic, Berlin Philharmonic and the New York Philharmonic orchestras.
Time Magazine has recently included Lang Lang in the “Time 100”, the magazine’s annual list of the 100 Most Influential People in the World, naming him as a symbol of the youth of China, and its future. Lang Lang is the cultural ambassador of the cities of Shenzhen and Shenyang. In July 2012 he relayed the London Olympic torch in London just before the opening of the XXX Olympiad.
Lang Lang enjoys reaching audiences of all sizes and few come bigger than that of the YouTube Symphony Orchestra, of which Lang Lang was the first official Ambassador – a role, created by YouTube and Google that combined two of his great loves, music and outreach through technology. More traditionally, tens of thousands of people have enjoyed Lang Lang’s performances in open-air concerts in parks and venues around the globe, including Central Park in New York City, Hollywood Bowl in Los Angeles, Ravinia Festival in Chicago, Theaterplatz in Dresden and Derby Park in Hamburg. Lang Lang participated in the opening concert at Munich’s Olympic Stadium with Mariss Jansons, marking the commencement of the World Cup Games. In celebratory concerts for the closing of 2008 Euro Cup finals, Lang Lang played with the Vienna Philharmonic under the baton of Zubin Mehta in front of Schönbrunn Palace. And he marked the New Year’s Eve gala opening of the National Centre for the Performing Arts in Beijing with another great conductor, Seiji Ozawa.
Lang Lang has made numerous TV appearances, including The Today Show, the Tonight Show with Jay Leno, Good Morning America, CBS Early Show, 60 Minutes, Wetten Dass and El Número Uno among many others. He has been featured on every major TV network and in news and lifestyle magazines worldwide, including such diverse publications as The New Yorker, Esquire, Vogue, The Times, Financial Times, GQ, Cosmopolitan, Die Welt, Reader’s Digest and People.
As well as President Obama, Lang Lang has performed for numerous international dignitaries including the former Secretary-General of the United Nations Kofi Annan, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, George H. W. Bush, George W. Bush, William J. Clinton, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, former President Hu Jin-Tao of China, President Horst Koehler of Germany, H.R.H. Prince Charles, former French President Nicolas Sarkozy, President Francois Hollande, Queen Beatrix and King Majesty King Willem-Alexander and Poland President Lech Kaczynski. Of many landmark events, he was honored to perform recently for President Barack Obama and former President Hu Jin-Tao at the White House State Dinner, as well as at the Diamond Jubilee celebratory concert for Queen Elizabeth II at Buckingham Palace.
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 soundtracks 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 in honor of Chopin’s bicentenary), “Nuit De Mai” with Placido Domingo and, of course, the opening sequence for Gran Turismo.
In September 2014 Lang Lang launched his series of piano tutorial books, entitled ‘Mastering the Piano’, in London, as a special guest on the One Show. The five books, published by Faber Music are published in multiple languages and sold all over the world.
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