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 with 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 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 broadcast 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”.
Time Magazine named Lang Lang in the “Time 100”, citing him as a symbol of the youth of China, and its future. Lang Lang is cultural ambassador for Shenzhen and Shenyang. 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, specially 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 dedicated 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, 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, the highest prize awarded by China’s Ministry of Culture, Germany’s Order of Merit and France’s Medal of the Order of Arts and Letters.