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Lang Lang reaches the top

Updated: 2013-10-09 10:13
By Zhang Chunyan and Cecily Liu (China Daily)

"What makes me feel proud is that when I encounter challenges, I'm lucky to have a helpful hand from many people.

"Technique is not a problem in music; many people can achieve good technique like me. But whenever you want to proceed to the next step it is difficult. Being famous does not make things any easier I have met many masters in the musical profession who have inspired, encouraged and helped me."

Lang Lang's teachers include Gary Graffman of the Curtis Institute of Music Philadelphia, and the pianist and conductor Daniel Barenboim.

Lang Lang says he is lucky to have achieved what he has, and he hopes to spend more time on charitable projects that aim to promote musical education.

Lang Lang reaches the top

"I don't just want to improve myself; I also want to improve the skills and ability of young musicians. I hope that as a musician, I can communicate with other great musicians and synergize our passion for music to inspire the newer generation to open their hearts in music and art."

In 2004, Lang Lang was recognized for his efforts by UNICEF, the UN children's fund, which appointed him as an international Goodwill Ambassador.

He is an advocate for education through his work with the UN and the Lang Lang International Music Foundation, established in 2008.

The UN's Global Education First Initiative, launched in September last year, aims to put every child in school, improve the quality of learning and foster global citizenship.

"For my foundation we have raised $2.2 million, but I want to achieve $10 million over the next five years. We are now helping five schools with musical education, but after five years I want to extend that to 20 schools."

In China, Lang Lang is said to have inspired more than 40 million children to learn to play classical piano, a phenomenon the US TV program The Today Show has called "the Lang Lang effect". But the pianist seems to take that recognition in his stride.

"I don't feel pressure. I just want to do what I do very well."

On top of that, he feels a sense of responsibility, he says.

"When I'm overseas I don't just represent myself, I also represent China, as my fans and compatriots have expectations for me."

He checks his Weibo and Wechat accounts every day to see and hear fans' messages, he says.

To help provide good musical education to talented young Chinese musicians, Lang Lang opened his own school in Shenzhen a year and a half ago. It has 200 students aged 3 to 13.

"I want to educate the children and make them excel in music. They perform better now than when they started doing lessons, so I think the systematic teaching at the school has really helped."

The school's pupils have received visits from world famous musicians, many of them Lang Lang's friends, and the children are given the chance to play music abroad on summer camps.

"I want to play a role to help the children play music on a global stage," he says.

Lang Lang says he has achieved his dreams as a pianist, "but achieving one's dream for one year and achieving it for 10 years is a different thing".

Lang Lang began playing when he was 3, and after two years won the Shenyang Piano Competition and gave his first public recital.

When he was 13, he won first prize at the International Tchaikovsky Competition for Young Musicians in Kurashiki, Japan, and played the complete 24 Chopin etudes at the Beijing Concert Hall.

When he was 17, he was called in as a last-minute replacement for Andre Watts at the Gala of the Century in Chicago, playing a Tchaikovsky concerto with the Chicago Symphony.

The Chicago Tribune hailed him as the "biggest, most exciting keyboard talent encountered in many years".

He has made numerous TV appearances and was featured on news and lifestyle newspapers and magazines worldwide.

"I have achieved my dream for about 15 years already," he says. "But I want to be successfully achieving my dream for 50 years."

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