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.
And if the Chinese passion for piano isn’t solely due to him, he has played no small part as a role model to encourage more than 40 million Chinese children to learn to play the instrument – a phenomenon coined by The Today Show as “the Lang Lang effect.” Steinway Pianos, for the first time in their century-and-a-half-long history, named a piano model after a single artist when they introduced “The Lang Lang Piano” to China. That piano, specially designed for early music education, is now on its fifth iteration.
And the child Lang Lang was and who, perhaps, is always with him, would surely have approved of the way he gives back to children around the world. His volunteer activities include mentoring rising young talented pianists, convening 100 piano students at a time in concert, performing for sick children in hospi¬tals, delivering classical music recitals in underserved and remote communities, and donating his musical talents to raise awareness of other charitable causes. These charitable efforts have led to the launch of the Lang Lang International Music Foundation, with its goals of cultivating tomorrow’s top pianists, championing music education at the forefront of technology, and building a young audience through live music experiences. The Financial Times described Lang Lang as “evangelical in his efforts to spread the popularity of classical music.” And in May 2009, Lang Lang and three chosen young scholars from the foundation – aged between 6 and 10 years old – performed together on The Oprah Winfrey Show on “Oprah’s Search for the World’s Most Smartest and Most Talented Kids.”
In 2011, Lang Lang Music World was launched, a multi-functioning arts complex located in Shenzhen and Chongqing, China, where children can go to receive piano education, participate in master classes and competitions, attend concerts and purchase educational products. Lang Lang himself continues to give master classes regularly throughout the world at the invitation of the most prestigious music institutions, including the Curtis Institute of Music, Juilliard School, Manhattan School of Music and Hanover Conservatory, as well as all the top conservatories in China where he holds honorary professorships. Elite universities such as Oxford, Harvard and Columbia have invited him to give talks.