The former child prodigy who has blossomed into one of the biggest
names in classical music, lived up to his role as UNICEF Goodwill
Ambassador this month when he donated the first Steinway-designed
Lang Lang children's piano to help the HIV/AIDS and Children
project in Southwest China's Yunnan Province.
"Music is like a language; it's like a universal language. It
has the connection to the people and also the feeling from your
soul, from your heart," Lang Lang said. "I think the best way to
reach children is to play them music. This really opens their ears
and their minds."
Lang, who was born into a musical family in Shenyang of
Northeast China, began his piano studies at the age of 3, giving
his first public recital when he was only 5. He entered the Central
Conservatory of Music of China at 9. In 1997, accompanied by his
father, the 15-year-old studied with Gary Graffman at the Curtis
Institute in Philadelphia.
"Studying piano as a child, sometimes, is no fun. I had to sit
there under the watchful eyes of my teachers and parents for
hours," he said. "But when I play piano, I can hear the music. The
rhythm inspired many vivid mental pictures, which I have
Lang gave his piano "child-friendly" design elements, such as a
reversible front panel, which converts into a whiteboard and a
He recalled that it was the cartoon Tom and Jerry that inspired
him to become a pianist. He was only a toddler, but he remembered
seeing Tom the cat playing Liszt's Hungarian Rhapsody No 2 and
thinking, "Wow, this is pretty cool".
In April 2001, the 18-year-old made his critically acclaimed
Carnegie Hall debut. He has also given concerts with big names such
as the New York Philharmonic.
He was appointed as UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador in 2004 as the
organization's youngest celebrity recruit. Lang performs about 110
concerts a year, including 25 charity concerts for UNICEF.
"I've been very fortunate. I've had wonderful parents, teachers
and friends. So, to give something in return, I think the best
thing is to help children. We need to open our eyes and hearts for
Lang kicked off his world university tour from Peking University
Hall on April 18.
(China Daily April 28, 2007)