Lang Lang's on top of world
Not since the great opera tenor Pavarotti has there been as much global acclaim for a classical musician as there is for the Chinese pianist Lang Lang, who performs tonight with the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra.
Lang Lang (pronounced long long) was one of Time magazine's 100 most influential people in the world in 2009. More than 5 billion television viewers saw him perform during the 2008 Olympics Opening Ceremony. And at last count, 40 million children were taking piano lessons in China, partly because of what the "Today Show" called "the Lang Lang effect.
At the same time, no artist has generated as much controversy for a style of playing that some critics say is too flamboyant or too bombastic, earning him the nickname, "Bang Bang." Yet, the 27-year-old pianist also can be deeply expressive. For a classical musician, Lang Lang is experiencing fame of staggering proportion - and winning over millions of new classical music fans.
He appears in a special, one-night-only concert to launch the symphony's 115th season, which on Wednesday was a virtual sellout. On the phone in Baltimore this week, in the midst of a grueling concert schedule that will take him from Kansas City to Japan and Beijing this month, Lang Lang is thoughtful and pleasant.