2008: The Year of Lang Lang
Submitted by langlangweb on April 7, 2009 - 2:03pm
2008 was a great year for Gil Shaham, for Leila Josefowicz, for Gustavo Dudamel. The NY Phil went to North Korea, Valery Gergiev supported the Russian Army, Leonard Bernstein has had a big revival year in New York.
But no one in classical music has had a bigger year than the 26 year-old Chinese pianist Lang Lang. In fact, Lang Lang's 2008 may be unique in the history of musical personalities. You can listen to our "2008, Year of Lang Lang" feature (produced by PT's Chris Danforth) by clicking here.
Let's run down the list: In February, Lang Lang played live at the Grammy Awards, a duet with Herbie Hancock. He released his autobiography...wait, make that his SECOND autobiography in eight languages. (This in the year he turned 26.) In June, he played in front of a Vienna palace with the Vienna Philharmonic, a concert celebrating the end of the 2008 European Soccer Championships. He played a concert in Central Park with the New York Philharmonic, for an audience of about 60,000. (He later tried to sell the red Steinway from that concert on eBay to raise money for earthquake relief in China. There were no bids, but Lang Lang raised $3 million for Red Cross earthquake relief by playing benefit concerts.)
He was on the Sesame Street float in the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York. (If you follow the link, Lang Lang is wearing the red scarf.)
He played for a live global audience of...what, maybe four billion?...during the opening ceremonies of the Olympic Games. ("It's kind of like you're playing in the universe," said Lang Lang.)
He created a foundation to support young musicians, with the goal of doling out $5 million dollars a year.
He got his own line of Adidas sneakers. (Even after I read news reports about this, I didn't believe it. But I am now the proud owner of a pair of black, size 10 Lang Lang Gazelle shoes. Golden graphic of Lang Lang on the outside of each heel.)
And to top it off, Lang Lang made People Magazine's list of the sexiest men alive, alongside Hugh Jackman, Daniel Craig, Zac Efron, and Michael Phelps.
As we celebrate the New Year, and look back on 2008, this year's song is...Auld Lang Lang Syne.
Written By:Fred Child
Publication:American Public Media