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|Genius: Lang Lang comes back to inspire Hanoi once again after 10 years. Photo courtesy of the event organiser|
His performance will be part of the Swiss luxury brand, Hublot loves Art, marking the arrival of the brand in Vietnam with their flagship stores opening in Hanoi and HCM City.
Voted by Time magazine as one of the 100 most influential people in the world, besides a virtuoso artist, Lang Lang has also worked as a piano instructor and social activist. He’s been one of the pioneer artists to breathe the rhythm of the 21st century into classical music.
Getting to know the keyboard at three, Lang Lang had his first pubic performance before his fifth birthday. He won the International Tchaikovsky Competition for Young Musicians when he was 13 in 1995. This is the junior section of the prestigious International Tchaikovsky Competition and the largest competition for junior performers up to 17 years of age. Bùi Công Duy, one of Việt Nam’s top violinists also won first prize in violin in the same competition two years later in 1997.
During his career, Lang Lang had performed for Pope Francis, Queen Elizabeth II and Barack Obama when he served as US President. He has performed at Carnegie Hall, the Royal Albert Hall and Sydney Opera House. He had shared the same stage as other music legend such as Metallica, Herbie Hancock and Pharrell Williams.
Yet, after such hectic schedule, the international superstar is finally getting the break he’s really been waiting for his entire life… a literal one.
The pain in his left arm started last year. The prognosis: tendonitis, an inflammation of the tendon. The healing was expected to begin quickly; it didn’t. Almost a full year later, his road to recovery is still being paved. But this detour from his regular path afforded him a rare opportunity: taking time to rest.
“This year was relaxing,” he was quoted as saying. “I couldn’t play, so I had a lot of time to think about my life.” For 20 years, he has been either practicing or travelling. “I’m trying to enjoy the time I never had before. Now, I have the time to reflect, to rethink, to restart.”
He also finally has the time to figure out what he wants from life. Coming from Shenyang, Liaoning, China, he was driven to succeed at a young age by his father, who gave up his job as a policeman—as well as his marriage-to manage Lang Lang’s career. At 9, when his music teacher declared him talentless, his father, Lang Guoren, quietly suggested that his son commit suicide. Lang Lang ignored his father, and worked even harder.
Coincidentally, his autobiography, co-authored with David Ritz, Lang Lang, Journey of a Thousand Miles, is coming out next week in Hanoi in Vietnamese translated by Linh Pham.
One of the comments on Linh Pham’s post on Facebook about the upcoming Vietnamese copy says “No pain, no gain.” If Lang Lang’s father did not determine to leave everything aside, sacrificing his career and his marriage, to make his son a success, today we won’t have this superstar spreading the music message across the world.
This year, his nonprofit The Lang Lang International Music Foundation will mark its 10th anniversary. Aimed at cultivating up-and-coming pianists, championing music education and building a young audience through live musical experiences, the foundation also inspires public school children who might not be able to afford music education the chance to live their musical dreams.
In fact, the foundation has been so successful in inspiring 40 million Chinese children to learn piano that the phenomenon is known as “The Lang Lang effect,” which has also branched into schools in the US.
Lang Lang said he would like to refer to himself as “innovative”. As a pianist, educator and influential ambassador for the arts, Lang Lang has fully embraced new technology and the spirit of innovation, making classical music palatable for the 21st century generation. He’s a groundbreaker, a trendsetter.
Now, he’s continuing his exploration into the cutting edge by partnering with Swiss watch brand Hublot, with whom he’s created two collections of avant-garde timepieces.
“I’m a classical musician, but I’m trying to bring classical music into the new century,” he says. “I’m not so keen to follow what has already been done before, and that’s the same with Hublot. Their watches are of great quality from the past, but they’re trying everything to break through and create something new every day. We have similar targets, similar missions.”
The pioneering spirit and uniqueness are both shared by Lang Lang and Hublot. Indeed, the brand’s ethos is its “Art of Fusion,” combining tradition with the future. Lang Lang says he feels that the brand “gets” him.
For Lang Lang, the watches are functional: “I like to wear a watch while I’m playing the piano. As you know, pianists don’t typically like to wear things during performances, because watches can be heavy, and it can be hard to move your wrist. But I can actually wear this while I’m performing, because it’s lightweight.”