Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Beautiful Memories - 6/27/06

The beautiful memories are still in my mind, although it was about 20 days ago when I performed in the opening ceremony of the World Cup. Now, fortunately, I have a moment to steal, so I can draw down some words to share my happiness and "pain" during the performance.

I arrived at Munich Olympic Stadium on German time June 5th. My arrival attracted more than 50 Chinese and foreign journalists' interviews. The world-renowned tenor, Domingo, conductor, Mehta, and I attended a press conference, and left our handprints for the Olympic Stadium. Leaving handprints gave me an extremely strong impression, though it wasn't my first time to leave them. I was pretty excited when I was watching my hands going deeply into the bright red inkpad, watching my handprints turning into permanent memory instantly, and watching dozens of journalists witnessing this exciting moment with their various equipments. Unfortunately, after finishing this process, my hands were stained with the red ink, and I couldn't wash it off at first no matter how hard I tried. At that time I was so afraid that when I play the piano, my hands will stain the shiny white keys. It took me about half an hour to finally reveal my "original hands". I said to myself , “What a strong impression!” Not only did I leave my handprints in the Star Avenue of the Olympic Stadium, but also I left both my Chinese and English names. That meant so much for me.

In those days, the number of words I spoke must be more than the notes in my music score - endless interviews almost made my voice hoarse. When it comes to the voice, I must mention a man, who is one of the three famous tenors, Domingo. Although he talks very loudly everyday, his voice can still be resonant. I really envy him. Domingo is not only known as an artistic master ,but also a hard-core soccer fan. His is crazy about the soccer! He can talk about the soccer with anyone he meets, and anyone he meets must talk about the soccer with him. He also likes to predict the game results. When he is serious about his prediction, he will even argue with you. Even in the interview, he talks about soccer as soon as possible. If you didn’t know that he was the artist who was invited to perform, you would mistaken him as a soccer reporter for sure. There is a journalist who said that German team will win the world cup. When he heard this, he kicked the ball right above the journalist’s head accurately. The journalist, who was a German, couldn’t help laughing. Domingo laughed too, like a innocent naughty child. That was funny and amused all the people around him.

The performance in the opening concert for the World Cup is the most expectant and the most memorable one in all of my performances. Now, when I think of the scene at the performance , I can still feel the excitement and, the coldness. Maybe you don’t know, it was extremely cold that night. People came to watch the performance with heavy winter coat and blanket. What I dressed was just the regular concert attire. My body was shivering, and my fingers were numb. At that time, I thought it must be already difficult to play simple scales with my numb hands, how could I play the Hungarian Rhapsody? What should I do? Then I got into a resting canopy that looked like an Mongolian tent. I found a fireplce there! Then I put my hands close to get some warmth. Fortunately, it wasn't a BBQ oven, otherwise I could not image what my hands would turn out to be. Eventually, my hands got warmer and my fingers “revived”. It was time to perform. The passion from the audience was drawn to the peak. The whole stadium was boiling in the crazy applause and crying. Perhaps that was the charm and attraction of the perfect combination of sport and music. When I was coming back to the “Mongolia tent” after the performance, a famous German TV anchor Beckman walked to me. He wanted to know more about the children who study the piano in China. Then I talked with him for about three minutes in the piercing wind. Although I went back into the “Mongolia tent” as soon as I could, I still caught a cold.

The quadrennial world cup game is carrying on fiercely, and my performances are continuously taking place. The World Cup left the world much excitement. It also left me many beautiful and long-lasting memories. There're also some interesting things about my China tour and many pictures I want to share with you. Due to time constrain, I can not do it now. Please stay tuned!

I just saw that some fans in my fan site forum have translated my blog writings into English at http://www.langlangfans.com/bbs. Very interesting! Thank you all so much!


Original entry posted on http://www.langlangfans.org/english/forum/ on June 27, 2006
Translate: Reny; Final Edit: Gnol

Monday, June 12, 2006

Heart Following the Will; Busy yet Content - 6/10/06

finally can steal a moment to upload the pictures my friend just sent me. I'll let the pictures tell my "FIFA story".


Good to see a Chinese face


Leaving hand prints with maestros


Both Chinese and English names filed



I like the lucky red in the year of dog- the year i was born


A quick meal - daddy's always there for me


At rehearsal

With Mehta, Domingo at a press conference


We're all soccer fans!


The combination of soccer and music is marvelous.
Music lightens the holy soccer field, like a rainbow to the sky.
Music conveys morale and energy to the players and feels the happiness and sadness with the fans.
It is a song of victory to the winner and a lullaby of comfort to the defeated.
No matter one walks out of the field with hyper excitement or a whispering sigh,
everyone is captivated by the magic of soccer amplified by the music they hear.

Original post written by Lang Lang @ blog.sina.com/m/langlang on 6/10/06
Translate: Harpplayer & Gnol

A Letter To Mom - 5/14/06

Dear Mom:

How are you? Today I can smell Mother’s Day in the air! At this moment, I really want to fly back to you, be with you, chat with you, go shopping with you, or MAYBE help you do some housework. However, I’m away because of the schedule I’ve committed to. I feel sorry not being able to accompany you in such a special occasion and hope you’d forgive me for that. I’ll make it up!

Mom, you are the greatest woman in the world. In the difficult days, it was your tenderness and love that nurtured the whole family, enabling me to feel your presence no matter how far away I was from you.

Mom, you’ve always been my emotional support and the support for our entire family in the difficult times. You symbolize kindness and beauty in my heart! On this special day, I sincerely wish you and all the moms in the world forever healthy, happy and beautiful!

Everyone in China must be on their Labor Day vacation, but I’m still running non-stop. A few days ago I had a concert in the great La Scala opera house in Milan, Italy. This prestigious opera house located in the center of Milan is the holy land for operas. It was built in 1778 and was named after noblewoman Beatrice della Scala, wife of Bernabo Visconti. Many famous operas in the 19th century, such as Bellini’s “Norma”, Verdi’s “Otello”, Puccini’s “Turando” and “Madam Butterfly” were all premiered here. I was told by the staff here that the Italian government has spent 67 million USD to repair the building, retaining its 18th century look yet providing it with the most advanced equipments and improved acoustics. You gotta check out those balconies! Sitting in those fancy balconies overlooking the majestic hall makes you feel like going back to the 19th century – you can imagine how those rich aristocrats lived! Each balcony here is like a huge entertainment room. Back to the good old days, those highly privileged people spent their leisure time there being entertained by the music and all the exquisite wine and food! To the Italians, La Scala opera house is a symbol of status. It’s really my honor to perform here. The audience went wild. I am addicted to this palace that’s filled with Renaissance-style art and architectures. Every line, every brick and every building in this place is work of art! It was hard for me to leave. Mom, I’ll have to bring you here next time! You should see it for yourself! You’ll be amazed!

I returned to the US after Italy and am now in Indianapolis. I’ve chosen Mozart piano concerto K453 for this performance. This concerto is quite unique, especially in the 3rd movement that consists variations on a theme and a grand ending. It has a delicate comparison between brightness and dimness. In the variations, Mozart depicts a kind of bird that sings out of tune. The theme is actually quite “childish”. It’s composed for his student Barbara von Ployer.

Oh mom, to tell you something funny – this is also rare. I was invited by a car racing organization in Indianapolis to sit in the passenger’s seat while they would be practicing and feel the speed at 200miles/hr. I got up at 6:30 in the morning which was entirely abnormal for me. However, when I arrived, all geared up, it was suddenly pouring. I got soaked and the race was cancelled! At the end, I just got to ride a golf cart. This was pathetic...

I am very busy these days, yet happy. I was recently recording for the soundtrack of a Chinese movie, called “The Banquet” for my good friend Tan Dun. It’s a mixture of classical and modern music, culture and non-culture, and Chinese and western styles. It was fun playing with percussion instruments.

My long-anticipated World Cup opening concert is coming soon! I’m going to play 3 pieces: Rhapsody in Blue by Gershwin,Hungarian Rhapsody No.2 by Liszt, and “We Are Champions”. The last one is to accompany Domingo- I'm nog going to sing it myself, haha. The conductor will be Mariss Jansons, who conducted the Vienna New Year Concert this year, and the orchestra I’m going to work with is the Bayerische Staatsorchester.

All right, mom, I’m going to practice now. I’ll call you later!

Wish you a happy Mother’s Day!



Your Son,

Lang Lang


P.S. I’m putting up a picture taken recently. I was giving a master class, and the kid in the picture is a Chinese student at Curtis, named Haochen Zhang. He’s very smart and has very good comprehension to music. He plays very well!



Originally written by Lang Lang on 5/14/06 @ blog.sina.com/m/langlang
Translate: Harpplayer; Final Edit: Gnol

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Random Thoughts - 4/28/06

The smell of spring is getting stronger, and my performances and activities are getting denser, just like this spring rain. I’ve been working like crazy these few days, trying to balance performances, practicing new pieces and preparing for my important performance at Carnegie Hall all at once, so busy that my mind’s going to burst.

Even though it was my 10th performance at Carnegie Hall, it was only the 2nd solo recital. I was pleased to have this opportunity and at the same time, felt the pressure all around me. I must concentrate for large periods of time to practice, and must also ensure that I can keep a calm and peaceful mind to think over the music. I shut down all my phones, shunned out everything from the outside world and self-trained myself strictly. Although I disliked using the metronome, I kept it with me this time, just in case. I wanted to be in my best shape for this performance.

The April 26th performance at Carnegie Hall finally arrived. All 2900 tickets had been sold out a few months ago, there were also 100 seats added onto the stage. Due to my preparation, I was in full confidence of this performance. During the performance, every piece that I played earned passionate applauses from the audience. My music took them by heart! My music conquered them! Their passionate response was the best proof! Some might say that I’m arrogant to say something like this, but I think it’s just the natural confidence one gets after working hard, thinking hard and earning what he deserves.

I’ve talked mostly about my preparation before the performance. Now I’d like to share with you some funny little stories to make up for not updating my blog as often as I wished.

1. After the performance and a few encores, I still hadn’t satisfied the audience. I was drawn back to the stage by the impassioned applause after quite a few curtain calls. Just then, I heard somebody call out: “erhu erhu!” Oh! So they wanted my father to play the “Competing Horses” song. Haha, I answered loudly: “The erhu is missing, my dad hid it so even I couldn’t find it.” Hehe, I thought to myself, a pity that my piano’s too big to hide. Actually, my father is easy to be satisfied - one performance to add to the fun was enough for him. He doesn’t have the desire to play regularly, and of course doesn’t have a whole lot of time to practice. But I know when he can’t fight his own passion, he still secretly practices.

2. After the performance, waiting for my autographs was a huge line that extended all the way outside the door. A little girl asked me for the towel I used. I said to her, “It’s on the piano. You can take it.” Actually, my towel is always snatched by some quick-acting fans after every performance, leaving me no chance to get it by myself.

3. After signing the seemingly millions of autographs, my right hand was stiff, so finally I switched to my left hand - a good way to solve the problem, huh? Pianists should use both right and left hands flexibly! Signing with both hands? Not a problem! At last, both of my hands all got worn out, so I signed a couple by holding the pen in my mouth, which I personally thought was a pretty good job.

Oh, I have just thought of something very delightful and important that I would like to share with everyone. On the April 20th, I was invited to the White House to attend the welcoming party for Chinese chairman Hu Jintao. It took me three and a half hours to make it to D.C. that morning.

Away abroad, in a very special and important occasion, meeting with the chairman and the ministers, my excitement was too great to describe… One interesting moment - seeing Ms. Rice and me standing together, Minister Li Zhaoxing joked to us, “When are you going to perform together with 2 pianos? How far are you going to sit from each other when you play?” Ms. Rice answered humorously, “I’d prefer a duo, since that way we can sit closer.” Everyone was laughing. President Bush also invited me, “Hey buddy! Come more often to the White House and try our chef’s special!”

This trip to the White House was really fun and relaxing, not only did I not have to play any music, I could sit back and enjoy the wonderful live Bluegrass performance. They were superb! They displayed great variety of musical talents, just like America’s mixed culture.

I met Michelle Kwan at the Party, she suggested that we work together on a program combining the piano and ice-skating, which I thought was pretty creative.

After the welcoming party for President Hu, I took off immediately for Virginia for a scheduled concert. As I barely had enough time to get there, I rushed the taxi driver. He ended up getting lost and finally got there - in three and a half hours! There were only ten minutes left to the curtain time, yet I couldn’t find the backstage door, so I rushed in from the front door, dragging my luggage along. The audience spotted me and found it amusing, “Hurry up! You’re late!” Oh God! Rushing into backstage, I went out to the stage as soon as I changed to concert attire, not even having time to go to the restroom. This was my first time being in such hurry for any concert, and hopefully my last, too.

There’s another interesting thing to share! At the interaction with students of Princeton, two students left me strong impressions. One was a boy who played with his flippers on. This alone would be pretty “noticeable”, yet the most unexpected was yet to come - his flippers came off when he was pedaling! Another little boy was very direct with his question, “How much do you make?” “Can we discuss this later in private?” I said. I then asked him, “How much do you want to make?” The kid answered without hesitation, “100 million!” I said, “Not bad… That was big ambition! Good luck!” After the event, I looked around and failed to find him again in the crowd. He was such an interesting kid!

Thanks for the support and all the messages left on my blog. I’ll have pictures put on later.

(Original entry written by Lang Lang in Chinese on 4/28/2006)

Translate: harpplayer; Final Edit: Gnol

Is it really Lang Lang writing?

Welcome, everyone!

Pianist Lang Lang recently opened a blog under persuation of the founder of www.langlangfans.org ! However, he's been writing in Chinese so far.

It surprised the fans that Lang Lang actually put that much heart into writing the blog in his always-packed schedule - every entry has so much content and is such a pleasure to read! His musical life, his passionate and fun-loving personality, his confidence and pride, and his sense of humor spills from every word. You can feel him right in front of you as you read his words.

His passionate fans then decided to pay him back by translating all the blog entries into English to let more people in the world read it! One translation has been done and will be posted in a second! More are on the way!

You may find the original blog at:
blog.sina.com/m/langlang

Sincerely,

LLCC (Lang Lang Classical Club @ www.langlangfans.org)