Pianist Lang Lang unveils 15-city touring plan for new album as restrictions ease
Published: Mar 16, 2021 12:36 AM
Photo:Li Hao/GT

Photo:Li Hao/GT

Lang Lang, China's virtuoso pianist will embark on a 15-city domestic tour for his new album, Bach's Goldberg Variations. The album focuses on some of the most difficult pieces in Bach's repertoire due to the great variety of styles, the pianist said at a ceremony on Monday.  

He will perform two-hour solo concerts without any intermission in each of the 15 Chinese cities including Lang's hometown, Northeast China's Shenyang, with help from Poly Theatre Management. 

"Bach is the world's greatest composer," the 38-year-old pianist told the Global Times. Lang became famous by playing the great romantic composers, but "playing Bach has been my dream since the age of 10," he said. 

"It is challenging," Lang admitted. He has focused on Beethoven and Mozart in the past, and an arm injury in 2017 forced him to cancel concerts for over a year, delaying his plans to perform Bach's music. 

Photo:Li Hao/GT

Photo:Li Hao/GT

Marathon, not dash 

"That made me calm down and adjust myself to the new life," said the musician who was used to performing hundreds of concerts a year before the injury. He was encouraged and taken care of by his wife, German-Koran pianist Gina Alice Redlinger, as he recovered from the career-threatening injury. 

"I always thought life was like dashes and I ran so hard every time: the faster, the better," he recalled. "But I was wrong. I reviewed my life and career. Up to the age of 35 was like the first chapter and life is a marathon. You can always improve bit by bit," he said.

"Some twenty years after I first played Bach, I finally gathered the courage to perform it on the stage. That is the charm of classical music. The longer you spend on a certain work, the more you will get from it."

For Lang, performing the Goldberg Variations is not only his own dream, but also a kind of "medicine that makes life better: healing people, uniting and encouraging people to be better, especially at a time when the world is still fighting against the COVID-19 pandemic."

Before releasing the album in September, Lang had performed in major Chinese cities like Shenzhen and Hangzhou. 

"Bach's music always brings us strength and courage to face difficulties like the virus," he said. 

On Monday, China's cultural authorities eased the anti-COVID19 restrictions in cultural venues like cinemas and theaters across the country, which no longer have to meet the requirements for limited capacity. 

"As part of Lang Lang's Bach: Goldberg Variations global tour, the concerts in China's will lift people's spirits and raise hopes for concert halls around the world," said Guo Wenpeng from Poly Theatre Management.  

Photo:Li Hao/GT

Photo:Li Hao/GT

Passion for performing

Most concert halls in Europe and the US remain closed due to the anti-COVID-19 requirements. According to Lang Lang's estimate, his overseas tour can start in September at the earliest if everything goes well, with plans to play in Berlin, New York and Paris. 

"The ongoing pandemic is a disaster for the music industry," said Lang. "Many of my friends, mostly professionals, have lost their jobs and their chance to perform on the stage. It is something they have never been through before."

Virtuoso Gary Graffman, Lang Lang's teacher, told him that in all his 92 years, "Carnegie Hall was never closed for one year, even at the hardest time of World War II."

Lang Lang said that in 2020 he still took every chance to perform, even at some small gatherings among friends. "I don't want to lose the passion for the stage," he said. 

In his eyes, how to engage with streaming media and new media is vital for the future of classical music. "I discovered that some orchestras both at home and abroad are managing to adjust to better fit online concerts. It will be a new beginning." 

As China's most successful musician, Lang Lang has inspired millions of Chinese kids to chase their piano dreams in the hope of becoming a new Lang Lang one day.

As a new father to a baby boy, Lang said he hopes that his son "will learn some art form or a certain instrument. After all, art is still one's best friend. For the future, it is still too early to talk about raising him to become a professional musician."