On Sunday, January 28th at 3 pm, Chinese piano prodigy Lang Lang will perform a solo piano recital at Boston’s Symphony Hall. The twenty-four year-old virtuoso has already enjoyed a notable career. Taking up the piano at three, Lang won the Shenyang Piano Competition at an unprecedented five years old, going on to study at Beijing’s Central Music Conservatory at nine and win first prize at the International Young Pianists Competition in Germany at eleven.
He rose to international stardom following a breakthrough performance in 1999 when the then-seventeen Lang was substituted for an indisposed André Watts at the eleventh hour. Playing Tchaikovsky’s “Piano Concerto No. 1” with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Lang was hailed by the Chicago Tribune as the “greatest, most exciting new keyboard talent in years.”
Debuts at prestigious classical venues such as Carnegie Hall, the Berlin Philharmonic, and Symphony Hall all followed within two years. A cache of awards has been growing, including the first-ever Leonard Bernstein Award, conferred in 2002 at the Schleswig-Holstein Festival. Lang continues an ambitious course of recording sessions and recitals that brings him back to Boston this month.
Lang’s Sunday afternoon program includes selections from repertoire stand-bys Mozart (a piano sonata), Schumann (a fantasie), and Liszt (several Wagner transcriptions and a rhapsody), as well as a few exciting exhibition pieces. “Six Traditional Chinese Works” are Lang’s own adaptations of old Chinese melodies for solo piano, and they represent a developing interest in ethnic musical traditions, which Lang explores on his most recent studio release, Dragon Songs. “Goyescas” by Enrique Granados is the first Spanish composition Lang has chosen to feature in a recital and finds influence and inspiration in traditional Spanish music and the paintings of its namesake, Francisco Goya.
Accompanying a second performance on March 30th, this month’s event is part of the Bank of America Celebrity Series, which hosts 40-50 performance arts events in and around Boston annually. Committed to quality, diversity, and serving the broadest possible audience, the series was founded in 1938 as the Aaron Richmond Celebrity Series and was incorporated in 1989 as a nonprofit performing arts presenter.