January 17, 2005


NOW THAT'S A PIANO LESSON: In town for a DSO gig, superstar Lang Lang plays for the neighborhood kids (MARK STRYKER, January 14, 2005, Detroit FREE PRESS)

It wasn't as prestigious or lucrative as playing a solo recital at Carnegie Hall. But for the 22-year-old Chinese pianist Lang Lang, the hottest new star in classical music, his unusual Wednesday night appearance in a Bloomfield Township living room was just as much fun (maybe more) and every bit as challenging.

You try playing finger-busting Liszt and Chopin with dozens of elementary school kids swarming about the piano like bees at a hive, some even squished tightly underneath the instrument and others standing so close that their breath tickles the back of your neck.

Lang -- whose full name is pronounced Long Long -- performs this weekend with the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, but he took a night out to play a rare mini-recital for about 80 kids and perhaps 35 adults at the sprawling contemporary home of Wei Shen, a mother of a 7- and 9-year-old, both of whom study piano. Lang, wearing natty pinstripes and longer jet-black hair than in many of his publicity shots, stayed for hours, playing several pieces, answering questions, posing for countless pictures, autographing CDs, horsing around with the children, partaking in the potluck Chinese feast and offering some impromptu coaching.

When a 9-year-old in pigtails hopped up on the piano bench and started playing a charming Mozart piece from memory, Lang plopped down beside her and played along with his right hand. The duet ended in giggles as the pianists' hands tied themselves into a knot at the center of the keyboard.

"I really love children," said Lang, adding quickly, "but not like Michael Jackson."

Good idea to clear that up.

Posted by Orrin Judd at January 17, 2005 10:13 AM

Not like Albert Fish either, it is hoped.

Posted by: Governor Breck at January 17, 2005 10:39 AM

A talented musician with a puckish sense of humor who happily relates to ordinary people. What would the tabloids say?

Posted by: Bart at January 21, 2005 8:42 AM