Lang Lang, China’s burgeoning classical music scene, and contemporary music

Posted on: April 23, 2014

In Wednesday’s (4/23) Irish Times, Michael Dervan comments on the playing of Lang Lang, the profusion of piano students in China, and the effects of contemporary music on interpretation of the classics. “The most frequently quoted number for piano students in China is 50 million. Lang Lang mentioned it when I interviewed him after [a] concert [in Birmingham]. The implications are mind-boggling: there are as many piano students in one Asian country as the entire population of Spain.… There are lots of prejudices about Chinese performers of classical music, just as there were years ago about Koreans, Japanese and American musicians. And attitudes to composers seem to be more intransigent again. But, just as the US slowly established its musical independence and began to feed new ideas and new standards back across the Atlantic, Asian countries will surely do the same. In the case of China, the effect of the scale is the big unknown.… I would like to hear [Lang Lang] in the most challenging music that’s being written by the major composers of today.… Some of the most Lang-like, individualistic performances of standard repertoire I have heard have come from players steeped in new music.” 

Posted April 23, 2014