Lang Lang Inspires is a major project with virtuosic pianist Lang Lang from 17 – 22 May aimed at inspiring young pianists. As part of the project Southbank Centre has invited 100 young pianists to join Lang Lang on the Royal Festival Hall stage in a massed piano day event on Sunday 22 May.
Drew Steanson, aged 18 and participant in this event,
talks about the project and how it’s inspired him.
‘I hope I speak for everyone when I say this is a great opportunity to be involved in with one of the most eccentric pianists of our younger generation. I shall certainly treasure this event for years to come; hopefully it won’t be my first and last time playing at Royal Festival Hall!
My first inspiration to take up the piano occurred relatively late compared to others my age aspiring to become concert pianists. I was around 12 years old when I began listening to classical music; I then chose the piano because of its encompassing range to imitate a full orchestra or a single instrument (hearing 50 ‘orchestras’ play at the same time on Sunday will certainly be interesting!). I developed my love of piano music and different composers through the form of etudes so I’m very pleased that Lang Lang chose to play Chopin’s Op.25 in his solo recital. My love of studies runs from Chopin to Liszt, Rachmaninov, Scriabin, Godowsky, Alkan and many others. Unfortunately I cannot play all of them yet!
I first heard about the Lang Lang project a year ago when I searched on the Southbank Centre website to see the forthcoming concerts. I went through the entire year’s events and noticed the Lang Lang Massed Piano Day near the end. I entered, primarily to be able to meet other pianists my age, and secondly get the chance to play at Royal Festival Hall – although meeting Lang Lang appears somewhere between those two objectives!
There will be a wide variety of repertoire played in the concert, from Bach to Khachaturian. The main piece will be the fourth movement of Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony. In the rehearsal on Saturday there may be few unexpected difficulties. The first could be getting everyone in time, which may be difficult for pianists who are not accustomed to playing in groups (although metronomes will help here). The second, getting a suitable sound out of every instrument to balance the texture in relation to how it would sound with Beethoven’s orchestration. It will be exciting to be able to learn from, and teach, others about the assortment of instruments the piano can imitate and the colours at the pianist’s disposal. Both Carl Czerny and Anton Rubinstein considered it to be capable of impersonating 100 instruments, and with the development of the piano I would believe it is now more. It will be a thrilling task exploring the sound world of the piano with others, and what better pianos to experiment on than Steinway grands!
The weekend is soon approaching. The highlight will certainly be getting to play alongside Lang Lang although I only hope this isn’t a once in a lifetime opportunity! I do not fully understand the logistics of getting 50 Steinway grand pianos on the Royal Festival Hall stage, but hopefully it isn’t too hard to attempt again! With any luck the partnership between Lang Lang and Southbank Centre continues further into the future.’
Thanks very much for your blog Drew. We look forward to your Royal Festival Hall debut performance on Sunday!
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