My gala experience began by photographing Lang Lang’s conversation with the St. Louis Symphony Youth Orchestra. External Affairs VP Adam Crane served as moderator at the theater in the new KDHX studios a block from Powell. The YO musicians were a rapt audience, with Lang Lang talking about his career–when an orchestra calls and asks if you can play a certain concerto, the answer is always yes, at least in the early years–and the importance of being an ambassador of the art form. He also talked about performing with the Gangnam Style guy.
In the evening was the big show, with dinner before and dancing after. Symphony Principal Flute Mark Sparks played some revelatory Bach, and Lang Lang did his phenomenal thing.
I must say of the entire organization, we did well. And when it was time to let loose, we partied like it was 1999.
There are a lot of reasons to like Lang Lang. He’s one of the most exciting musicians on the planet to hear and see live. At the keyboard he appears to be just on the edge of control, like a great downhill racer. It’s hard to believe he’s over 30 (just barely), since many of us remember him as the impetuous teenager playing with all the panache of Horowitz. He’s also a sweet guy and works to do a lot of good. He plays Tchaikovsky’s Piano Concerto No. 1 for the St. Louis Symphony Gala on October 18, with David Robertson conducting the orchestra.
But on top of all that, he includes among his first inspirations the Tom and Jerry cartoon “The Cat Concerto.” That’s how he first got acquainted with Liszt.