Skip to main content
Part of complete coverage on

China's piano-playing phenomenon Lang Lang on Revealed

Click to play
Revealed: Lang Lang
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Chinese child prodigy Lang Lang started playing piano at the age of three
  • He has performed at the Beijing Games and China's 60th anniversary
  • Watch Lang Lang collaborate with jazz legend Herbie Hancock

London, England (CNN) -- Lang Lang Revealed - narrated by Jazz Legend Herbie Hancock.

Heralded as the "hottest artist on the classical music planet" by The New York Times, 27-year-old Lang Lang has played sold out recitals and concerts in every major city in the world. The Chinese child prodigy started playing piano at the age of 3, won his first competition aged 5, and today age 27, he is on Time magazine's list of the 100 Most Influential People in the World.

On this month's Revealed, we follow the piano prodigy on an adventure out of his classical zone, and into the jazz world to meet his hero, American legend Herbie Hancock. Hancock narrates us through this journey, following Lang Lang back to China for a bittersweet trip down memory lane, and then onto Montreux in Switzerland for his first foray into the jazz world.

Today Lang Lang is so much in demand that he is constantly on the move, joking to CNN, "I am a professional traveler." Revealed joins Lang Lang on board his private jet on a trip to China, where his megastardom has reached levels which make public outings rather problematic; Lang Lang is mobbed as soon as he sets foot on the street. We talk to his parents about the practice regime they implemented from the age of 4, and the ruthless work ethic that they believe has brought him success.

Lang Lang has made it his mission to share classical music around the world, with an emphasis on training children through outreach programs. Following his performance at the opening of Beijing's 2008 Olympic Games, he became a symbol of the youth and future of China. This status has inspired over 35 million Chinese children to learn to play classical piano - a phenomenon popularly referred to as "the Lang Lang effect." Revealed documents the days leading up to Lang Lang's next major Chinese performance. He has been selected by the government to perform in celebrations of the 60-year Anniversary of the People's Republic of China in Tiananmen Square, a fitting performance for the prodigy who is seen to embody modern China.

The frenzy surrounding Lang Lang in China inspired iconic piano maker Steinway to create their first piano branded in someone's name. On a visit to the Steinway shop along the way, Lang Lang meets two aspiring young pianists, and Revealed captures an impromptu masterclass with the two young boys.

Lang Lang is not however everyone's cup of tea. Famously "loved by some, reviled by others," there are those who find his flashy image and demonstrative performing styles at odds with the world of classical music. But Lang Lang is not concerned about that. His mission is to spread a love of music and popularize classical works.

Revealed follows him to the Montreux Jazz Festival in Switzerland, where he teams up with his hero, Jazz legend Hancock. The feeling of admiration is entirely mutual, and for Hancock who has not played classical repertoire in many years, he is feeling out of his depth. "Lang Lang is totally amazing, I'm pretty terrified to be up on stage playing alongside him. I've never practiced so much in my life!" Backstage another Jazz legend Quincy Jones has popped by for the concert, remarking, "Lang Lang has taken the world by storm. This is as good as it gets."

Only 27 years old, Lang Lang is high on life and music, and hungry for as much adventure as he can get his hands on. His energy and enthusiasm rubs off on all those he comes into contact with, and as Revealed quickly discovers, a trail of laughter, hugs and applause seems to follow him everywhere he goes. Tune in to Revealed to join Herbie Hancock as he walks and laughs us through the adventure that brought him and Lang Lang, two worlds, two generations, and two musical genres together.

Join Revealed for a glimpse into a musical genius' life. www.cnn.com/revealed

Watch Lang Lang on Revealed in November at the following times:

Wednesday 18 November: 0930, 1730
Saturday 21 November: 0930, 1800, 2130
Sunday 22 November: 0630, 1830, 0400
(all times GMT)

 
Quick Job Search