Lang Lang, 52 Steinway-Designed Pianos, and 100 Piano Students At London’s Royal Festival Hall
Steinway Artist Lang Lang is an internationally renowned classical pianist that is credited with inspiring 40 million children to take up the piano in China (often called the "Lang Lang Effect"). He has been taking his talents around the globe to try to inspire that same effect in youngsters worldwide, as part of a program called Lang Lang Inspires.
On May 22, 2011, Lang Lang took to the stage at the Royal Festival Hall in London with quite the accompaniment—100 outstanding young British pianists. The event was organized as a partnership between Lang Lang and the Southbank Centre, with the main goal of increasing the profile of classical piano music in the United Kingdom. Beginning with an open call for internet auditions, a short list of about 500 entries was accepted. From there, Lang Lang himself helped to narrow down the list to 102 finalists ranging in age from 6 to 23 years old.
In organizing the event, there was a need for 51 pianos in addition to the Southbank Centre's Steinway, in order to accommodate the young pianists (2 pianists per piano). These instruments—all Steinway-Designed pianos—were supplied by Steinway Hall — London, and it took all of the stage space at Royal Festival Hall to accommodate the impressive collection of pianos.
Tickets for the event had sold out months earlier, and the sell-out crowd was not disappointed by the performance. Six talented finalists were selected for solo performances, and then the entire group took part in the rest of the program, playing alongside Lang Lang, conducted by James Lowe. For the finale, the group played Beethoven's Fifth. For the encore, they played Wagner's "The Flight of the Valkyries."