Through his work as a pianist, educator, and philanthropist, Lang Lang has become an influential and committed ambassador for the arts in the twenty-first century. Equally happy playing for billions of viewers at the 2008 Olympic Opening Ceremony in Beijing or for children in the public schools, he is a master of communicating through music. In addition to collaborations with the world’s leading conductors and orchestras, Lang Lang frequently steps into different musical worlds, having collaborated with Metallica, Pharrell Williams, and Herbie Hancock.
Lang Lang started playing the piano at age three, gave his first public recital before the age of five, entered Beijing's Central Music Conservatory aged nine, and won First Prize at the International Tchaikovsky Competition for Young Musicians at thirteen. He studied with pianist Gary Graffman at the Curtis Institute of Music and came to worldwide attention at age seventeen as a last-minute substitute with the Chicago Symphony. He made his San Francisco Symphony debut in October 2000 as a Shenson Young Artist and in 2008 he became the first artist featured in the Symphony’s Project San Francisco.
In 2010, Lang Lang was picked as one of the 250 Young Global Leaders by the World Economic Forum and was presented the Crystal Award. He is also the recipient of honorary doctorates from the Royal College of Music, Manhattan School of Music, and New York University. In 2011, he was honored with the highest prize awarded by the Ministry of Culture of the People's Republic of China and received the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany and the Medal of the Order of Arts and Letters in France. Lang Lang was invited to the Vatican to perform for Pope Francis in 2016, and he has performed for international dignitaries, including four US presidents.
Lang Lang has brought music into the lives of children around the world through his work for the United Nations as a Messenger of Peace and through his own Lang Lang International Music Foundation, which aims to cultivate rising pianists, champion music education at the forefront of technology, and build young audiences through live music experiences.