Pioneering Pianist and Cultural Icon Lang Lang Returns Home to Universal Music Group
SANTA MONICA, February 8, 2017 – Universal Music Group (UMG), the world leader in music-based entertainment, today announced a new long-term recording agreement with the world’s most impactful pianist Lang Lang. The agreement, effective immediately, marks Lang Lang’s return to UMG’s artist roster, with future classical albums to be released through Deutsche Grammophon, where he was signed until 2010.
A globally celebrated piano virtuoso, Lang Lang has sold millions of albums around the world, topping classical charts and achieving simultaneous mainstream success. He was nominated in 2007 for a Grammy Award, becoming the first Chinese artist nominated for Best Instrumental Soloist. During the past decade Lang Lang has performed for classical music fans, world leaders, monarchs and dignitaries including President Barack Obama, Pope Francis and Queen Elizabeth II. He has reached televised audiences of billions, performing at the opening ceremony of the 2008 Beijing Olympics and the final of the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Rio de Janeiro.
In making the announcement, Sir Lucian Grainge, Chairman and CEO of UMG, said: “It is a tremendous honour to welcome Lang Lang home to UMG and Deutsche Grammophon. Lang Lang is that exceptionally rare talent who combines artistic excellence and innovative entrepreneurism to deliver exciting new music and experiences to his millions and millions of fans around the world. As someone whom I admire artistically and personally, I’m thrilled that UMG will contribute to the next chapter in Lang Lang’s already distinguished career.”
Lang Lang said: “When I met Lucian and his team I was amazed by their open-mindedness and passion for innovation. This is exactly the spirit we need to promote classical music in the 21st century. My dream has always been to share music with as many people as possible, and I can’t wait to start working with the Universal teams around the world.”
Michele Anthony, Executive Vice President of Universal Music Group, said: “Lang Lang is one of the most respected, renowned and boundary-defying artists in music. He is simply a superstar and his artistry, music and talent have made an indelible impact on culture, attracting massive global audiences for his live performances, televised appearances and social media. By working together and leveraging UMG’s services including film, television, theatrical, live events, merchandising and brand sponsorships, the opportunities are endless.”
Dickon Stainer, President and CEO of Global Classics at Universal Music Group, said: “Lang Lang has blazed a trail from China to the rest of the world. As an artist, he has helped to captivate and inspire millions of new young classical fans globally since bursting into the spotlight as a teenager. We are thrilled to have him return to Deutsche Grammophon and UMG.”
Frank Briegmann, Universal Music’s President of Central Europe and Deutsche Grammophon, added, “Lang Lang is quite simply a unique artist and human being. As a performer, he never fails to captivate his audiences, including me. Over the years we have shared many wonderful experiences together, and I hold him in the highest respect as a musician. Lang Lang is constantly pushing the boundaries of what is achievable and it is great to be able to walk alongside him once again.”
The scale of his musical achievements are mirrored by an unrelenting commitment to charitable causes, most notably through his own Lang Lang International Music Foundation – dedicated to classical music education for children. He was designated in 2013 as a Messenger of Peace by the Secretary General of the United Nations, focusing on global education. He has served as a UNICEF Global Goodwill Ambassador since 2006.
The first new recordings under the agreement will be ‘The Piano Book’ – an album of popular piano music, reflecting his commitment to music education and desire to encourage young people to learn the instrument, which will then be followed by Bach’s Goldberg Variations.
About Lang Lang
Few artists can claim to have the same profound impact on the world of music as Lang Lang has had. As a pianist, educator and philanthropist, as well as an influential ambassador for the arts, Lang Lang has fully embraced new technology and innovation, leading the way in bringing classical music into the 21st century. Equally happy playing for billions of viewers at the 2008 Olympic Opening Ceremony in Beijing or just for a few hundred children in the public schools, Lang Lang is a master of communicating through music.
Heralded by the New York Times as “the hottest artist on the classical music planet”, Lang Lang plays sold-out concerts covering all continents of the globe. He has formed ongoing collaborations with conductors including Sir Simon Rattle, Gustavo Dudamel, Daniel Barenboim and Christoph Eschenbach and performs with all the world’s top orchestras. Lang Lang is known for thinking outside the box and frequently steps into different musical worlds. His performances at the GRAMMY Awards with Metallica, Pharrell Williams or jazz legend Herbie Hancock were hailed by millions of viewers.
For about a decade Lang Lang has contributed to musical education worldwide. In 2008 he founded the Lang Lang International Music Foundation aimed at cultivating tomorrow’s top pianists, championing music education at the forefront of technology, and building a young audience through live music experiences. In 2013 Lang Lang was designated by the Secretary General of the United Nations as a Messenger of Peace focusing on global education.
Lang Lang started playing the piano aged three, and gave his first public recital before the age of five. He entered Beijing’s Central Music Conservatory aged nine, and won First Prize at the International Tchaikovsky Competition for Young Musicians at 13. He subsequently went to Philadelphia to study with legendary pianist Gary Graffman at the Curtis Institute of Music. He was seventeen when his big break came, substituting for André Watts at the Gala of the Century, playing Tchaikovsky’s First Piano Concerto with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra under the baton of Christoph Eschenbach: he became an overnight sensation and the invitations started to pour in.
Lang Lang’s boundless drive to attract new audiences to classical music has brought him tremendous recognition: he was presented with the 2010 Crystal Award in Davos and was picked as one of the 250 Young Global Leaders by the World Economic Forum. He is also the recipient of honorary doctorates from the Royal College of Music, the Manhattan School of Music and New York University. In December 2011 he was honoured with the highest prize awarded by the Ministry of Culture of the People’s Republic of China and received the highest civilian honours in Germany (Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany) and France (Medal of the Order of Arts and Letters). In 2016 Lang Lang was invited to the Vatican to perform for Pope Francis. He has also performed for numerous other international dignitaries, including four US presidents and monarchs from many nations.
About Universal Music Group
Universal Music Group (UMG) is the world leader in music-based entertainment, with a broad array of businesses engaged in recorded music, music publishing, merchandising and audiovisual content in more than 60 countries. Featuring the most comprehensive catalog of recordings and songs across every musical genre, UMG identifies and develops artists and produces and distributes the most critically acclaimed and commercially successful music in the world. Committed to artistry, innovation and entrepreneurship, UMG fosters the development of services, platforms and business models in order to broaden artistic and commercial opportunities for our artists and create new experiences for fans. Universal Music Group is a Vivendi company. Find out more at: http://www.universalmusic.com
About Deutsche Grammophon
One of the greatest names in classical music, since it was founded in 1898, Deutsche Grammophon has always stood for highest standards of artistry. Today, the label continues to be known for musical excellence with a roster of artists including many of the world’s most admired talents such as Bryn Terfel, Anne-Sophie Mutter, Krystian Zimerman, Claudio Abbado, Placido Domingo, Valery Gergiev, Magdalena Kozena, Anna Netrebko and Rolando Villazon. The catalogue also features recordings from many of the finest classical artists in the history such as Leonard Bernstein, Vladimir Horowitz and Herbert von Karajan. Find out more at: http://www.deutschegrammophon.com