Detroit Lures Lang Lang For Concert, Webcast

Superstar pianist Lang Lang will join the Detroit Symphony Orchestra on its home stage, and he has agreed to share the musical collaboration live with the world.

The orchestra was to announce Friday that the Sept. 28 concert at Orchestra Hall marks Lang’s first live webcast with a U.S. orchestra. The one-night performance featuring Sergei Prokofiev’s “Piano Concerto No. 3 in C Major” can be viewed on the orchestra’s website and its free “DSO to Go” mobile app as part of its “Live From Orchestra Hall” webcast series.

Photo: AP Photo
The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee, Buckingham Palace, London, UK

The performance will be Lang’s sixth return to Detroit. He first came to Philadelphia in 1997 as a 15-year-old prodigy from provincial China to attend the Curtis Institute of Music and has since performed across the globe.

Six days earlier, the Detroit ensemble will perform in New York at Lincoln Center’s Avery Fisher Hall for a program titled “Songs of the Earth: The Symphonic Landscapes of Xiaogang Ye.” Orchestra officials say that appearance will mark other milestones: the U.S. premiere of the complete work and the first time a major American orchestra has played a full stateside concert of music by a single composer of Chinese descent.

The performances are part of a three-week series of Chinese-related programming by the orchestra. The group kicks off its classical season Oct. 4 with world premiere of a violin concerto by Bright Sheng, a Chinese composer and University of Michigan faculty member, and the following weekend, Chinese-American pianist Conrad Tao will perform Beethoven’s “Piano Concerto No. 1.”

The series grew out of relationships the orchestra’s management and members have cultivated with the performers, composers and China’s Central Conservatory of Music, of which Xiaogang Ye is vice president, according to Erik Ronmark, the Detroit ensemble’s artistic administrator.

Christopher Stager, a marketing consultant for the Detroit Symphony Orchestra and the Central Conservatory’s Beijing Modern Music Festival, said Detroit isn’t alone among orchestras showcasing Chinese artists and composers, but it has few peers in terms of the extent of its embrace.

Stager cites “a greater sense of adventure in American orchestras,” which are seeking out diverse programming as volume of works grow and the rapid rise of the Internet makes the music of Asia and elsewhere more accessible to U.S. audiences.

He also credits the efforts of the orchestra’s music director, Leonard Slatkin.

“The DSO is really reaching out,” Stager said. “What Slatkin brings to the Detroit Symphony is an insatiable quest for what’s new, interesting and different, alongside what we know and love.”