By: Lieba Nesis
The Lang Lang International Music Foundation held a cocktail reception and performance on Tuesday November 12th at 1133 Avenue of the Americas with drinks beginning at 6:30 PM. CEO Lukas Barwinski-Brown noted The Lang Lang Foundation’s mission was to ensure that all children have access to music education regardless of their background with a current reach of more than 60 schools comprising over 25,000 students across the country. Every two years a limited number of talented young people from the United States are selected by Lang Lang to participate in masterclasses, mentorship and tutelage from some of the most prominent teachers in the world. Moreover, the opportunity to perform on world renowned stages is unparalleled. Alec Baldwin emceed the evening and his commitment to music is undeniable hosting numerous Philharmonic and Carnegie Hall galas throughout the years. The indomitable Alec, who is going on his sixth child, manages to keep a packed social calendar, a fairly busy acting career and still have time for his ever-expanding family.
The evening contained a who’s who of the music world and their patrons including Gary Graffman, Barbara and Donald Tober, Chris Burch and Cheri Kaufman. the 91-year-old Graffman was one of the star attractions of the evening-a piano virtuoso at the age of 3 who studied with Vladimir Horowitz until a life altering injury on the ring finger of his right hand forced him to quit in 1979. Seven left-handed works were commissioned for Graffman including his 1993 performance of Ned Rorem’s Piano Concerto No. 4. Graffman is also acclaimed for having been the teacher of Lang Lang, Yuja Wang, and Haochen Zhang.
Publicist Jonathan Marder, put together an unforgettable evening with performances by young scholars Maxim Lando and Elliot Wuu that astounded the enraptured audience. Baldwin introduced their concertos with an erudite description of the transformative power of music which directly touches the soul “wielding a special power” that produces a timeless and unerring effect. He announced the inauguration of the Lang Lang International Patron’s Circle that will allow members to become part of this musical “family” with concerts, champagne toasts, and private performances.
Lando and Wuu, ages 17 and 20 respectively, who are part of the Lang Lang gang, regaled the crowd with their expressive performances that were both heartfelt and technically proficient. Lando who won the First Prize at the 2018 Young Concert Artists Auditions recently performed at Carnegie Hall and remains one of the standout up-and-comers. He opened with Nikolai Kapustin’s Toccatina, and concluded dramatically with Vladimir Horowitz’s Carmen. When Lando arrived on stage he was childlike; however, when he began playing the piano all traces of adolescence disappeared- his mannerisms were that of a veteran musician.
Similarly, 20-year-old Elliot Wuu, who met Lang Lang when he was 13, emoted so greatly during his concerto that I was continually reminded of Lang Lang whose tutelage must have impacted Wuu greatly. Wuu was named a 2018 Gilmore Young Artist and has performed in Italy, Poland and Germany. Tonight he opened with Bach’s Capriccio, segued into Beethoven’s 2nd movement Sonata and climaxed with Rachmaninoff’s Etude-Tableax op.39 no.9. The audience roared with approval for these two superstars who undoubtedly have a booming career awaiting.