On 17 April 2016 the Royal Albert Hall was packed to capacity by London’s youngest classical music fans for an extraordinary one-off concert curated by popstar of the classical world, pianist Lang Lang.

Lang Lang 2016 © Andy Paradise
Audience at Exploring the Piano with Lang Lang and Friends 2016 © Andy Paradise
Lang Lang 2016 © Andy Paradise

Lang Lang has performed 20 knockout concerts at the Hall since 2001, to rapturous public and critical acclaim; his 21st was the first aimed at under 16s.

‘I want every child to have access to music experiences that ignite something wonderful inside of them, just as music delivered something incredible for me.’
Lang Lang


Lang Lang 2016 © Andy Paradise

The pianist has been described by The Financial Times as ‘evangelical in his efforts to spread the popularity of classical music’ and, in 2008, set up the Lang Lang International Music Foundation to encourage more young people to get involved in classical music.

Alasdair Howell 2016 © Andy Paradise
George Harliono 2016 © Andy Paradise

Two of the programme’s young virtuosos – Alasdair Howell (11) and George Harliono (15), were offered the unforgettable opportunity to play on the Royal Albert Hall stage, alone and with Lang Lang as part of the concert.

George Harliono 2016 © Andy Paradise
Alasdair Howell 2016 © Andy Paradise

Lang Lang impressed the crowd of children with fast finger-work and expressive performances of pieces by Liszt, Chopin and a Chinese traditional piece. George and Alasdair also wowed the audience with their own playing – George choosing Balakirev’s fast and technical Islamey, while Alasdair played the emotive Rondo Capriccioso by Mendelssohn. Both virtuosic students were also given the chance to perform duets beside Lang Lang!

Lang Lang 2016 © Andy Paradise
Audience at Exploring the Piano with Lang Lang and Friends 2016 © Andy Paradise
Lang Lang 2016 © Andy Paradise

The crowd had come to hear Lang Lang play, but were also eager to hear him speak about his experiences of learning the piano himself.

Radio 3 presenter Tom Redmond took to the stage to ask Lang Lang about how he made practicing and learning scales more fun, his tricks to stop him getting too nervous before music exams or performances, and about how he feels to be playing such a massive space all by himself. The kids were also amused to learn which was his favourite note – he has 88 of them!

Lang Lang and fans at stage door 2016 © Andy Paradise

After the show there was time for a quick photo, before the young fans and students heading back to their pianos, inspired and encouraged by Lang Lang’s concert.

All photos © Andy Paradise