Pianist Lang Lang has performed at the Opening Ceremony at the 2008 Summer Olympics, at the White House, and with Metallica and Pharrell Williams at two consecutive Grammy Awards shows. Now he joins the North Carolina Symphony (NCS) for a one-night-only special event concert on March 1 at Meymandi Concert Hall.
Karina Canellakis, the winner of the 2016 Sir George Solti Conducting Award, makes a return appearance to the North Carolina Symphony to lead the program. She has been heralded by the Los Angeles Times as “astonishing” and “the model of a modern musician.”
Lang Lang’s charismatic performance style has earned him a reputation as a classical music “rock star”—but behind the flair and bravado is impeccable technique and consummate artistry. For his NCS program, Lang has selected one of the most difficult works in the piano repertoire, Bartók’s Piano Concerto No. 2, a piece he recorded with the Berlin Philharmonic under Sir Simon Rattle in 2012.
Bartók, in fact, composed the concerto just two years before he moved to Asheville, North Carolina, for a brief time in 1933-34.
While the piece is incredibly challenging—seemingly requiring extra fingers just to play all the notes—Lang Lang has mastered the art of making it seem easy. “You have so many notes, so many things going on, but you still need to have 100% control,” explains Lang. A 2012 New York Times review of a performance of the concerto with the New York Philharmonic noted, “Mr. Lang dispatched the piece with uncanny ease and abundant imagination.”
For all of the complexity in the concerto, there are also moments of delicate lyricism. “There are the most beautiful passages [in Bartók’s Piano Concerto No. 2],” says Lang. As was Bartok’s trademark, he infused the piece with Hungarian folk-tunes; collecting, transcribing, and analyzing the folk music of his native Hungary was his lifelong research interest.
Similarly, Dvo?ákwas inspired by the Czech folk tunes of his native land—and when he visited America in the 1890s, he encouraged American composers to turn to their own unique folk music for inspiration. His Symphony No. 9, “From the New World,” makes references to Native American tunes and African American spirituals. It had immediate success when it was premiered at New York’s Carnegie Hall and has remainedone of the most popular classical works ever composed.
North Carolina Symphony
Special Event Concert
Wednesday, March 1, 2017 at 7:30PM
Meymandi Concert Hall
Duke Energy Center for the Performing Arts
PERFORMERSNorth Carolina Symphony
Karina Canellakis, conductor
Lang Lang, piano
Dvo?ák:Symphony No. 9 “New World”
Bartók:Piano Concerto No. 2
Tickets start at $65
Online: ncsymphony.org (TicketMaster fees apply)
By phone: 919.733.2750 ($8 processing fee applies)
NCS State Headquarters Offices, 3700 Glenwood Ave., Suite 130, Raleigh (No processing fee)
About the North Carolina Symphony
Founded in 1932, the North Carolina Symphony (NCS) is a vital and honored component of North Carolina's cultural life. Its 175 concerts and events annually are greeted with enthusiasm by adults and schoolchildren in more than 90 North Carolina counties—in communities large and small, and in concert halls, auditoriums, gymnasiums, restaurants, clubs, and outdoor settings. The Symphony’s 66 full-time musicians perform under the artistic leadership of Music Director Grant Llewellyn.
NCS’s state headquarters venue is the spectacular Meymandi Concert Hall at the Duke Energy Center for the Performing Arts in downtown Raleigh. The Symphony’s service across the state includes series in Chapel Hill, Fayetteville, New Bern, Southern Pines, and Wilmington, as well as Summerfest concerts at the outdoor Koka Booth Amphitheatre in Cary. Collaborating with performers that range from classical artists, to banjo players, to jazz bands, NCS brings some of the world’s greatest talents to North Carolina.Committed to engaging students of all ages across North Carolina, NCS leads the most extensive education program of any U.S. orchestra. In alignment with the curriculum set by the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction, the Symphony provides training and resources for teachers, sends small ensembles into classrooms, and presents full-orchestra Education Concerts experienced by more than 52,000 4th and 5th graders each year. Music Discovery for preschoolers combines music with storytelling, and at the middle and high school levels, students have opportunities to work directly with NCS artists and perform for NCS audiences.
NCS is dedicated to giving voice to new art, and has given 47 U.S. or world premieres in its history. In March 2017, NCS will appear at The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C., as one of four orchestras chosen for the inaugural year ofSHIFT: A Festival of American Orchestras—an honor that recognizes the Symphony’s innovative community partnerships and creative programming that inspires increased interest in new music. The Symphony will present works by composers with ties to North Carolina, including Sarah Kirkland Snider, Caroline Shaw, Mason Bates, andRobert Ward.
The first state-supported symphony in the country, NCS performs under the auspices ofthe North Carolina Department of Natural and Cultural Resources.