|© UNICEF China/2007/Wang|
|UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador and renowned concert pianist Lang Lang introduces his new Steinway piano to the media in Beijing.|
By Charles Rycroft
BEIJING, China, 25 April 2007 – UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador and renowned pianist Lang Lang took time out from his busy concert schedule last week to launch his own branded line of pianos at Beijing’s main Steinway & Sons showroom.
Proceeds from the auction of the first ‘Lang Lang’ piano will benefit UNICEF’s programmes for young people affected by AIDS in China’s Yunan Province.
The piano was unveiled two days after the Chinese business community joined with young people, AIDS experts and activists, and government leaders at the first-ever Business Forum on Children and AIDS here. Forum participants discussed practical ways of incorporating children and families into corporate social responsibility strategies.
The meeting also marked the launch of a new guide on HIV/AIDS policy for corporations working in China. The guide has been developed by UNICEF China in partnership with the Australian National Committee for UNICEF, the Global Business Coalition on AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, and AusAID.
Mr. Lang’s piano – which is designed to reach children in a new way – offers a model for an innovative partnership with a business, in this case the piano maker Steinway & Sons.
Speaking to the media, Mr. Lang remarked that pianos traditionally have been large in size and dark in colour, making them intimidating to young people. The new piano he has designed with Steinway is intended to encourage young people to take up the instrument at an early age.
Design elements include a reversible front panel that converts into a whiteboard, and a music desk that runs nearly the length of the keyboard to make musical scores easier to read. While demonstrating these features, Mr. Lang took a pen and wrote “I love UNICEF” in English on the whiteboard.
Realizing a childhood dream
“I cherished the dream of playing on a Steinway on the very day I began learning to play the piano,” said Mr. Lang. “It must also be the same dream for numerous children learning the piano nowadays. Although my dream came true when I was eight, I found that there was no piano specially designed for children.
“Now, with the help of Steinway & Sons, I have realized my childhood dream,” he added.
John Patton, General Manager of Steinway & Sons in China, expressed the company’s great appreciation of its partnership with UNICEF. This alliance began in 2004 with the presentation to UNICEF of a specially designed ‘Peace Piano’ carrying the flags of all UN member nations. Mr. Lang, then a newly appointed UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador, went on to take that piano on a world tour.
Mr. Patton noted as well that Mr. Lang had the unique distinction of being a living artist with a Steinway piano named after him – a tribute to the artist’s outstanding contribution to the design.
The role of music
The ‘Lang Lang’ piano line will be priced at a fraction of the cost of a full-sized Steinway to make the instrument widely accessible to families in China.
UNICEF Representative to China Dr. Yin Yin Nwe praised the new child-friendly instrument. She stressed the important role of music in trauma and stress counselling, which she recalled witnessing firsthand while working with UNICEF in conflict and disaster situations.
To cap off the media event on a youthful musical note, Mr. Lang then played a duet on his signature piano with Huang Nansong, 13, the recent winner of the Steinway International Children and Youth Piano Competition.
Blue Chevigny contributed to this story from New York.