Saturday, 24 November 2007

My very own Classical Star experience

A few days ago, I had the privilege of attending a concert by the celebrated concert pianistical virtuoso Lang Lang, a young 25-year-old Chinese genius who's taking the world by storm. It's said that he'll carry the torch for the opening of the Beijing Olympics in Beijing, though it's not entirely clear if he'll be expected to play the piano at the time.

Before the concert, I had the privilege of spending a few hours in Lang Lang's company, and when he was later quoted as saying,

"It's important for me to work with singers," he says. "The problem with the piano is that it's easy to forget that you have to breathe in and out. Your hands don't need to breathe. When you play with singers, they show you how to create the phrase."
It's abundantly clear to whom he was referring to, which is none other than moi truly.

Anyway, not to blow my own accordion, here are my impressions of the time I spent with the great phenomenon Lang Lang:

09.30: I arrive at the airport on the plane that brings me. Why can I never find a trolley for my bag? Everyone else seems to have one. Do they only have so many? Like: all the people in the plane minus one?

09.45: My bag just appeared, but a lady stepped in front of me at a crucial moment, and now I'm going to have to wait till it comes round again, assuming it doesn't do so via Mogadishu first! My little airport joke. Frequent fliers will require no explanation.

10.35: Arrive at my hotel to find a note from Lang Lang's publicist asking me to "touch base". What is that name, Lydia? Lynda? Lysander? What happened to the teaching of penmanship in schools?

10.40: My minibar is well-stocked, but there is no bottle-opener. I'm therefore forced to assuage my thirst with something from a screw-top bottle. I can't even see what it is, because I lost a lens in the taxi and my glasses are at the bottom of my carry-on.

12.15: Room service shows up with bottler open.

16.15: Showered and rested after my voyage, I descend to the bar to meet Lester, the publicist. No rush, it turns out.

17.00: Lang Lang apparently busy with some last-minute briefing with the music chief man, you know with the tailcoat, at the front.

18.00: Lang Lang, what kind of name is that? Did I not see him on a bottle of shampoo once?

18.30: Lester arrives and we jump in a Toyota van and rush to the theatre at 17 mph, which is what qualifies as "rushing" these days. If Steve McQueen were alive today for the remake of Bulliitt he could do the whole chase scene on his walker, including the oxygen bottles he'd need because obviously he had lung cancer.

20.15: We get to the theatre, and Lester disappears to get someone to bring me to my seat. When he fails to appear, and I try to make my own way in, a lady with lacquered hair that looks like a construction by Gustav Eiffel bars my passage.

21.20: The intermission, and Lester returns and advises me to have a drink in the crush bar while waiting for someone to take me backstage. I opt for champers, but can't seem to find fourteen quid for one glass -- a price that has substantially increased since I last had to pay for one.

21.30: I finally find a seat, and enjoy the second half of the concert, which consists of a Haydn symphony and does not involve Lang Lang.

22.15: I track down Lester only to discover Lang Lang is by this time halfway to Dusseldorf. He has left me a signed copy of his latest CD, though, which is very kind.

23.45: Back in my hotel, I put the signed CD immediately on eBay, in the hope that I can raise at least the amount of money it costs for my five minutes of hotel Internet access. Fat chance, these days. Bloody downloaders!

More news from the cutting edge of the classical scene coming soon!