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Guest Lang Lang

In China, the term 'best' translates to 'number 1'. Since he was just two years old, Lang Lang has been striving to be just that. While she was pregnant, Lang's mother would listen to hours of Western classical music hoping her unborn child was taking note. Before he turned two his parents spent half their yearly income on a piano. Talk about pressure!

But Lang says his love for piano is genuine. Born in 1982 in Shenyang, China, he was inspired by certain piano-pounding cat named Tom (of Tom and Jerry fame), and found he had a natural panache for performing at an early age. At nine, Lang moved to Beijing to study at China's Central Conservatory. He and his father lived in a slum, and their lives revolved around Lang's practice and musical development.

By the age of 17, Lang had won every major competition in China, and moved to the U.S. to start a professional career. He studied at the Curtis Institute of Music and was propelled onto the world stage when he replaced well known pianist Andre Watts with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra at the Ravina Festival in 1999. In the years that followed, Lang played Carnegie Hall, The White House, the Nobel Prize concert in Stockholm and the Opening ceremony at the Beijing Olympics. Now, at 29, Lang wants to reach out to young people and inspire pop interest in classical music.

Although some critics find his style too flashy, Lang is out to prove that showmanship and popularity can go hand-in-hand with classical precision.

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