Photo Of The Week

When assigned to shoot Lang Lang, the 28-year-old classical piano superstar, at first I had no idea who he was. Then Daily Pilot copy editor Bradley Zint, who writes our "Classically Trained" column, told me he was the "Michael Jordan of classical music." I then learned he was huge in the classical world. I arrived early and sat next to other folks who were waiting for him to exit a tour bus. Upon exiting the bus, hands in his pockets and aviator shades over his eyes, he posed for photos. He seemed embarrassed walking with the kids who were giving him a lot of space as he approached the Pacific Symphony's promotional piano set up in front of Renée and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall. One kid, Joel Wenhardt, sat down first. He was eager to show off his skills to Lang, who stood nearby listening. Lang truly seemed impressed by the teenager's playing on the small piano and soon joined him on the bench, nodding his head in approval as they played. Upon ending the short tune, Lang reached over and tapped the finishing notes of the short solo as everyone laughed and applauded. Then no one else had the courage to play, as the bench sat empty for a few awkward seconds. So because no one was willing, Lang humbly agreed to sit down again. When he started playing, he wasn't humble anymore. The kids leaned on the piano, listening to every note in silence, as he made the tiny piano come to life. They knew they were near greatness. It was a big moment. The colorful, paint-splattered piano in front of Lang looked like a child's toy compared to the grand pianos he normally plays. He soloed for more than a minute, playing the entire range of keys. But then he stopped when one of the keys sounded funny. He plunked it a few times, continued the song, then ended abruptly with applause and thanked everyone. When asked what he was going to do next, he said, "Go to the beach."

—Don Leach

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