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Lang Lang Responds To U.S. media “Anti-US” Accusations

Through his agent and his blog, Lang Lang responded to Chinese media about recent accusation promoted by the likes of Fox News that his choice of song for the White House state dinner performance was “anti-US.”  Below are my translations of some excerpts from an article carried on sina.com.cn of Lang Lang’s response.

郎朗回应在白宫所奏曲目争议:别把艺术政治化
Lang Lang Responds To White House Performance Controversy: Don’t Politicize Art

By Wang Juan, Yangtze Daily, 1/25/2011
The song “My Homeland” brought different interpretations. Yesterday, a reporter contacted Lang Lang’s agent, Li Ning. Li said Lang Lang is currently touring the U.S., and plans to comment on his blog soon: “the two songs Lang Lang performed at the White House were carefully chosen; performing ‘My Homeland’ only meant to express a feeling for his native country.” Li Ning recounted, a month and half ago Lang Lang received his 5th White House invitation to perform. During the performance, Lang played a four-handed piece “Empress of the Pagoda” with jazz master Herbie Hancock, then “My Homeland” solo: “people familiar with music know the Ravel piece is rich in orientalism, and ‘My Homeland’ is a Chinese piece. One east one west, both melodies are beautiful, the right length, very suitable for the occasion.”

After the concert, Lang Lang blogged about his excitement with fans. His Chinese blog said: “I also soloed one of the most beautiful songs, ‘My Homeland’. I am deeply honored and proud, to be able to play a song that praises China, especially in front of leaders from afar; it is like we are saying to them, China is strong, the Chinese people are united.” Li Ning said Lang Lang enjoys “My Homeland” very much, having played it many times in concert.”[Lang Lang] feels, this piece is similar to another piece he frequent, “Yellow River”, as they express an intense feeling Chinese people have for their country. Although they each have a specific background, these songs today transcend their historical context and are in praise of our homeland, the Chinese people’s pride in self-sufficiency.”

Li Ning said, Lang Lang is currently touring in US, and have heard the different opinions. Li Ning mentioned in a phone conversation the day before, Lang Lang hoped the netizens will not misunderstand this performance: “Don’t politicize an artistic choice.”

Yesterday, Lang Lang also wrote a short note on Facebook, expressing his choice of song is based on melody, emotion, and Chinese people’s familiarity, unrelated to anything else.

The White House has made a statement about it too, through ABC News:

White House spokesman Tommy Vietor told ABC News that “any suggestion that this was an insult to the United States is just flat wrong. As Lang Lang has stated before, he plays this song regularly because it is one of his favorite Chinese melodies, which is very widely known and popular in China for its melody. Lang Lang played the song without lyrics or reference to any political themes during the entertainment portion of the State Dinner. He simply stated the song’s title and noted it was well known in China.”

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  1. Goodnews
    January 25th, 2011 at 01:20 | #1

    Good on you Lang Lang. There is nothing wrong to show your love and passion for your own country. Only traitor does not love his/her country.

  2. TonyP4
    January 25th, 2011 at 15:22 | #2

    The song is about anti US during the Korean War. Lang Lang played the melody only. It is ok but not too politically correct.

  3. r v
    January 25th, 2011 at 16:41 | #3

    Russian composer Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture is a traditional July 4th feature, although the piece commemorates Russia’s victory over Napoleon’s army and has no connection to U.S. events.

    US National Anthem was set to the tune of a popular British drinking song.

    If US want politically correct tunes in US, it may have to burn sheet music of most its popular songs.

  4. Charles Liu
    January 25th, 2011 at 21:11 | #4

    Media Matters also looked into who is pumping this story:

    http://mediamatters.org/mobile/research/201101240047

  5. Dan
    January 26th, 2011 at 17:48 | #5

    NPR has a great interview with Lang Lang that should easily silence anyone who thinks he tried to snub the US.

    http://www.npr.org/2011/01/24/133187969/Pianist-Lang-Lang-On-His-Controversial-Music-Pick

  6. tc
    January 27th, 2011 at 08:53 | #6

    Beautiful melody… I love it. I love China.

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