The Lang Lang International Music Foundation and Christopher Burch invited a select group to a garden picnic for a plein air concert given by three protégées of the great pianist and products of his Foundation. The evening reminded us of a Hollywood version of heaven: white flowers blooming everywhere; beautiful people sipping Dom Perignon
and the transcendent music of talented youth filling the sky.
Just listen, we were told. The evening's aim was to inspire guests to love and support the music, just as the Foundation's aim is to inspire all children to love and be supported by it. "We believe that music has the power to make the world a better place," Chief Executive Officer Leszek Lukas Barwinski-Brown said. "Lang Lang created the organization ten years ago with the hope that all children should have access to music education and to music without regard for background." In South Los Angeles, for example, when they began the program, there was only one music teacher for the entire community school system.
"The biggest difference between us and every other foundation in this country," Barwinski-Brown continued, "our program is in the curriculum of every school with which we collaborate. It is not after school. It is not Saturday. It is in the classroom. And this September, we will teach 24,000 children in 60 schools across the country." Lang Lang handpicks and mentors their Young Scholars Program. Program graduates Chelsea Gao, Maxim Lando and Clayton Stephenson, performed.
Leszek Lukas Barwinski-Brown and Chris Burch. (Photo: Richard Lewin)
"I joined when I was around 10 or 11," Maxim Lando told the room. "These have been the best years of my life. The friendships I've made, the different places they've sent me, the concerts, connections: It's crazy."
We were also treated to a comedic turn by Burch, which turned the standard
charity speech on its head. "I'm actually tone deaf," he deadpanned. "I don't play any instrument, actually can't remember any songs and grew up listening to talk radio. So, why I'm standing here is beyond me. I guess I just want to show off my flowers. I have a lot of insecurities."
For more information: langlangfoundation.org