Interview: Lang Lang on Music, Disney, and More

This week, renowned pianist Lang Lang will debut his new special Lang Lang Plays Disney on Disney+. Filmed live at the iconic Royal Albert Hall in London, the performance includes songs from the Disney songbook alongside documentary segments giving a window into Lang’s musical journey.  Ahead of the concert’s debut, we had a chance to chat with Lang Lang about music, Disney, and more.

Laughing Place: When did you first discover the impact of Disney music?

Lang Lang: I first experienced the impact of Disney when I was 3 years old, watching short animated episodes with Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck. The first movie soundtrack I fell in love with was Snow White, which simply overwhelmed me with its beautiful melodies.


LP: What was your approach to performing these Disney classics, but giving them your unique style?

LL: From the beginning of this project I knew I wanted to combine Disney melodies with the styles of my favorite Romantic era classical composers. Think Chopin, Schumann, Liszt, and Rachmaninoff. Though this pairing comes naturally in a way, since Disney songs are already rooted in classical music.


LP: As Disney celebrates its 100th anniversary, you included two of the most important Disney songs with "When You Wish Upon a Star" which is the defacto anthem for the company and "Feed the Birds" which was famously Walt's favorite song. Can you discuss your approach to those two songs in particular?

LL: I’m honored to have worked with my wife Gina on the song "When You Wish Upon a Star,” which is my all time favorite. We did multiple versions in English, Chinese, and Korean. It’s easy to see why “Feed the Birds” was Walt Disney’s favorite song. The Sherman Brothers were incredible song writers. I will always remember playing this song in front of the Disney castle in Anaheim at sunrise. I think there were even birds around me, drawn to the music.

LP: As part of the process to create the album and tv concert, have you discovered something about Disney music that you have taken away from the journey?

LL: I am honored that this special is produced by my label Universal and Disney+. This concert made me love Disney even more, and made me feel like I’m part of the Disney family. The experience of playing “Let It Go” reminded me of opening day at the Disney park in Shanghai, an unforgettable experience.


LP: How do you hope the concert special will inspire children?

LL: I hope this special will inspire more kids to believe in instrumental music and create associations between Disney and piano music. Disney has always been closely tied with classical music, and I hope to amplify this connection.


LP: What is your favorite Disney memory?

LL: My favorite Disney memory would have to be playing music from “The Lion King” in front of the Disney castle in Shanghai, just after the live action movie premiered one month after Gina and I’d wedding. Also my first time in Disneyland, listening to “It’s a Small World” when i was 13 years old in Tokyo.


Lang Lang Plays Disney will premiere on Disney+ on September 15th.

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