The Lang Lang International Music Foundation (LLIMF) is a life changer. As a Young Scholar of LLIMF, I’ve had the opportunity to experience an international cultural exchange. I’ve learned that music is a force that can create social change and empower people.
Founded in 2008 by legendary classical pianist Lang Lang, LLIMF’s mission is to transform the face of music education. Nine years later, LLIMF has educated and inspired literally millions of children with its creative initiatives.
“I want every child to have access to music experiences that ignite something wonderful inside of them, just as music delivered something incredible for me,” says Lang Lang. “My hope with my Foundation is to find a way to capture the potential that I see in music to positively transform lives and provide inspiration to kids around the world in a meaningful and sustainable way.”
LLIMF has launched music programs that have been unparalleled in their magnitude of impact.
Their oldest running initiative is the “Young Scholars” program. The program offers support and unimaginable opportunities to selected young pianists, who also serve as classical music ambassadors. Every two years, applications are accepted and seven to eight young pianists from around the world are chosen.
The opportunities are cultural exchanges – Young Scholars are brought together in international meetings to share musical ideas, learn from each other, and perform together.
One of the annual highlights is the Summer Music Summit in Chicago. Young Scholars gather for a week of making music and forming lifelong friendships. Scholars perform solo pieces, as well as chamber works with musicians of the Midwest Young Artists Conservatory, one of the most prominent young artist conservatories in the world.
The week culminates in concerto performances with the Midwest Young Artists Symphony Orchestra, at venues such as Millennium Park’s Pritzker Pavilion and the Ravinia Festival.
Additionally, scholars have the opportunity to study at the famous Oxford International Piano Festival. It’s a thrilling weeklong experience of masterclasses, recitals, and lectures by world-renowned artists – Sir András Schiff, Dame Fanny Waterman, Richard Goode, Yefim Bronfman and Yoheved Kaplinsky are just a few of the stars on the faculty.
During their two-year term and beyond (in which Young Scholars become alumni), they have other opportunities to perform, such as in Lang Lang & Friends concerts and the Lang Lang & Friends annual gala – the October 2016 gala raised over $2 million. The Young Scholars have the chance to participate in masterclasses and learn from Lang Lang and his great teacher, Gary Graffman.
Additionally, the Foundation provides a platform for Young Scholars to give back to the community through performances at both LLIMF’s Play it Forward program events and Keys of Inspiration program school visits.
Yet the Young Scholars program is only one of many of LLIMF’s initiatives. Another of its projects is the Keys of Inspiration (KOI).
KOI is the only program of its kind. Now implemented in schools across the nation and in other countries, KOI gives selected schools a state of the art Roland Piano Lab, teaching materials along with any needed resources, and a financial grant of $30,000 paid annually for three years through the program.
The program targets students in grades 2 through 5. To qualify, schools must meet two criteria: they need to be a Title 1 School and have a 75% minimum enrollment in Free/Reduced Lunch Programs.
Teacher Keith Sanders from the Orchard Gardens School in Boston credits KOI for “helping kids develop a lot of skills, through being creative, working together, and learning discipline.”
“It was great getting better and better. I want to keep playing piano for the rest of my life,” says Javier Osorio, 12, who is learning piano through KOI.
KOI aims for children to build self-confidence, unleash creativity, and embrace music, a universal language that bridges cultural gaps and unites communities, locally and globally.
Other programs include the 101 Pianists program, Allianz Junior Music Camp, and Play it Forward program.
Instead of one pianist on stage, imagine 101 pianists making music together! The 101 Pianists program was born when Lang Lang invited students to join him on stage for an encore during one of his concerts. Since then, the program has reached over 100,000 audience members and 1,400 piano students. One-hundred pianists perform on stage, along with Lang Lang, in different international cities. It is a unique sound that one must experience to fully understand.
Another opportunity for talented young pianists is the Allianz Junior Music Camp – an unforgettable five-to-seven-day experience held in different international cities each year.
LLIMF selects ten young pianists from around the globe to perform together, share music with each other, and meet and learn from Lang Lang. Previous locations of the program include Warsaw, Poland; Munich, Germany; Barcelona, Spain; and Vienna, Austria.
The Foundation also connects to different areas in local communities.
The Play It Forward program enables performers such as the Young Scholars to collaborate with Arts for Healing. Music is used to heal, nurture, and inspire. These uplifting performances make a lasting impact on children, adults, and seniors in various hospitals, senior centers, rehabilitation centers, homeless shelters, and community centers.
LLIMF continues to spearhead innovative initiatives and is committed to inspiring the next generation of music lovers and making music, of all genres, accessible to people of all backgrounds.
“We are growing and bringing the magic of music everywhere we go,” CEO of LLIMF, Leszek Lukas Barwinski-Brown says. “Music has the power to make the world a better place, and with the Lang Lang International Music Foundation, we strive to achieve this every day.”
Thank you LLIMF for spreading a common language that can connect us together and create a meaningful and sustainable impact on our world. You’ve shaped me into who I am today.