Honorary degree for one of world’s most famous musicians

Lang Lang – the globally-renowned Chinese pianist, educator and philanthropist – is to receive an honorary degree from the University.

Chinese pianist Lang Lang is to receive an honorary degree from the University (main homepage photo courtesy of Haiqiang Lv)


The degree will be conferred during the final event of the Leeds International Piano Competition, for which Lang Lang is the Global Ambassador, on Saturday 15 September at Leeds Town Hall. 

The University is Principal Partner of ‘The Leeds’ – one of the most important classical music competitions in the world – and has played a key role in the triennial event since the first competition 55 years ago. The closing rounds of the 2018 competition got underway last week.

Each year the University honours a number of distinguished individuals from varied walks of life who have contributed knowledge, understanding and expertise in the service of society. Lang Lang will be presented with the honorary degree of Doctor of Music. 

The University’s Vice-Chancellor, Sir Alan Langlands, said: “Lang Lang is one of the world’s finest musicians and has influenced and inspired people in every continent. 

“As an ambassador for the arts through his Foundation, he has shown his passion for education, supporting talented young pianists in their professional development and leading the way in ensuring classical music remains relevant in the 21st century. 

“His name is synonymous with excellence: in music and in education, he is a role model for young musicians the world over.

“It will be an honour to recognise these contributions to global culture and to celebrate the longstanding and rewarding relationships between the competition, Lang Lang and the University.”

Welcoming the announcement, Lang Lang said: “I’m extremely proud of my association with Leeds – with the city, with the piano competition and, thanks to this great honour, with the University, too.

“To receive an honorary degree from the University and to be able to award the prizes at The Leeds after the final performances will make it a very proud night to remember.”

Sir Alan, who is also a trustee of the competition, added: “Our Great Hall is once again the setting for the latter stages of The Leeds, and we are very pleased to be hosting so many interesting public events as part of the competition.”

Adam Gatehouse, Joint Artistic Director of the Leeds International Piano Competition, said: “Lang Lang has achieved a global reputation in the worlds of both music and education. 

“Invited to play for The Queen, Pope Francis and four US presidents, he has used his extraordinary talent and achievements to make a real difference to the world around him.

“Lang Lang shares our passion for nurturing extraordinary young talent and reaching out to a new generation of pianists and music lovers, and we are privileged he is our Global Ambassador and proud of the partnership with the Lang Lang International Music Foundation. 

“We congratulate him on this latest accolade from the University and look forward to welcoming him to the finals of The Leeds.”

Tickets for the Leeds International Piano Competition finals are now sold out, but for tickets to other heats and events taking place during the competition – as well as further information – visit the competition website. The ceremony – along with all remaining rounds of the competition – will be live streamed via leedspiano2018.medici.tv free of charge. 

The sold-out Friday final (14 September) is being shown for free on the big screen in Millennium Square. Three of the five finalists will perform a full concerto with the Hallé Orchestra. The screening starts at 6.15pm, with performances between 7 and 9.15pm. No tickets are required, with catering and a licensed bar available. 

Highlights from the semi-finals will be broadcast on BBC Radio 3 at 1pm on Tuesday-Friday next week (11-14 September). The finals will be broadcast live by BBC Radio 3 and on television on BBC Four on Sunday 23 September.

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