One hundred piano students from California’s Bay Area recently took the stage at Sonoma State University’s Weill Hall to perform one of the most challenging – and unique – concerts they had ever experienced. Each student was paired with another student on one of 50 Roland RP401R digital pianos. Together, they performed a two-handed arrangement of Schubert’s Marche Militaire No. 1 in D major and Brahms’s Hungarian Dance No 5. in F-sharp minor — accompanied by world-renowned pianist Lang Lang.
The talented young pianists from Sonoma, Marin, Alameda and San Francisco counties were hand-selected by the Lang Lang International Music Foundation from nominations by local music teachers. After several months of practice on their own and a master class from Lang Lang himself, they joined together as a “piano orchestra” in a concert that was enjoyed by parents, teachers and the entire community.
The series, dubbed “101 Pianists,” is the brainchild of Lang Lang. Its mission is to share classical music with children around the world, as well as offer piano students a way to perform as a group in more of a social setting, similar to the experience had by their peers who participate in school bands and orchestras. “I started 101 Pianists to give piano students an opportunity to play together,” says Lang Lang. “It started about 15 years ago at one of my concerts where I invited students to join me for an encore – and we had a wonderful time. So, I wanted to do more of these events as a workshop and also a performance for the community. It’s now one of the key programs of my foundation.”
The program visits multiple cities around the world each year with international support from Roland Corporation, who provides 50 pianos for the students to play. “Roland has always been a big supporter of music education,” states Roland Corporation U.S. President & CEO Jay Wanamaker. “We are particularly proud to partner with Lang Lang’s foundation because he introduces the love of playing piano in a unique and modern way that really resonates with young students and inspires them to further develop and share their talents.”
The Roland RP401R digital piano is ideal for students and teachers, featuring state-of-the-art technologies including Roland’s highly acclaimed SuperNATURAL® piano sound which produces the rich, authentic tone of a real acoustic grand; a high-resolution Progressive Hammer Action keyboard with true ivory-feel keys; and a Progressive Damper Action pedal with continuous response for sophisticated piano expression and sound. These refinements allow students to experience a seamless transition from acoustic piano when performing on the RP401R. It also has a host of practice features such as a 3D ambient headphone output for silent practice, intelligent accompaniment, USB memory for recording, and free learning apps.