Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Music to thine ears

The Met at night. 9:00 PM. Photo: JH.
Wednesday, September 26, 2018. A rainy day, yesterday in New York, sometimes heavy, sometimes light, with temperatures hovering around the low 70s.

Monday night just past was a musical one for NYSD. I was down at Cipriani 42nd Street for the American Theatre Wing’s annual fund raising gala where they honored Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber with a great concert performed by several singers and musicians (see yesterday’s Diary). And at the same hour on the Upper East Side, Jenny and John Paulson were entertaining at home with a private concert  by the great concert pianist Lang Lang. JH was present at the evening, and reports on the wonderful evening:

This past Monday night, Jenny and John Paulson welcomed 58 friends and music lovers to their home for a concert and dinner to kick off the 10th annual Lang Lang International Music Foundation Gala, which will take place on Wednesday, October 10th at Cipriani on 25 Broadway.  
Cocktails before the performance in the Paulson's living room.
After a lively hour of drinks  guests were treated to a rare in-home concert on the Paulsons’ Steinway Grand.  Two of Lang Lang’s young protégés played first — Maxim Lando, who played Rachmaninoff, and Aliya Alsafa, who played Mozart.  They were followed by Lang Lang himself, who played Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata — a piece he chose to commemorate the Mid-Autumn Festival celebrating the full moon. He then played a beautiful Chinese composition called Autumn Moon On a Calm Lake.

After the recital, guests moved downstairs to the dining room for dinner where our host spoke about the future of music appreciation and the work of the Lang Lang International Music Foundation.  He singled out Sandy Weill (who piped in, “there's no Sandy contribution without Joan Weill). 
Lang Lang introudcing Aliya Alsafa and Maxim Lando, two of Lang Lang’s young protégés
Aliya Alsafa, Maxim Lando, and Lang Lang
Shirley Young
Mr. Paulson’s love of music started at home. He grew up in a family of people who played — both his sisters were serious pianists. In those days they played on an upright, and as they became more accomplished they aspired to buy a Steinway, something the family couldn’t afford. Their father finally did buy them a baby grand —  but it wasn’t a Steinway.

He reminded everyone that there were once more than 160 piano manufacturers in the US operating in the 1920s, and almost every family who could afford one had a piano in their home. There are now only four American manufacturers left, Steinway being one of them. So what did John do? He bought the company — keeping those happy childhood memories alive.
John and Jenny Paulson with Annabelle and Alberto Mariaca
Lang Lang spoke briefly and movingly about why he started his foundation, which mentors exceptional young musicians worldwide.  Their Keys of Inspiration program makes possible music education as part of their school curriculum to more than 6,000 children in underserved elementary schools across the USA. By 2020 LLIMF’s Key of Inspiration program is projected to reach over 30,000 students in eighty schools across the country. Lang Lang passionately believes that giving children access to music experiences positively transforms their lives and provides inspiration in a meaningful and sustainable way. 

Lang Lang left us with a funny story. When he first started taking piano lessons he had a teacher whom he called Professor Angry. She would say things like, “You play like you throw music out of the window,” or “You play like a potato farmer.” “So should I play more like Coca Cola?” Lang Lang once asked. “Yes!" said Professor Angry. And the rest is history!
John Paulson, Yi Ding, Saisai Song, and Chen Zhang
Among the guests joining the Paulsons and Lang Lang were the Foundation's director Leszek Barwinski – Brown,  Charles Avery Fisher, Andre and Lukas Barwinski, Tony Bechara, Joel Bell, Vivian Chiu, Christina Cressey, Tiffany Dubin, Dong Fang, Gabi Garzoni, Sima and Morad Ghadamian, Susan Gutfruend, William Haseltine and Maria Eugenia Maury, Amanda Haynes-Dale, Marife Hernandez and Joel Bell, Julio Martin Herrera and Melanie Herrera, Jeffrey and Danielle Hirsch, David Hyrck, Richard Johnson and Sessa von Richthofen, Maxim and Pipa Lando, Linda Li, Ron Losby, Jonathan Marder, Annabelle and Alberto Mariaca, Christopher Mason,  Roy and Jenny Niederhoffer, Gina Relinger, Dame Jillian Sackler, Saisai Song, Elaine Sourlis, Linda and Ben Steiner, John and Lauren Veronis, Olga Votis, Sandy and Joan Weill, Gene Young, Shirley Young, and Sophie Zhou.

The 10th anniversary Lang Lang International Music Foundation Gala Concert and Dinner takies place two weeks from today. It is chaired by John Paulson and co-chaired by Judith-Ann Corrente, David M. Hryck, Huda Alkhamis-Kanoo, Bruno Wang, Joan and Sandy Weill, Shirley Young and Ann Ziff.  Alec Baldwin hosts and the evening will honor Joan and Irwin Jacobs.  For tickets contact 212.518.7175 or
Jenny and Roy Niederhoffer Susan Gutfreund and Ron Losby
Jenny Paulson, Julio Herrera, and Melanie Mennig
Tiffany Dubin and Olga Votis Richard Johnson and Sessa von Richthofen
Morad Ghadamian, Sima Ghadamian, Artem Grigorian and Sayora Grigorian
William Haseltine
Gene Young, Tony Bechara, Linda Li, and Ben Steiner
Marife Hernandez, Leszek Barwinski-Brown, and Dame Jillian Sackler
John Veronis and Sandy Weill
Maria Eugenia Maury, Lauren Veronis, and Joan Weill
Leszek Barwinski-Brown and Christy Cressey
Shannon Halm, Aliya Alsafa, and Elaine Sourlis
Ron Losby and Christopher Mason

Photogrpahs by Jared Siskin/PMC

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