Imagine

10:35pm Monday 12 November on BBC ONE

From child prodigy to global phenomenon, Alan Yentob reveals the extraordinary life of Lang Lang, China’s classical music superstar.

With sell-out concerts around the world and a growing popularity that reaches far beyond traditional classical audiences, Lang Lang has redefined the concept of the celebrity concert pianist. His expressive style of playing has at times drawn some criticism but his ability to connect with a younger generation has played a significant role in inspiring over 40 million Chinese children to take up the piano.

In this feature-length documentary, Imagine explores the personal story behind the ‘Lang Lang phenomenon’. It is a story that began with extreme hardship and a dream kindled by Lang Lang’s parents during the bitter years of the Cultural Revolution. The dream soon became an obsession, however, and threatened not only to tear the family apart but nearly ended in tragedy. Despite these difficulties, Lang Lang’s prodigious musical talent and his determination from a young age has led him from China’s industrial city of Shenyang to the height of international fame and recognition as one of the world’s most successful virtuoso pianists.

Now in his 30th year, in the auspicious ‘Year of the Dragon’, he undertakes an epic world tour that includes Shanghai, Beijing, Berlin, London and New York. He plays for the Queen at the Diamond Jubilee Concert, opens his own piano school in China, performs at Carnegie Hall in New York, celebrates his birthday in Berlin (sharing the stage with 50 children), and becomes the first classical musician to headline at Latitude in Suffolk, to rapturous applause from the festival crowd. Imagine profiles a musician at the height of his powers, who, with inspirational talent and an exuberant personality, is bringing new audiences to classical music.

Following tonight’s edition of Imagine on BBC One at 10.35pm, Ai Weiwei – Without Fear Or Favour, viewers are invited to partake in a live online chat with China’s most creatively provocative artist at his home in Beijing.

The online Q&A will take place on Tuesday 16 November between 11.30pm-12.00midnight.

Hosted by Alan Yentob, the online Q&A will be a unique opportunity for viewers to pose their questions to the artist who, earlier last week, made national headlines when he was placed under house arrest by Chinese authorities.

Viewers will be able to submit questions at bbc.co.uk/imagine from 11.30pm, or by using #bbcimagine on Twitter.

The relative anonymity in Britain of Ai Weiwei, who is unquestionably the most famous contemporary artist in China, came to an abrupt end after he was invited to exhibit in the vast Turbine Hall at Tate Modern this autumn.

Imagine explores the private life and personal passions that have shaped Weiwei’s expansive career as an artistic social activist.

Alan joins Ai as the artist oversees the installation of his work and speaks to Ai’s team of technicians that have helped to turn the artist’s vision into a reality.

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