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‘Lang Lang Plays Disney’: Behind The Mind And Music Of Disney’s Latest Live Concert (INTERVIEW)

World-renowned pianist Lang Lang is the latest star to get his own special on Disney+.

In the new concert film Lang Lang Plays Disney, the musician discusses his life, career, and personal philosophies against the backdrop of his very own renditions of Disney’s most popular songs.

The film is a testament to the power and physical range of Disney’s musical catalog. However, its short runtime will undoubtedly leave Disney and music fans wanting to hear more songs and know more about the man sitting at the piano. Fortunately, we at The DisInsider were given the chance to chat with Lang Lang. And in an exclusive interview, we got to pick his brain about his experience with Disney and some of the things that may or may not have been cut out.

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The film dissects Lang Lang’s passion for family and learning, two values prevalent in almost all of Disney’s content. When asked if he had always been aware of that connection, or if it was something he wanted to shape the project around, Lang Lang told us, “I have always enjoyed playing Disney songs and watching the films, long before starting this project. Disney has always been a great inspiration for me. The stellar combination of music and animation is simply unbeatable.”

In the interview, he revealed that his favorite animated Disney movie is The Lion King and that two of his favorite Disney songs are “When You Wish Upon A Star” and “Let It Go.” Without giving too much away about the film, he couldn’t just indulge in his favorite things. He wanted to play songs that everyone would know, love, and connect to. As a result, he admits that there were some parts about his concert performance in the film that were not easy.

“I had the Mary Poppins Fantasy arranged in the style of Liszt, which makes it particularly challenging.,” he said.”

But you would never know if he was struggling or had a hard time playing anything in the film. He’s that good. And on top of learning the music, he makes each classic his own by adding his own “umph.” While he admits he’s proud of the way each of his arrangements turned out, he makes it known that he “had to find a balance between the original music and my own interpretation for each song.”

He also clarified that the versions of his songs are slightly different in the film because he had to learn how to play the music “in his own heart” so that it could flow naturally during recordings and live performances.

And he revealed that he did still consult with many artists prior to the concert. “I had a great consulting team including Thomas Lauderdale from Pink Martini, the great pianist Stephen Hough, and the teams over at Disney as well as Universal Music,” he said. “They gave me tremendous support.”

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But that support pales in comparison to the guests featured throughout the concert. Without giving too much away (again), appearances from Andrea Bocelli and Jon Batiste are all but guaranteed to pique the interest of any music lover.

When asked how the project came to be, Lang Lang revealed that doing a tribute to Disney had actually always been his lifelong dream. So don’t expect this to be the start of a series of films. Lang Lang doesn’t intend on doing Broadway or The Beatles next. More than anything, he told us, “I wanted to help everybody understand how wonderful the piano can be.” And in his experience at his own non-profit, the Lang Lang International Music Foundation, he finds that the best way to do that is particularly with Disney songs.

Now, not every song he wanted made it to the final cut. He admits, “There were a few tracks that didn’t quite make the cut, since I wanted all of the selections to be virtuosic and romantic, not to feel like background piano music.”

But just because the final product doesn’t feature everything he wanted it to doesn’t mean he expects audiences to take away any less from it. “I hope people will feel love, passion, and great joy from the piano arrangements,” he said. “I hope my versions will take Disney music on a new adventure.”

Lang Lang Plays Disney is available to stream exclusively on Disney+ now.

Joined by London’s Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, Lang Lang invites audiences to savor Disney classics such as “Let It Go,” “We Don’t Talk About Bruno,” “You’ll Be in My Heart” feat. English recording artist Alfie Boe, “When You Wish Upon a Star” feat. performer Gina Alice Redlinger and more.

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