|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
Press Conference to Designate Lang Lang as United Nations Messenger of Peace
At a Headquarters press conference held in the Dag Hammarskjöld Library Auditorium today, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon designated the world-renowned pianist, Lang Lang, from China, as the newest United Nations Messenger of Peace, with a special focus on global education.
Calling the occasion a “very special day for the United Nations”, the Secretary-General described Lang Lang as “one of the most exciting and accomplished musicians of our time” who had performed for world leaders and had worked with some of the greatest orchestras and maestros. But beyond that, he had also used his art and ability to inspire audiences to improve the lives of children everywhere around the world.
For the past 10 years, Mr. Lang served as a United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) Goodwill Ambassador, Mr. Ban noted. The Organization was thrilled that he had agreed to expand his work as a United Nations Messenger of Peace, a vital role aimed at sharing what the United Nations did and why it mattered.
“Lang Lang will work with us on one of my biggest priorities, global education”, the Secretary-General said, explaining that, with some 57 million school-aged children still out of school, Global Education First Initiative focused on getting every child in the world in school, improving the quality of learning, and fostering global citizenship.
Calling Mr. Lang a true global citizen, the Secretary-General said music had the power to open hearts and minds. Through his playful spirit and profound talent, Lang Lang connected people, not only through his music, but also through his passion to build a better world through education.
Accepting the designation, Mr. Lang said he was humbled to receive the great honour of becoming a Messenger of Peace of the United Nations, joining 11 other such distinguished personalities. He pledged to do his best to bring awareness to the Secretary-General’s Global Education First Initiative.
As children and music were his passion, he said he hoped to motivate children to have dreams by working with communities, organizations and other prominent persons, as well as through his Lang Lang International Music Foundation. He was committed to raising awareness of the importance of improving the lives of children through education.
“In addition, I will focus on fostering global citizenship, and promoting respect and responsibility across cultures. Education is key to development. Our youth are the leaders of tomorrow; we must give them the necessary tools to reach their goals in life and make their dreams come true. It will be my distinct honour to play that role”, said the 31-year-old Lang. He ended his remarks with a performance of Chopin’s Waltz No. 1.
Responding to questions, Mr. Lang said plans for his first trip as a Messenger of Peace were still being worked out, but he hoped to travel soon with the Secretary-General to the Republic of Korea to explore what could be done to help bring proper education to children, not only in that country but in that region as well.
When asked how he would find the time to fit the new extra work as a Messenger of Peace into his already busy schedule, he said during the last 10 years as UNICEF Ambassador, he always found time because the matter was so important to him. “Obviously, playing a concert is one thing. But, to give back to the society I think is even more important as a human being. And to work with the United Nations now, I just feel so honoured. I am really overwhelmed”.
In response to whether he would consider a visit to Syria to entertain children in that embattled country, he said that in the past he had gone to a number of places in situations similar to that in Syria, and had played music there. Those had been some of the most touching experiences for him. “When the time comes, I would love to do it”, he added.
Asked to elaborate on the work of his Foundation and how it would interact with his new role, he said that the five-year old United States-based Foundation had not only started to work with the future generation of young musicians, but also had begun work with different schools, beginning with two schools in the United States in the last three months.
To a correspondent who wanted to know if he viewed his new assignment as a way to also raise his country’s profile in the world, Mr. Lang stated that China had become a very important global player. For that reason, he believed the younger generation of Chinese, his generation, would like to be much more open and work in different parts of the world. “This gives me the perfect platform to start looking into that. Also as a Chinese, it is a great honour to be the first Chinese Messenger of Peace,” he added.
When asked about challenges he had encountered in the past as a UNICEF Ambassador, he said they had varied. In some cases the greatest challenges were financial, whereas in others all that was needed was inspiration. Thus, the main challenge was how to find the best and most effective way of reaching the desired results.
Confirming that he had recently briefly met 16-year-old Pakistani school pupil and education activist, Malala Yousafzai, Mr. Lang described her as an incredible young lady who he would “love to help” in the future if she should ever need him.
In response to a correspondent’s request, Mr. Lang closed the press conference with a rendition of his newest piece, a Chinese composition called “Seaweed”, which he described as “really cool”.
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