Lang Lang makes surprising admission about hit TV show The Piano

29 April 2024
By Ellie Palmer
Superstar Lang Lang chats to Pianist about series two of The Piano; the Channel 4 show that captured the hearts of millions around the UK

Early last year, a brand-new Channel 4 show popped up on the horizon.

The Piano, a talent competition centred around finding the UK’s top amateur pianists, aired on Channel 4 throughout February and March for the first time in 2023. The premise behind the show seems each episode located in a different train station around the UK. A handful of amateur pianists then take their turns playing in front of passers by. 

One pianist from each episode is then chosen to perform in the 'Final', with one lucky player declared the winner.

Hosted by British TV presenter and writer Claudia Winkleman, popstar Mika and classical pianist Lang Lang, the show exceeded all expectations and quickly became Channel 4’s best-rated new format in over 7 years with an average of 2.7 million viewers per episode.


The Piano Season 2 Claudia Winkleman with a contestant

Claudia chats to one hopeful contestant after her performance in front of the watching public

Lang Lang's admission

Lang Lang, who we of course know and love as arguably the world’s biggest classical piano superstar, made a rather surprising admission when Pianist chatted to him about the show.

“Being on the show has taught me a lot,” he admits.

“The truth is, in the first season, there were a lot of songs I had no idea about. The show would have been a disaster if not for Mika!"

He continues, “This is also, for me, a great chance to learn something new. When they start playing, whether I know the piece or I don’t know it…. It gives me some kind of ideas, how to appreciate this type of music. This is a great thing about this show, it’s not only classical. It’s everything.”


The success of season 1

The variety of talent on display has been one of the many successes of the show. Last year, blind teenage pianist Lucy Illingworth stole the hearts of the country when she performed Chopin's Nocturne in B flat minor for passers-by at Leeds Train Station. In the same season, the audience also witnessed the incredible pop vocals and piano playing of 12-year-old Danny, boogie-woogie playing from a biker, and several tear-jerking performances from retirees.


“You never know what type of music they are going to play,” Lang Lang comments. “Very often, it doesn’t fit their style. It’s just incredible. This season, it’s even more international. You see the whole world.”

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How this season will be different than the first

There’s been a lot of online speculation as to how the makers of The Piano will make this season different to the last. Throughout Season 1, the performers had no idea Lang Lang and Mika were hiding away watching their performance, judging them. They also had no idea there would be a ‘Final’ held at a major concert venue.

Now that the curtain has been lifted, so to speak, how is the show going to maintain interest?

“I actually see this as a good advantage,” explains Lang Lang.

“If there is somebody we feel is special, we actually go out to see them, to encourage them to do better. In the first season, we couldn’t do that. So, I see it as an advantage this time around."

Lang Lang also feels that the lack of mystery in this series has in fact led to even better performances from the contestants, who now feel more determined than ever to perform well.

“This season seems like they the pianists have more emotion. They know that we will review their performance, and then we will choose one of them.

“This season it is like they are giving an Oscars performance! Lots of tears. Joyful tears.”


The Piano Season 2

Season 2 features a different set of train stations than Season 1, including Liverpool, Manchester and Cardiff


As for early favourites?

“We’re not allowed to say it… but we do have our favourites. There was one player that blew the roof off. It was pretty mind-blowing.”

Episode 1 of the new season can be streamed on Channel 4 here. Episode 2 airs live on Channel 4 on Sunday 5 May at 8pm.

All images: ©Channel 4 / Nic Serpell-Rand