Lang Lang & Friends

Yvonna Russell
5 min readSep 23, 2022


Lang Lang and Gina Alice

Fall 2022 in Manhattan is all about a great benefit party. The uber talented international pianist Lang Lang and his lovely wife Gina Alice were joined by friends for a gala concert and dinner to benefit the Lang Lang International Music Foundation. The glamorous black tie evening happened on September 21st at Cipriani 25 in Manhattan.

Kelly Benisson and Candace Bushnell
Ellie Manko, Kristina Allegra Kingston, and Afsaneh Akhtari
Paola Bacchini Rosenshein and Philippe Biga
Cheryl Scharf, Alina De Almeida, and Norma Safdieh

Despite his busy performance calendar and a new album The Disney Book, the award winning Modern classical performing artist values his commitment that all children should have access to a music education, regardless of their background.

Lori Hsieh, David Hsieh, and Steve Lassig.
Teddy Siegel, Joshua Mhoon, Maxim Lando, and Laurie Cumbo

The ten year old nonprofit provides musical creative outlet and exposure with pianos and piano instruction to children around the world. The “Lang effect” methodology has supported 192 schools, 4500 pianos, 182,000 scholars and 1,890,000 students impacted to date. Through cool programs, Young Scholars identifies extraordinarily talented young pianists, Keys of Inspiration provides fully equipped piano labs, teaching material and grants while 101 Pianists provides unique events for musical performances and attendance often with Lang Lang.

Brook Messner-Sheldon and Nathanael Hausmann
Jonathan Burkan, Eric Anton, and Nelson Lee
Wanja S. Oberhof and Anabel Oelmann

Welcomed by the illustrious Lang Lang International Music Foundation Gala Chair John Paulso, Board members Christy Cressy, David Hsieh, David Hryck, Joseph Rallo, Elizabeth Segerstrom, Kyle Wool and CEO of LLMF Lukas Barwinski-Brown to Cipriani 25 on Wall Street for a beautiful night. Under the handpainted Cipriani atrium the evening began with an elegant cocktail party where guests Kelly Bensimon, Candace Bushnell, Kelly Cutrone, artist Steven Ladd, as well as Afsaneh Akhtari, Janna Bullock, Amanda and Carter Burch, Angela Chen, Joan Hardy Clark, Judith Anne Corrente and Wym Kooyer, Laurie Cumbo, Nathanael Hausmann, Joanna Fisher, Chloe Flower, Carole Guest, Michele Gerber Klein, Ellie Manko, Sherrie Mu, Liane Pei, Lydia and David Sarfati, Jean Shafiroff, Daisy Soros, Vivienne Tam, Veronika Vilim and Victoria Wyman mingled near two open bars and hors d’ourves of lamp chops, artichokes scallops, shrimp, bruschetta and porcini mushrooms.

Lukas Barwinski-Brown and John Paulson

Apres the concert was a superb dinner started with thin sliced Prosciutto di Parma with mozzarella di Bufalo followed by Wagyu Strip steak or Sea Bass accompanied by Potatoe Dauphinoise and organic tricolor carrots. A dessert cart of chocolate soufflé with Chantilly cream, Giant strawberries dipped in bittersweet chocolate and fruit tarts with pastry cream beckoned anyone’s sweet tooth.

Barbara Tober

The Foundation’s Ariela Rossberg introduced their first annual Teacher of the Year Award, Davis Cahill of Jefferson Elementary School in Greensboro NC. Lang Lang applauded his commitment to music education and presented him with a check for five thousand dollars.

Oli Coleman, Kelly Cutrone, Matthew Taylor, Kelly Bensimon

Longtime board member Shirley Young, who befriended Lang Lang when he was just ten received a posthumous Lifetime Philanthropy Award . Shirley’s sons, David, Doug, and William Hsieh pledged a $100,000 challenge grant for new Keys of Inspiration school sponsorship in her memory. Barbara Tober generously created the Donald Tober Piano Fund for Scholars, helping talented young pianists with tuition fees, travel to competitions, lessons, and piano maintenance.

Willem Kooyker, Judith-Ann Corrente
Veronika Vilim, David Hyrck, Wyclef Jean, Vivienne Tam

The bombastic Leszek made a fabulous auctioneer as he raised donations from the crowd for Sponsor a School which covers all program expenses including a Roland piano lab in one elementary school between grades 2–5. The charming CEO of the foundation visited every table greeting guests.

Lang Lang and Mauro Castillo

The musical performances were stellar. Lang Lang himself played classic songs from iconic films on his album The Disney Book as well as the Chinese favorite Jasmine Flower. Mauro Castillo from the cast of Disney’s Encanto joined him on stage for a version of We Don’t Talk About Bruno.

Lang Lang and Gina Alice

Lang Lang played piano and his wife Gina Alice sang a romantic rendition of When You Wish Upon a Star. Castillo took the stage once more to perform a Celia Cruz salsa with Young Scholar alumni Maxim Lando on piano. For the finale Lang Lang joined 20 Young Scholars from the foundation on pianos to play Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue.Surprise guest rapper, producer, and philanthropist Wyclef Jean gave an impromptu performance of his hit Santana collaboration Maria Maria for his friend Lang Lang’s 40th birthday.

Wyclef Jean and Lang Lang

The blowout evening ended with ribboned gift bags of Laderach chocolates, Repechage skincare and The Disney Book CD. The evening raised over 1.3 million dollars for the Lang Lang International Music Foundation. A starry night in Manhattan to benefit a great cause.



Yvonna Russell

Writer. I cover the arts, good causes and style. Will work for coffee, wine and Manolo Blahniks.