Before he goes on stage, Chinese pianist Lang Lang needs to eat some dark chocolate and have a power nap.
"Twenty to thirty minutes, not too long. If I sleep too long, it's hard for me to wake up," the 31-year-old bachelor says in a telephone interview, explaining how he gets through a gruelling schedule of 100 concerts a year around the world.
This week, he has two performances with the Singapore Symphony Orchestra at the Esplanade Concert Hall. Last night, he played Prokofiev's Third Concerto at a gala under the baton of Singapore Symphony Orchestra (SSO) conductor Shui Lan.
Sony Music Classical has just released the pianist's recording of this concerto with the well-known Berlin Philharmonic and its conductor Simon Rattle.
Tomorrow's sold-out show is a rare full recital, in which he performs three Mozart sonatas and Chopin's four ballades. "I used to do 150 concerts a year," he says. "One hundred concerts are a lot nicer because that means in the summer I have two months off."
Still, his schedule remains packed enough that he can spare only 12 minutes to talk, in between interviews and preparing for a recital at the Royal Albert Hall in London.
The Shenyang-born pianist, known for his passionate fingering and expressive style, is the flavour of the year again, since United Nations secretary- general Ban Ki Moon last month appointed him a UN Messenger For Peace, to advocate global education.
Lang is one of only a dozen prominent persons named to this role, including primate scientist Jane Goodall. He is also the first Chinese person on the list and accepts the responsibility of being the "face of China" even as he prefers not to focus on it.
"It's a great responsibility, but I really never think about it. I just like to do something that would be very meaningful to myself and to the world and to the Chinese worldwide.
The important thing is focusing on real things, not fantasies like titles."
"Real things" for him include getting more music classes into public schools and encouraging young people to have a well-rounded education.