His music and his message are moving, from the luring serenity of a waterfall to the scorching fury of a world on fire.
That's the dramatic transition pianist David Lanz evokes in his latest, powerful orchestral composition, "Skyline Firedance," to be performed with the Utah Symphony at 8 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 24, in Symphony Hall.Unlike his previous reflective recordings such as "Leaves on the Seine" and "Behind the Waterfall," the intent of his music is not to console or make you feel comfortable and safe but to disturb you and inspire action.
"The world's on fire. Our lives are on fire. And we need to do something about it," Lanz said in an interview during a recent Salt Lake visit.
"Fire can either purify or destroy you."
"Skyline" is the pianist's urgent cry for world peace.
"My work is not bombastic, but compared to most new age, it's pretty bold. I want to light a fire under people to work together for a brighter future. I hope people can't help but be moved to change the world situation when they listen to `Skyline."
Critics are calling "Skyline" Lanz's most ambitious and compelling musical statement in his career.
To achieve a new boldness and BIG sound in his music, Lanz traveled to Germany this spring to record with the IFS Philharmonic Orchestra of Munich. Eric Tomlinson, the technical genius who supervised the orchestral soundtracks for "Batman," "Star Wars" and the Indiana Jones series, joined him. The combination, says Lanz, was "an overwhelming, peak experience."
Referring to his music of the '90s as his "fire stage," Lanz is particularly striving to reach young people - "to enlighten them and shake them up."
Lanz's performance with the Utah Symphony is a first-of-its-kind effort by the symphony to play with a "new age" artist.
Promoter Bruce Granath of the Space Agency said the symphony is anxious to expose a younger audience to great music that "doesn't have to be plugged in." The symphony was attracted to Lanz because of his reputation as a superb pianist and talented composer. His style blends pop and classical textures, appealing to people with a variety of musical backgrounds, said Granath.
Describing music as a "divine art form," Lanz says he frequently receives inspiration during meditation. "I try not to take too much credit for my music. I'm a medium for the music."
While many artists depend on drugs for their "inspiration," Lanz says he shuns drugs. "Composing is like a dream, an altered state. I feel my music is life-charged, life-affirming. Drugs are an artificial high that dull your sensitivity."
While Lanz chose to combine his talent with an orchestra for a pumped up sound, solo piano is still the heart of his music.
After completing his recording of "Skyline Firedance" with the Munich orchestra, Lanz returned to the states to cut a separate solo recording of the album's compositions. Both versions - the piano solo and orchestral - are available in a double-album set for the price of one.
Unabashedly idealistic, Lanz says he is dedicating his talent to creating a sound that "can lead to peace."