Stephen Hough

London, England

Lang Long’s Song


Behind the Music

What Ian is trying to do with The Outlaw Ocean Music Project is fascinating — using music and song to make the stories told in his book all the more evocative. All journalism is important in holding people accountable, but this — these stories of suffering far away from the attention of the masses — can be life-saving and lead to substantial changes. Indeed, Lang Long’s story in The New York Times became the catalyst for an investigation led by U.S. government officials. 

Taking this reporting beyond the facts to emotion through music and art helps “color in” the stories, giving them more depth and making them resonate even more. With my track, “Lang Long’s Song,” I wanted it to seem as if Lang Long’s was recounting the story himself, touching the listener at an even deeper level. I used the refrain “I never want to see the sea again,” something both genuine and intentionally ironic in a book that makes you constantly confront the sea and a melancholy melody that captures the whole subject of The Outlaw Ocean.

Stephen Hough
About Stephen Hough

One of the most distinctive artists of his generation, Stephen Hough combines a distinguished career as a pianist with those of composer and writer. Named by The Economist as one of “Twenty Living Polymaths,” he was the first classical instrumentalist to be awarded a MacArthur Fellowship and he was made a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) by Her Majesty the Queen in the 2014 New Year’s Honours List. Hough has performed with the world’s major orchestras and has given recitals at the most prestigious concert halls and festivals. He has composed works for orchestra, choir, chamber ensemble, voice and solo piano, and his music is published by Josef Weinberger Ltd. Also a noted author, he has been published by The Guardian, The Times, the New York Times and wrote a blog for The Telegraph for seven years. His novel, “The Final Retreat,” was published in 2018 by Sylph Editions and his collection of essays, “Rough Ideas,” was published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux in 2020. He lives in London and New York.

The Journalism behind the Music

All music in this project is based on The Outlaw Ocean, a New York Times Best-Selling book by Ian Urbina that chronicles lawlessness at sea around the world. This reporting touches on a diversity of abuses ranging from illegal and overfishing, arms trafficking at sea, human slavery, gun running, intentional dumping, murder of stowaways, thievery of ships and other topics.

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