Described as "a major talent" by The Classical Source, Dr Ji Liu combines a distinguished and multi-faceted career as a pianist, composer, researcher, and educator.
His professional activities consist of constant and prolific movement between
artistic research, composition and international concerts
from Royal Albert Hall in London to Carnegie Hall in New York
and from Auditorium du Louvre in Paris to the National Centre for Performing Arts in Beijing.Dr Ji Liu ( (BMus, MMus, DipRAM, ARAM, PhD) studied Piano Performance with Professor Christopher Elton and Composition with Professor Ruth Byrchmore at the Royal Academy of Music. He holds a PhD in Music (supervised by Prof. Daniel Leech-Wilkinson) from King’s College London. Dr Ji Liu is the Head of Piano and Keyboard Department at the Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance in London.A balanced blend of creativity, originality and intellectual rigour represent Ji Liu's artistic personality. His extensive repertoire ranges from the Baroque Period to the 21st century, with particular emphasis on the works from Johann Sebastian Bach to Franz Schubert, modern composers such as Frederic Rzewski, Philip Glass, Morton Feldman and György Ligeti, as well as new works by himself and contemporary fellows. The interplay between canonical and modern repertoire is a characteristic element of his performances, reflecting his ongoing research into programming strategies and performance practice in musicking, cultural and social contexts. One of many case studies of such innitatives was his debut at the Bristol Proms, where he juxtaposed John Cage's 04'33" with Bach's Goldberg Variations in a performance directed by Tom Morris, demonstrating the progressive approach to traditional concert paradigms while fostering ingenious new paths to engage with new audiences and thought-provoking performances.As an active international performing artist, previous seasons have seen Ji Liu's extensive concert tours in China's major venues. These performances included a formidable repertoire of Liszt's 12 Transcendental Etudes, Beethoven/Liszt Symphony No.5 and Ji Liu's original composition The Hero Suite. Notably, Ji Liu also paired his original work, Chinese Opera Metamorphosis, with Johann Sebastian Bach's keyboard works and Philip Glass's Metamorphosis. A major highlight was the Schubert Project, a multi-concert series curated in collaboration with the Shanghai Oriental Arts Centre. This ambitious project covered major piano works written during the last 18 months of Schubert's life and contemporary works inspired by Schubert.An advocate of contemporary music, Ji Liu has been at the forefront of bringing new works to global audiences. He gave the world premieres of Ludovico Einaudi's Piano Concerto Domino with the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra in Liverpool and Boris Bergmann's hour-long piano cycle The Richter Scale in London. He has also given the China premieres of numerous works, including Philip Glass's Complete Piano Etudes Book I and II in Shenzhen, and Frederic Rzewski's "People United Will Never Be Defeated! Variations" in Shanghai.
As an active soloist, Ji Liu has appeared at
major venues and festivals internationally
Royal Albert Hall, Royal Festival Hall, Queen Elizabeth Hall, Purcell Room, Barbican Centre, St. John's Square and Wigmore Hall in London; Birmingham's Town Hall, Nottingham's Royal Concert Hall and Lakeside Arts Centre, Bristol's Colston Hall and Old Vic Theatre, Newcastle's Sage Gateshead, Liverpool Philharmonic Hall, Carnegie Hall and 92nd Street Y in New York City, Auditorium du Louvre in Paris, Royal Concertgebouw in Amsterdam, Salle Garnier Opéra de Monte-Carlo, the Kumho Art Hall in Seoul; Henley Festival, Petworth Festival, Bath Festival, Gower Festival, Leeds international Piano Series, Brighton Music Festival and Bristol Proms in the UK, Verbier Festival and Gstaad Festival in Switzerland, the Stavanger Chamber Music Festival in Norway, and numerous major concert halls in China such as Beijing’s National Centre for Performing Arts (NCPA), Shanghai Concert Hall, Shanghai Oriental Art Centre, Shenzhen Concert Hall, Shenzhen Grand Theatre and many more.
Ji Liu has performed with the Philharmonia Orchestra at Royal Festival Hall (Beethoven Fourth Piano Concerto), Dorking Halls (Schumann Piano Concerto in), and at the Henley Festival (Gershwin's Rhapsody in Blue). He has also worked with the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra regularly, including on its China tour (performing Gershwin's Rhapsody in Blue) under the baton of Vasily Petrenko and at the Royal Albert Hall (performing Rachmaninov's Second Piano Concerto) and at the Liverpool Philharmonic Hall. Other UK and International orchestras he has performed with include Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra, Sinfonia Viva, London Concert Orchestra, Mozart Festival Orchestra, Kensington Symphony Orchestra, Cambridge Philharmonic Orchestra, Milton Keynes Symphony Orchestra, Suffolk Philharmonic Orchestra, Wiltshire and Swindon Youth Orchestra, Beijing's NCPA Orchestra, Xiamen Philharmonic Orchestra, Shenzhen Symphony Orchestra, Shanghai Philharmonic Orchestra, Neo Classica Camerata, etc.
At Classic FM's 25th Anniversary, Ji Liu performed for His Majesty King Charles III and distinguished guests at the Dumfries House.
As a recording artist, Ji Liu recorded Gershwin's Rhapsody in Blue with the Royal Academy of Music Symphonic Brass and James Watson for their album "American Icons" (2010) under the Academy's label.
His debut solo album, "Piano Reflections" (2014), released by Classic FM and distributed by Decca Records, reached number one on the UK Classical Charts and made him the UK's classical breakthrough artist of the year. This album was nominated as the "Best Classical Album" in the Chinese Music Awards. His other albums include "Piano Encores" and "Pure Chopin". Classic FM selected the latter as one of the 20 best classical albums of the year.
In his fifth album, "Fire and Water", Ji Liu drew on an ancient five-element theory contained within Chinese philosophy and curated a cross-cultural programme revealing the complexity of the piano. Ji Liu's multi-talent as a composer-pianist shone through his sixth album, "The Book of Moments", featuring his original composition, Sonata-Fantasy No.3, lasting 18 hours, which was premiered by Ji Liu with a live audience and streamed online over a 18-hour-non-stop live performance. This release pinnacled the "Longest Ever Released Instrumental Work" certified by the Guinness World Record.
In 2023, Ji Liu added a new dimension to his ongoing discography and released "The Richter Project", a cross-genre ternary-album project centred by Boris Bergmann's new hour-long composition The Richter Scale written for Ji Liu and Steinway's Spirio | r. "The Richter Project" provides a metaphoric meditation on the environmental, digital, geopolitical, medical, cultural and social cataclysms gripping and transforming the world today.
Published by Master Music Publications, Ji Liu has composed works for orchestra, choir, chamber ensemble and solo instruments.
Ji Liu's composition draws from diversified genres of improvisation, avant-garde, traditional Western forms and harmony and minimalism. And he is particularly interested in reworking existing materials and fragments, performing as composing, discovering possibilities of writing and performing unusually long compositions by contemporary composers in this digital age.
The compilation book of his arrangements and original works, "Fire and Water", received favourable reviews on The Cross-Eyed Pianist, PianoDao, Interlude, etc.
His Fantasia - Frozen Starry (2021) was co-commissioned by Johnson & Johnson and WABC Foundation to support charitable works for children with autism.
As a researcher, Ji Liu has an infinite passion for the music of Schubert.
His fully-funded doctorate research on
Schubert's unfinished piano sonatas
and innovative approaches to performance practices and programming strategies was supervised by Prof. Daniel Leech-Wilkinson at King's College London, where he was a Research Associate of the “Towards Global Histories of Music and Performance" team led by Dr. Katherine Schofield.
His research has been presented at institutions such as the University of Oxford, the Sydney Conservatorium of Music, the Orpheus Institute in Ghent, the University of California and the City University of New York.
A winner of many major awards and competitions,
Ji Liu received the Tabor Piano Award (2005) from the Verbier Festival, CUBS Award (2006) from Switzerland’s UBS Bank, RAM CLUB Prize (2010) from the Royal Academy of Music, Debut Prize from the Hattori Foundation.
He was the First Prize Winner of The Pinault International Piano Competition (2003) in USA, LKH International Piano Competition (2004) in Canada, The Watford International Piano Competition in memory of Christopher Duke (2009), Sheepdrove Piano Competition (2010) and Birmingham (Brant) International Piano Competition (2010, and was an alumnus of the Hotchkiss School Summer Portal (USA), Martin Musical Scholarship Fund from the Philharmonia (UK), Kirckman Concert Society (UK), Young Classical Artist Trust (UK) and Fondation Clavarte (Switzerland).
Ji Liu was nominated as the Best Classical Artist of the Year (2018) at the inaugural Global Awards and received a Guinness World Record (2022) for his 18-hour-long album "The Book of Moments".
An inspiration to many of the next generation of young musicians,
Ji Liu is committed to engaging classical music with the outstanding musicians of tomorrow and has pioneering and artistic pedagogical approaches with creative and research insights which he uses to communicate and inspire fellow students.
He is a Steinway Artist, an Honorary Artist of the Shenzhen Symphony Orchestra Foundation and the recipient of the Forrest Creative and Performance Leadership Fellowship from the Forrest Research Foundation in Australia. In 2023, Shanghai FM94.7 appointed him the Inaugural Music Ambassador.
Since 2018, Ji Liu has served as the Head of Performance at the Kent International Piano Course (KIPC) and currently holds a visiting professorship at Shenzhen University. He is now the Head of Piano and Keyboard Department at Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance in London.