Described as “a major talent” by The Classical Source, and praised for his “impressive way of handling of keyboard colour” by the Nottingham Post and “sensitive and unpretentious musicality” by the Pianist Magazine
Ji Liu has positioned himself as one of the brightest stars in classical music today. Alongside topping the classical charts on numerous occasions, he also delights audiences around the world, from the Royal Albert Hall in London to Carnegie Hall in New York.
Back in 2010, Ji Liu’s recording of Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue with the Royal Academy of Music Symphonic Brass and James Watson on the Academy’s own label had foreseen the pianist’s future thriving career as a recording artist. In 2014, his debut solo album ‘Piano Reflections’ stormed the UK Classical Charts, reaching number one and making him the UK’s biggest-selling classical breakthrough artist of the year. This album was also nominated as the ‘Best Classical Album’ in the prestigious Chinese Music Awards in 2015. Following this success, Ji Liu went on to release two more acclaimed albums, ‘Piano Encores’ and ‘Pure Chopin’. In 2016, ‘Pure Chopin’ was nominated as one of 20 best classical albums of the year by Classic FM radio. In early 2018, Ji Liu was nominated as ‘Best Classical Artist of the Year’ at the inaugural Global Awards.
In 2018, to coincide both with Debussy’s centenary year and the Chinese New Year, Ji Liu released his new album ‘Fire and Water’, in which the pianist draws on an ancient five-element theory contained within Chinese philosophy. The pianist’s infinite affection for French Impressionism and world of art around it, combined with his Chinese heritage, lead him to deftly juxtapose both popular and much-loved repertoire on the album, such as Einaudi’s ‘Le Onde’ – one of the contemporary composers with whom Ji Liu has worked closely, alongside new arrangements by Ji Liu himself, such as Rachmaninov’s ‘Spring Water’ and Agosti’s rarely recorded arrangement of Stravinsky's ‘Firebird Suite’, in a profound exploration of the complexity of the piano.
As an active soloist, Ji Liu has appeared at major venues and festivals internationally
all of London’s major concert halls such as the Royal Festival Hall, Queen Elizabeth Hall, Barbican Centre, St. John’s Smith Square and Wigmore Hall. He has appeared the St. George's Hall and the new Liverpool Philharmonic Hall in Liverpool; Birmingham's Town Hall, Sage Gateshead in Newcastle; Old Vic Theatre and Colston Hall in Bristol; Royal Concert hall in Nottingham; Concertgebouwin Amsterdam; Auditorium du Louvre and Salle Cortot in Paris, Carnegie Hall in New York, Rachmaninoff Hall at Tchaikovsky Conservatory in Moscow, Salle Garnier Opéra de Monte-Carlo; Théâtre de Champ Fleuri in La Réunion; Shanghai Oriental Art Centre, Shanghai Concert Hall and the Grand Theatre in Shanghai; Suzhou Culture and Arts Center; Kumho Arts Hall in Seoul; the Henley Festival in the UK; the Stavanger Chamber Music Festival in Norway, Verbier Festival and Gstaad Festival in Switzerland, Tongyeong International Music Festival in South Korea; The 3rd Krasnoyarsk International Music Festival of the Asia-Pacific region in Russia and etc.
A hugely creative artist and a natural music communicator both on and off stage, Ji Liu has the rare talent to move seamlessly between musical worlds as diverse as Bach's Goldberg Variations and Messiaen's Vingt regards sur L'Enfant-Jésus. His playing always embraces the distinctive qualities of devotion, originality, purity and authenticity. This was pointed by Pianist magazine that noted of Ji Liu’s debut album in 2013: “Ji Liu has a technique to match any virtuoso, however, it is his sensitive and unpretentious musicality that shines forth in this well-recorded debut album”. The Nottingham Post noted: “I'm not sure if the RCH Steinway has ever yielded more ravishing sounds, with notes not so much played as caressed into life. There was gossamer lightness in some of the quieter Chopin waltzes as well as streams of notes pulsating with ever-changing colour.”
In 2017, Ji Liu performed at Dumfries House for the Prince of Wales as part of Classic FM’s 25th birthday celebrations. The pianist's passion for new music has led him collaborating with some of the greatest composers and orchestras of our time
In 2016, he played the World Premiere of Ludovico Einaudi’s new piano concerto with the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra at the Liverpool Philharmonic Hall. Ji Liu has an infinite passion for the music of Schubert and for innovative performance practice. Apart from his busy performing schedule, Ji Liu is currently working on a part-time PhD project at King’s College London focusing on Schubert’s unfinished piano sonatas and creative programming around them with contemporary music, which will lead to an in-depth thesis and a series of fruitful events highlighting the relationship between music and art.
Last season saw Ji Liu’s debut with Milton Keynes City Orchestra; his return to the Royal Albert Hall to make his concerto debut with the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra under Pete Harrison as well as to the Royal Festival Hall where he performed Mozart’s Piano Concerto K.467 with the Mozart Festival Orchestra and Steven Devine. Ji Liu has also worked closely with the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra, not only on its China tour under Vasily Petrenko but also at the Royal Albert Hall and at its opening season concerts at the Liverpool Philharmonic Hall. He has also worked with the Philharmonia Orchestra both at the Royal Festival Hall and at the Henley Festival.
An inspiration to many of the next generation of young musicians both in his native country of China and abroad, Ji Liu is committed to engaging classical music with the outstanding musicians of tomorrow.
With his Chinese heritage, his international educational background and his unique experience as a creative performing artist, Ji Liu has a pioneering and artistic vision which he uses to communicate and inspire fellow students. Ji Liu has performed with the Wiltshire and Swindon Youth Orchestra, where he worked closely with young musicians both on and off the stage. Ji Liu has also conducted masterclasses at conservatoires such as the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama, the Conservatory Regional Influence De La Réunion in France and the Chaoyang Piano Academy in China, to name but a few. Since 2016, he has been a regular visiting artist to the Kent International Piano Course where he has given both masterclasses and recitals to students from pre-degree to doctoral level as part of his on-going efforts to inspire and share knowledge with other musicians.
Ji Liu was born in China. He started his early musical education at the age of 3. Ji Liu initially studied piano and conducting at the Shanghai Conservatory of Music. Whilst still only 13, he won an international competition to perform a recital at New York's famed Carnegie Hall.
That concert proved to be a major turning point in his career. After that, he relocated himself in Spain and studied under Dmitri Bashkirov at the Escuela Superior de Musica Reina Sofia in Madrid. In 2007, Ji Liu was awarded a full scholarship to continue his study focusing on Piano Performance with Prof. Christopher Elton and Composition with Ruth Byrchmore at the Royal Academy of Music in London where he graduated his Master of Music with both a Distinction and a DipRAM for his extraordinary Final Recital in 2013. Ji Liu is working on a fully-funded research project on Creative Programming on Schubert's Unfinished Piano Sonatas at King's College London.