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Lecture-Recital at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music


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On November 26th, 2022 - Dr Ji Liu gave a lecture recital at Reimagining Musical Programming Symposium at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music.

This three-day symposium will bring together interdisciplinary scholars and interpreters of music in rethinking how musical programs of the past might be meaningfully reimagined in the present.


Contributors are invited to consider how contemporary scholarship offers new possibilities for staging musical concerts in ways that innovatively weave together our musical past with our musical present. Efforts to decolonize music programs, recuperate Indigenous song practices, critique canon formation, and engage with historically-inspired performance practices, are just a few approaches at play in this expansive arena of cultural work.


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Creative Programming with Schubert’s Unfinished Piano Sonatas

Ji Liu

Programming has been widely studied as a historical practice, but there has been little work so far that directly considers how unfinished music can be presented in and beyond live concerts, whether in the context of historical or creative programming practices. Key questions include:

•How can we creatively programme unfinished works in their original incomplete forms that are generally thought impractical within traditional concert paradigms?

•How will innovative programming practices help musickers both address this challenge and interpret and perceive music more creatively?

In this lecture-recital, I shall discuss these questions by examining creative yet practical approaches to programming, realising and performing Schubert's unfinished piano sonata D. 571 (lacking recapitulation and coda) with other piano works by contemporary composers such as Rzewski (Winnsboro Cotton Mill Blues), Feldman (Palais de Mari), and myself (Etude For Piano) influenced by Schubert.

The proposals will be based on analysing several shared musical attributes of these pieces, such as tempo choice, structure, dynamic, etc. These connections will lead to coherent rationales showing how Schubert's sonata could be performed effectively within a well-formed programme. It will be presented in such a way that the performance itself becomes not only a showcase of composers' work but at the same time a creative process that combines old fragments and contemporary pieces into a new musical entity. Hence, the discussion will offer new perspectives on programming strategy as a vehicle for developing innovative interpretations and understanding the multi-dimensional and unified relationships between composer, performer, performance, and programme.