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New EP Release: "Frozen Starry", an original composition by Ji Liu

"Frozen Starry" is a piano work co-commissioned by WABC Foundation, Shenzhen Symphony Orchestra Foundation and Johnson & Johnson HOCO Union, in aid of supporting children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) on the "Odd Socks Day".

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Frozen Starry is one of my own compositions written for Solo Piano co-commissioned by WABC Foundation, Shenzhen Symphony Orchestra Foundation and Johnson & Johnson HOCO Union. It's a charitable work that aids supports for children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) on the "Odd Socks Day".

I was born in a small town in northern China in the 1990s. Because of the rural area's high latitude and well-preserved ecology, two things have always existed vividly in my childhood memories: first, the snow and ice in the north in winter; second, the sky full of stars. Ice, snow, and the starry sky are sentiments buried deep in my blood. Most of my childhood spare time was spent alone with science and astronomy books and the piano. So, sometimes after practising the piano at night, my parents would instruct me to look at the stars in the sky to prevent me from getting short-sighted. Then I would stare at the stars and dream of becoming a scientist or an astronaut and running away to the stars. I did not become a scientist or astronaut, but a musician when I grew up. However, what I did in music didn't stop me from aspiring to the stars; on the contrary, I found broader galaxies in the world of music. So, in the opening part of this song, I put the "me" from childhood, the little boy who was often immersed in the world of science and art, full of curiosity, into the inspiration for writing this composition.

In order to depict the warm sun and childlike relaxation under the snow and ice, I inverted the major second interval of the third bar of the melody of "Twinkle, twinkle, little star" into a downward minor seventh. The theme is freely hummed with a Schubertian and almost guitar-like accompaniment in the left hand, a meditation on my emotions as an adult looking back to my childhood. The harmonic direction and flow of the piece are relatively free. Under the simple rhythm and colour changes, they can express the richest and most varied emotions. In the middle of the work, I use the fourth interval and pentatonic scales, unique to Chinese and Oriental music. As a native musician from the East, my cultural roots, genes, and rhythms from Eastern Asia music often naturally flow into my composing process.

The piece starts in the key of E major and develops to C major. Here, I use the 20th-century French composer Messiaen's aggrandisement asymétrique technique to create a colourful and even slightly dissonant witty character, "born different from being different". Music is, in fact, as subtle as mathematics, physics and the universe, where everything is arranged in perfect proportion and balance in a seemingly disorderly development.

When I look up at the sky, the sun and the stars co-exist. Therefore, the point that touches me most in the composition is that I can feel the warm winter sun shining in the river of stars in the music.

Note: The album art cover "Different Wrong Socks and Sports" is created by Si Yun, a student with ASD of WABC Accessible Art Way, for Odd Socks Day. The star-children use art to express their hopes for Odd Socks Day and their wishes for the Winter Olympics.

Recording Session for the EP

In the Picture: Ji Liu rehearsing during the recording session for the EP, December, 2021