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Ji Liu

Chinese-born Ji Liu has become one of the most popular pianists in Britain, with a series of hugely successful crossover albums released directly by the popular Classic FM radio network. Ji was born in Shanghai in 1990 into a music-loving, but not professionally music-making, family. He asked for and was given piano lessons beginning at age three and progressed to the Shanghai Conservatory of Music, studying conducting in addition to piano. In 2003 he won the Pinault Piano Competition in New York and garnered a recital debut at Carnegie Hall as a result. Ji went on to study with Dmitri Bashkirov at the Escuela Música Reina Sofía in Madrid and, on full scholarship, with Christopher Elton at the Royal Academy of Music in London. He also studied composition with Ruth Byrchmore at the RAM. Ji won several prizes at the school, released a recording of Gershwin's Rhapsody in Blue on the school's own label while he was there, and graduated with a master's degree in 2013. He also received a series of other major awards during his student years and was selected as a Young Classical Artists Trust artist in 2013. Ji's interests took a turn toward the commercial when he issued Piano Reflections in 2014. The album featured well-traveled classical repertory by Mendelssohn, Beethoven, Tchaikovsky, and Debussy, with Chinese flavoring from a well-known work by Chinese composer Wencheng Lu, but its direct release by Classic FM and its teen pop-influenced graphics represented an altogether different marketing model. The album shot to number one on British classical sales charts and was followed by a similarly successful release in the same vein: Fire & Water, mixing Russian selections with Xian Xinghai's Ode to the Yellow River and Le Onde of Ludovico Einaudi (whose concerto Ji has premiered), appeared in 2018. Ji has appeared with the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra at the Royal Albert Hall and at Philharmonic Hall Liverpool. He has given recitals at Wigmore Hall, the Théatres des Variétés Monaco, and the Royal Welsh College of Music & Drama, and has also appeared at several major Asian venues. He has continued to compose and has amassed a catalog of piano and chamber music compositions including the 12 Transcendental Etudes for Sinfonietta ("Mathful") in 2012. His hobbies include breakdancing.
© James Manheim /TiVo
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