Xiaohe Liu's moving performance at the Candlelight Vigil - a poignant tribute to unity and peace. His music not only honored the victims but also resonated the call for change, making a profound impact on all attendees.
Xiaohe Liu's moving performance at the Candlelight Vigil

In the realm of music, the piano stands as a timeless instrument that weaves together melodies and harmonies, evoking emotions that transcend language and culture. It is through the magic of the piano that musicians have the power to transport us to extraordinary realms, touching our souls and leaving a lasting imprint on our hearts. One such musician who has mastered this artistry is the extraordinary pianist, Xiaohe Liu. With his remarkable talent and unwavering dedication, he has graced prestigious events and venues, enchanting audiences with his captivating performances.

Xiaohe Liu’s musical journey has been adorned with appearances at renowned events and venues, where he has mesmerized listeners with his artistry. Notably, he had the privilege of performing at the Candlelight Vigil hosted by the Chinese American Heritage Foundation in the vibrant heart of Boston Chinatown, MA. This solemn occasion, held to commemorate and honor a significant event, provided Xiaohe with a platform to express his deep emotions through the power of music. The atmosphere was palpable as his delicate yet powerful piano melodies resonated with the hearts of those in attendance, creating an indelible connection between artist and audience.

Moreover, Xiaohe Liu’s talent has graced the prestigious TUNES@NOON series at none other than the iconic Harvard University. In this hallowed academic institution, where knowledge and creativity converge, Xiaohe’s performances echoed through the grand halls, captivating students, faculty, and visitors alike. His command over the piano keys and his ability to evoke a range of emotions through his music left an indelible impression on all who had the privilege of witnessing his artistry.

Demonstrating his versatility as a musician, Xiaohe also showcased his prowess in a different setting – the Firebird Pop Orchestra performance at the renowned Boston Museum of Science. In this dynamic collaboration, he seamlessly fused his classical expertise with the vibrant energy of a pop orchestra, transcending genres and captivating audiences with a truly unique musical experience. His ability to adapt and excel in diverse settings underscores his artistry and the breadth of his musical expression.

We recently had the opportunity to sit down with Xiaohe Liu to delve deeper into his musical journey and gain insights into the importance of collaborations, his experiences in performing at various events, and what we can expect from this exceptional pianist in the future. Through our conversation, we discovered the profound impact that collaborative efforts have had on his artistic growth and the deep sense of fulfillment that arises from sharing the stage with fellow musicians. Xiaohe’s passion for creating transformative musical experiences shines through as he recounts his most cherished performances and the invaluable lessons he has learned along the way.

To aspiring pianists and musical performers seeking inspiration and a deeper understanding of the intricacies of a successful musical career, we invite you to embark on this captivating journey with Xiaohe Liu. Through his experiences and wisdom, you will discover the dedication, perseverance, and unwavering commitment required to thrive in the world of music. Prepare to be inspired, enlightened, and captivated as you delve into the stories behind his remarkable performances and gain a glimpse into the essence of being a successful musician.

Join us as we celebrate the beauty of music, the piano, and the extraordinary talent of Xiaohe Liu, and discover the dedication, perseverance, and unwavering commitment required to thrive in the world of music.

Xiaohe, thank you for gracing us with your presence. Can you tell us it feels to perform at the Candlelight Vigil hosted by the Chinese American Heritage Foundation in Boston Chinatown? What was the significance of contributing your music to that commemorative occasion?

The Chinese American Heritage Foundation is one of the most prominent non-profit organizations advocating for the AAPI community. This organization strives to counteract Asian hate, while also acknowledging the contributions that Asians have made to the US. It hosts galas to honor war veterans, organizes events to promote Asian culture to younger generations, and collaborates with other significant organizations to amplify Asian voices in today’s society, all the while commemorating the accomplishments of the AAPI community.

A candlelight vigil was held to remember those who tragically lost their lives in a massacre during this past Lunar New Year in Half Moon Bay, CA. This event brought together mayors, churches, and non-profit organizations from various cities across Western Massachusetts. Since the onset of Covid-19, there has been a rise in hate crimes against Asians, and the need to put an end to mass shootings has become increasingly urgent.

As an Asian individual, witnessing fellow community members experience such a tragedy, particularly on a day meant for celebration and joy, deeply saddens me. I had the honor of being invited to perform the national anthem and “Amazing Grace” at this vigil, in front of mayors, reporters, fellow community members, and other significant figures in the US government. My performance of the anthem served as a tribute to our flag and a call for unity. The music also provided an emotional backdrop during speeches on topics such as gun control, Asian hate, mutual love, and calls for action to halt mass attacks.

As poignant as the words were, the addition of music heightened the emotions of the occasion, moving many to tears. I am truly honored to have had the opportunity to use my music to serve the Asian community in the USA.

The TUNES@NOON series at Harvard University is known for featuring exceptional musicians. Can you describe your performance on that platform and how it felt to showcase your talent at such a prestigious institution?

This performance on the TUNES@NOON series at Harvard University was a uniquely casual experience. As we all know, Harvard is a prestigious institution, boasting exceptional students and professors from a wide variety of fields and countries. I was invited to play the piano alongside Jiawei Cui, an incredibly talented violinist.

Our performance served as a type of ambient music for students as they meandered around campus, enjoyed their lunch, or embarked on casual dates. The environment was relaxed and laid-back, and I felt completely at ease. Occasionally, people would approach us for a chat, or they would clap to show their appreciation, and I would casually acknowledge their praise before carrying on.

In such a prestigious environment, you can never be sure who will be there or who might make an appearance. I’m simply honored to have more platforms to showcase my talent and contribute to communities as much as I can with my music. After the performance, some professors and students approached us to share their feedback and compliments. Engaging in conversation and playing in front of individuals who all share an interest in music was a genuinely wonderful experience.

The Firebird Pop Orchestra performance at the Boston Museum of Science highlights your versatility as a pianist. Can you talk about the challenges and rewards of collaborating with a pop orchestra and how it differs from your classical performances?

Collaborating with a pop orchestra presented an intriguing contrast, given the inclusion of instruments not typically found in traditional orchestras. Performing on a keyboard and speaker certainly felt different compared to performing on a nine-foot Steinway. While I played the more traditional part, my fellow musician was generating all the cool sounds on a programmed synth keyboard.

In my previous performances with the orchestra, I was the soloist, but this time, I found myself as a member. The challenge with pop orchestras is that you must follow the conductor, whereas in a soloist role, the maestro would follow me. Therefore, I had to constantly adjust my volume and touch to blend my sound in, ensuring that I wouldn’t suddenly dominate or, during solo sections, become too soft.

Another challenge was keeping pace with the conductor. Often, the orchestra might slightly deviate from the conductor’s pace, so rather than focusing purely on the conductor, I had to adjust to the orchestra’s tempo and see if I could guide them back to match the conductor’s tempo.

Despite the challenges, it was a super fun experience. I had the opportunity to meet many individuals who work extensively in the pop music field, playing Broadway and commercial music. The tips and tricks I learned from them were the most rewarding part of this experience.

Performing at renowned events and venues often comes with high expectations. How do you prepare yourself mentally and emotionally to deliver your best performances in these prestigious settings?

First and foremost, I set clear goals for each performance. These can range from mastering a challenging section to conveying a specific emotion. I then devote considerable time to mastering the pieces I will be performing. Familiarity with the piece increases my confidence and reduces stage anxiety.

Moreover, mindset plays a crucial role. It’s important to detach from others’ expectations. The most important person to please is myself. It’s not about satisfying my teacher, parents, or friends. I perform for my own enjoyment and fulfillment, not for anyone else. Adopting this perspective helps lift a significant weight off my mind.

Of course, nerves are an inevitable part of any performance, but the key is to stay present and immersed in the moment.

Share with us a particularly memorable moment from one of your performances at a prestigious event or venue. What made that experience stand out for you, and how did the audience respond to your performance?

Image showcasing pianist Xiaohe Liu's triumphant performance at the iconic Carnegie Hall, after his monumental win at the 2023 Concert Artists International Competition. His command of the stage and the emotional resonance of his music continue to solidify his position as a notable figure in the global music scene.
Xiaohe Liu’s captivating performance at Carnegie Hall

Undoubtedly, my most memorable moment was performing in Carnegie Hall. Carnegie Hall represents the pinnacle of prestige for musicians, not just in North America, but globally. It’s every musician’s dream to stand and perform on that esteemed stage.

What made this experience all the more remarkable was that I got to share this moment with my girlfriend. We both clinched the First Prize in the 2023 Concert Artists International Competition and received invitations to perform at the winners’ concert at Carnegie Hall.

Standing on one of the world’s finest stages, doing what I love alongside the person I love most, was an unparalleled experience. It served as a potent source of inspiration, motivation, reassurance, and joy for me.

The audience’s response was overwhelming, with enthusiastic cheers and applause. The piece we performed, Moszkowski’s Suite for Two Violins and Piano, was particularly significant. This powerful piece, punctuated by some of the most beautiful melodies, continually shifts mood and color, keeping the audience on the edge of their seats. Engaging with the audience in such a lively manner added to the memorability of the performance.

Diverse settings and audiences can present unique challenges for a performer. How do you adapt your performance style to cater to different audiences and venues while maintaining your artistic integrity?

My performance approach varies depending on the type of event and the audience.

In a competition setting, adherence to the score is paramount as judges often read along with the score. Here, there is little room for deviation, and the performance must be precise.

However, in a formal classical music concert, there’s more flexibility for artistic expression and experimentation. As no one is meticulously scrutinizing the score, I have the freedom to explore new interpretations. Before these performances, which usually take place in formal concert halls, I conduct research to understand the audience’s demographics, preferences, and cultural background. This enables me to adapt my interpretation to resonate with the audience while maintaining artistic integrity. My goal in these settings is to connect emotionally with the audience while remaining faithful to the essence of the music.

In more casual environments, my approach is often more playful and adventurous. I feel free to experiment and sometimes even push boundaries. Such settings can be a breeding ground for creativity and new ideas. Above all, in these informal performances, it’s about fostering a joyful atmosphere and sharing the excitement of music with the people present.

Being able to perform at prestigious events and venues is a testament to your talent and reputation. How do you select your repertoire for these performances to ensure it resonates with the audience and aligns with the event’s theme or purpose?

Choosing the repertoire for a performance requires careful thought, taking into consideration the nature of the event and the audience’s demographic.

Image of pianist Xiaohe Liu performing at the City of Watertown Council on Aging/Senior Center, showcasing his passion for community engagement and musical education. His performance brings joy and enhances the cultural landscape for the senior community, exemplifying the unifying power of music across age groups.
Xiaohe Liu’s performance at Watertown Senior Center

For instance, if the performance is at the City of Watertown Council on Aging/Senior Center, where the majority of the audience is older, I tend to select pieces from the classical and pop genres that this age group typically enjoys. Conversely, for a younger audience, like at the Tune@Noon series, I might incorporate contemporary music from films, pop culture, anime, and recognizable classical pieces.

Whenever possible, I ask the organizers if there is any particular music they’d prefer. A performance at the MIT chapel was a good example of this; the organizers specifically requested music in the style of legendary film composer, Ennio Morricone. I then researched Morricone’s works and selected additional pieces that complemented his style.

For competitions or recitals, the repertoire selection is often dictated by specific requirements. In such cases, I strive to choose contrasting pieces that highlight my strengths. Naturally, these conditions limit my options to a certain range of works that I am already familiar with or can learn promptly.

Ultimately, the key to curating a successful repertoire lies in understanding the audience and the context and striking a balance between audience expectations, event requirements, and my personal strengths as a performer.

Share an experience collaborating with other artists at a prestigious event and how it influenced your artistic expression.

Playing alongside the Concertmaster of the Songpa Philharmonic Orchestra, Eunjoo Ahn, who made her Carnegie Hall debut a year ago and her debut at the Seoul Art Center IBK Chamber Hall in Korea, was undeniably a rewarding experience. My chamber partner brings a world-class sound to the stage, demonstrating a keen understanding not only from a soloist’s perspective but also from that of a conductor and music director. This focuses not just on individual details, but also on the collective sound of a group.

Her exceptional musicality and expressive interpretation have had a significant influence on my own musical journey. Her exquisite tone, resonating with captivating beauty, is something I strive to emulate in our joint performances. Observing how she listens to and interprets music has imparted invaluable lessons to me. It has introduced me to new ideas and inspiring expressions that I am keen to incorporate into my own performances.


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