Chopin Competition Winner Bruce Liu to Perform on Oberlin Artist Recital Series

Finney Chapel is just one of the stops on the artist's year-long globe-crossing tour

April 23, 2023

Cathy Partlow Strauss ’84

Bruce Liu performing at the Chopin Competition in October 2021.
Bruce Liu performing at the Chopin Competition in October 2021.
Photo credit: The Fryderyk Chopin Institute

Rising Canadian pianist Bruce Liu, winner of the 18th Chopin International Piano Competition in Warsaw, Poland, will perform the closing program on the Oberlin Artist Recital Series 2022-23 season. The concert is at 2:30 p.m. on April 30 in historic Finney Chapel. 

Liu will play pieces by Frederic Chopin and Franz Liszt—two great pianist-composers who expanded the piano repertoire in ways that still astound and move artists and audiences. 

Bruce Liu portrait
Photo credit: Yan Zhang

He describes the music on his spring recital programs as "operatic and full of romantic scenes.”

This concert features Chopin—the poet of the piano—at two distinct stages in his tragically brief career: his early time in Poland in the 1820s, and his artistic maturity during the following decade in Paris. Liu has linked each half of the recital with pieces based on Mozart's opera Don Giovanni—Chopin's virtuoso variations on Zerlina and Don Giovanni’s duet and the impassioned fireworks of Liszt’s Réminiscences de Don Juan—both riveting showcases for a pianist. The Liszt is extremely demanding technically and it's considered to be among the most taxing works in the entire piano solo repertoire. Liu will also perform Chopin's emotionally complex Second Sonata in B-flat minor.

"I’m very excited to bring the Chopin program and also combine a Liszt piece," says Liu. "The main theme for me is the Mozart Don Giovanni opera—the Chopin variations and the Liszt Don Juan. This combination has been a dream for me for a long time."

Following this Oberlin performance, Liu will take the same program to New York for his Carnegie Hall debut on May 19—still a milestone moment in any musician's career.

After Liu's win at the career-making Chopin Competition in fall 2021, the now 25-year-old artist was launched onto the international scene, releasing his highly regarded debut album on Deutsche Grammophon and embarking on a marathon globe-crossing tour. He has now performed in important cultural centers on four continents, including Paris, Vienna, Brussels, Tokyo, Seoul, Abu Dhabi, São Paulo, Buenos Aires, Toronto, and Montreal, among many others. 

Album cover of Liu's Chopin recordingHis first album, featuring the winning performances from the Chopin Competition, has received international acclaim including the Critics' Choice and Editor's Choice from Gramophone Magazine, and it was included in the publication's list of Best Classical Albums of 2021. 

The Financial Times wrote, "Spontaneity is a feature that makes his performances feel constantly alive." They continued, "This is a pianist with a captivating musical personality.”

His solo piano recitals and concerto appearances with the world’s most prominent orchestras have been met with enthusiastic reception by audiences and critics.

His performance with the Montreal Symphony in August 2022, earned a review on Bachtrack noting with surprise that "he displayed the poise and polish that would be more typically associated with a pianist with decades of experience."

The Chopin Institute—the presenting organization of the Chopin Competition—maintains a YouTube playlist of all of Liu's performances at the competition in October 2021. His brilliant Final Round performance of Chopin's Concerto in E minor, Op. 11 has racked up more than four million views. The extraordinary reception for his music making at the competition—with live-streaming and the video access that remains online—has elevated his profile and led to near sell-outs in outing after outing. 

Xiaoyu Bruce Liu performing with the Cleveland Orchestra
Bruce (Xiaoyu) Liu performing in the Finals of Oberlin's Cooper International Competition with The Cleveland Orchestra in July 2012. Photo credit: Roger Mastroianni

Born in Paris to Chinese parents, Liu grew up in Montreal. His introduction to northeast Ohio audiences was in 2012 when he captured the Second Prize at the Cooper International Piano Competition, performing Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No. 2 with The Cleveland Orchestra at Severance Hall.

Liu shares, "Oberlin has been a really special place for me because of my personal history and relationships. The Cooper International Competition was my first international competition. It's full of wonderful memories."

He has also been a Fellow at the Oberlin-Como Piano Academy, and counts Oberlin piano professor Dang Thai Son among his most important mentors.

Dang, a legendary figure at the Chopin Competition and its winner in 1980, knows his student's strengths well. He describes that Liu "by his nature is ­dynamic and intense; he hypnotizes the audience."

This will be the first time that Liu is coming back to Oberlin to perform an actual concert. 

"I’m really excited for this, especially after the Chopin Competition. It’s among the first recitals I will be playing in the U.S. since 2021."

Tickets for the Oberlin Artist Recital Series are available online at Oberlin Central Ticket Service and are $35 ($30 OC Staff/Faculty/Alumni, Seniors, Military) and $10 for all students. For more information, contact Central Ticket Service at or call 800-371-0178.


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