Xiaoyu Liu, Winner of the Prix d’Europeby Renée Banville
/ October 1, 2015
Eighteen-year-old pianist Xiaoyu Liu, winner of the 2015 Prix d’Europe competition, stunned the audience with his musical choices at the grand closing gala. His remarkable musicality was plain to see during his performance of Chopin’s posthumous Nocturne Op. 20, and his undeniable virtuosity shone through the Variation Op. 41 by Kapustin, a composer who hails from both the classical piano virtuoso and jazz improvisational traditions.
The Prix d’Europe is yet another notch on the belt of this piano prodigy, who has been collecting accolades from a very young age. In 2012 at the age of 15, Xiaoyu won the Grand Prize at the OSM Standard Life Competition and the silver medal at the Thomas and Evon Cooper International Piano Competition. In 2013 he was awarded first prize at the CFMTA National Piano Competition, and made his debut in April of the same year with the Orchestre symphonique de Montréal under the baton of Jean-François Rivest. When he was 17, Xiaoyu was the youngest participant at the 2014 Concours Musical International de Montréal (CMIM), where he was one of the finalists.
For Xiaoyu, music was an interest that developed gradually. As the son of an artist, he loves to paint and has a passion for swimming, a sport that he enjoys daily. He began studying the piano at the age of 7. At the age of 9 he signed up for the Canadian Music Competition and at the age of 10 he took home the first prize. His performances were so beyond competitors his age that he was placed in more and more advanced categories. In 2011, at the age of 14, he won the first prize against a group of 19-year-old competitors. The same year he began studies at the Conservatoire de musique et d’art dramatique du Québec with Richard Raymond.
Xiaoyu Liu’s successes have helped awaken his interest in a career as a pianist. Since 2011, his calendar of recitals and concerts has included collaborations with the Northern Arts and Cultural Centre, the Orford Arts Centre, and the Newfoundland Symphony Orchestra. He performed in El Salvador in 2013 as a part of his prize at the OSM competition, which included a concert tour in Latin America with the YOA Orchestra of the Americas. In 2014 he appeared with the China NCPA Orchestra in Beijing and in Toronto. He is an invited soloist with the Orchestre du Conservatoire and the Orchestre symphonique des jeunes de Montréal this fall, and will perform a recital at the National Arts Centre in Ottawa in April 2016.
Xiaoyu believes he has been very fortunate since his arrival in Canada at the age of 6. He admits that 18-year-olds can be impatient and a bit nonchalant; however, he is convinced that at this stage the crucial elements are to gain experience and to work on his intellectual development by taking an interest in everything. “You have to be able to perform works from a range of styles and you can never stop exploring. I am curious about everything,” he explains. The year 2017 is a piano year for the CMIM and we are willing to bet that this ambitious young prodigy will be among the candidates.
Translation: Dayna Lamothe