Her playing exuded Viennese schmaltz, capping the extravagant violin solo with brilliant technique and lightness of touch.––Lawrence Budman, Sun-Sentinel (8/2007)
A native of Potomac, Maryland, Dr. Helen Liu is an active performer and educator in solo, chamber and orchestral settings. She is a member of the Hawaii Symphony Orchestra, violinist of Galliard String Quartet, and a performer with Chamber Music Hawai‘i in Honolulu. Dr. Liu is also committed to the role of music in education and has taught students at the elementary, secondary, and collegiate levels. She is currently on the violin and chamber music faculty at Punahou School, Iolani School, BYU-Hawaii, and serves as a string clinician at Hawaii Youth Symphony’s Pacific Music Institute since the summer of 2006.
Dr. Liu holds degrees in violin performance from Stony Brook University (D.M.A.), New England Conservatory (M.M. and G.D. with Concentration in Music-in-Education), and University of Maryland – College Park (B.M.) where her principal teachers include Pamela Frank, Philip Setzer, James Buswell, and Daniel Heifetz. Her chamber music experience is molded by members of world-renowned ensembles such as the Mendelssohn, Cleveland, Guarneri, Borromeo and Emerson String Quartets. She has also spent many summers with the Aspen Music Festival (CO), Castleton Festival (VA), Longy International Baroque Institute (MA), National Repertory Orchestra (CO), National Orchestral Institute (MD), Boston University Tanglewood Institute (MA), and the American Institute of Musical Studies in Graz, Austria. Some of her collaboration highlights include Wu Han, James Buswell, Carol Ou, Carol Rodland, Ani Kafavian, Colin Carr, Arthur Haas, and the Emerson String Quartet. She was featured as scordatura violin for Ligeti’s Violin Concerto (1992) with the NEC Contemporary Ensemble. She was also a member of the New York Amadeus String Quartet, and gave spectacular performances of Mozart piano concertos with pianist Chiharu Sai at Carnegie Hall and Tokyo’s Suntory Hall. In 2007, Dr. Liu was the recipient of two pieces composed and dedicated in her honor: “Vertex” by Korean composer Yoon-Ji Lee, and “L’ours Chinois” by her husband, Hawaii-born bassist/composer Randy Wong.
Prior to settling in Honolulu in 2011, Dr. Liu devoted much of her time teaching in Boston and freelancing with various professional orchestras including Portland Symphony, Orchestra of Indian Hill, New Bedford Symphony, Nashua Symphony, Westchester Chamber Orchestra, and the Harvard Baroque Chamber Ensemble. She’s had the privilege of performing under the direction of notable conductors including JoAnn Falleta, Lorin Maazel, Joseph Silverstein, Bruce Hangen, Marin Alsop, Federico Cortese, Maximiano Valdes, Dante Anzolini, Shuntaro Sato, Miguel Harth-Bedoya, James Gaffigan, Chung Park, and David Hoose. In addition to her classical and baroque performances, she is a founding performer with The WAITIKI 7, a critically- and popularly-acclaimed modern exotica ensemble, with whom she has recorded the albums Adventures in Paradise and New Sounds of Exotica. In her spare time, she enjoys traveling and discovering new tastes in food and drink with her husband and spending time with her parakeets.