Weishan Liu is one of the world’s leading gu-zheng virtuosos. Her music is deeply expressive, and combines deep feelings, strength, heart, emotion, experience, and wisdom. She began training in the classical style of the gu-zheng from the age of eleven when the acclaimed gu-zheng master Cao Zheng (1920-2002) picked her as his student at the Shenyang Music Conservatory. She later also studied under Yan Li and Zhao Yuzhai.
Her breakthrough came at the 1974 Chinese national traditional music competition where, playing her original composition “The Magnificent Bronze Gorge,” she won first prizes in both the composition and performance categories. She went on to become the top gu-zheng soloist at the Central Song and Dance Ensemble of China, making recordings and performing and touring with them, as well as often performing for visiting heads of state including President Jimmy Carter.
Ms. Liu moved to the United States in 1982 and continued performing her unique style of gu-zheng music. She has performed with the Chinese Orchestras of Berkeley and Los Angeles, as well as with the Bay Area Women’s Philharmonic Orchestra, the Palo Alto Philharmonic Orchestra, and she has performed composer Chen Yi’s modern compositions with the ensemble Earplay. She was a pioneer in the teaching of gu-zheng. Over the past two decades she has trained well over a thousand students, many of whom have become professional performers and teachers themselves. She also founded the San Francisco Gu-zheng Music Society to promote the music of the gu-zhengand traditional Chinese music and culture. This organization gives many community concerts and educational programs, including the big annual concert in San Francisco with a different theme every year, and it frequently invites Chinese and Western musicians to showcase their talents.
It is hard to be serious in completing a task.
Even more so to be both serious and persistent.
To learn gu-gheng,
one must start with the proper techniques;
one must have a serious determined attitude;
one must have unyielding focus to develop
technical mastery and, more importantly,
one needs to have the humble desire
to increase artistic maturity.
This is the way of the gu-zheng
and the way of life!
- Weishan Liu
In 1988, Ms. Liu made her first acclaimed solo gu-zheng recording, The Magnificent Bronze Gorge, featuring the title song, her signature composition. She also recorded an ensemble album with the Dun Huang Music Ensemble in 1994 titled High Moon. She made three more ensemble recordings in 1994 for the Wind Record Company, Masterpieces of Chinese Songs of the 30s, Masterpieces of Chinese Folksongs, and Masterpieces of Chinese Traditional Music. She has participated in other recordings as well. Weishan has also lent her expertise to recording soundtracks for films such as Thousand Pieces of Gold, Indiana Jones & the Temple of Doom, Dim Sum, Eat A Bowl of Tea, Five Chinese Brothers, The Round Eyes in the Twentieth Century, Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story, and Motherland. In 2005, she recorded an arrangement of some of the Thousand Pieces of Gold themes with pianist George Winston for the album Cinema: A Windham Hill Collection.
Ms. Liu’s popularity as a great gu-zhengperformer has led to tours in the United States as well as more than 20 countries. She has started extensively recording her solo repertoire and new solo arrangements and compositions. She released her second solo CD, Modern Bell, in 2006 and her latest one, Great Ocean, in 2007.