From Shanghai to Saint Paul: Violist Shuangshuang Liu


This season, several guest musicians will be performing with us regularly. We know audience members are interested in knowing more about the new people they see on stage. In the first of a series of guest musician interviews, we introduce violist Shuangshuang Liu.

When did you start to play the viola? What drew you to it?

I started playing violin when I was four, and I was majoring in violin when I entered elementary and middle music school. When I was in high school, my teacher suggested that I try viola since the school was really short of violists for orchestra and chamber music. She thought that I had beautiful tone on violin, and I was very musical when playing slow pieces. I didn’t want to switch to viola at first, because at that time people usually thought that only untalented violinists would choose to play viola instead. After I started playing viola, many of my friends kept asking me the reason. I answered with a joke: “I am not a good violinist, so I switched.”

Where has your training and career taken you?

I went to Shanghai Conservatory of Music from fourth grade until the end of high school, then I came to the United States to study at the Bard College Conservatory of Music in 2005. I spent six years at Bard studying in two majors, music and Asian Studies (mainly on Japanese translation). After Bard, in 2011, I went to Curtis Institute of Music for the diploma, and I just graduated in May.

Which teachers have been influential in your life?

I studied with Michael Tree for my entire nine years in the United States. I studied with Ira Weller for six years when I was at Bard. My first year at Bard, I also had one year of study with Steven Tenenbom, and I continually had many coaching sessions with him at Bard and Curtis as well. I also studied with Roberto Diaz for three years when I was at Curtis.

What are your interests outside of music?

Besides playing viola, I like photography, singing Asian pop songs, traveling, taking walks along beautiful places like rivers and lakes. I also want to learn to play guitar.