Musician Spotlight: Gerald Liu

Feb 26, 2024

A passionate classical music advocate and champion, Gerald is equally at ease on stage and in the teaching studio. As a dedicated orchestral performer, he regularly performs with the Yakima Symphony, the Seattle Metropolitan Chamber Orchestra, and Listeso Music Group. He has also held fellowships at Montecito, National Repertory, and Round Top Music festivals.

Gerald’s artistry extends beyond orchestral settings, as he has shared the stage with distinguished figures such as Joshua Bell, Emilio Colon, Gretchen Pusch, and many others.

What inspired you to start playing music?

At first, violin lessons (yes, I began with the violin) were an obligation thrust upon by my parents rather than a personal passion. Admittedly, I wasn’t initially eager to put in the extra effort required for practice. However, during my teenage years, YouTube emerged as a platform. While watching classics like Nigahiga and Smosh, I also stumbled across recordings by the great virtuosos Jascha Heifetz, Pinchas Zukerman, Itzhak Perlman, and I was absolutely captivated by the incredibly beautiful sounds that flowed out of their instruments. I would find myself rewatching these performances on repeat, then eagerly picking up my instrument, attempting to emulate their techniques. It became a thrilling challenge for me to recreate what I had seen, and I would practice tirelessly into the night, until I felt like I got close.

Who are some of your musical inspirations

The first time I witnessed Pinckas Zukerman and Itzhak Perlman’s performance of the Violin and Viola duo, Passacaglia by Handel – Halvorsen, my brain exploded. The way the viola resonated with such richness and depth left me dumbfounded, evoking a profound emotional response within me. It reminded me of a cherished childhood memory, where my mother, in a moment of pure love, expressed the significance my sister and I held in her heart. Those truly genuine words were akin to the soulful and honest sound of a viola. When I play the viola in front of an audience, I relive the truly powerful moments in my life, and channel them through the viola.

Lately, I’ve drawn tremendous inspiration from my peers and fellow artists who, like me, are committed to honing their craft and making a difference through music. Witnessing my friends play music to a tear filled audience or hear about how their students are so excited to be studying music fills me with gratitude and a profound sense of purpose. Having such inspiring and talented friends is a tremendous privilege, one that continually motivates me.

What was the injury that brought you to MTF and how did the injury affect your music?

Due to genetics, both of my thumbs do not open very far out due to the skin on my hand being very tight. When I was young, that was never an issue, but playing advanced techniques on the viola made it a constant struggle,

To compensate, I developed unconventional techniques that allowed me to continue playing the viola. However, as I progressed to higher levels of viola playing, these techniques became increasingly painful and restrictive, hindering my performance and artistic growth.

What was your experience with receiving care through MTF and your recovery afterward?

Approximately four weeks after the surgery, I resumed playing the viola, marking my longest hiatus in many years. I was pleasantly surprised to find that once-arduous passages now felt remarkably effortless, thanks to newfound flexibility. Over the past year, I have been preparing for professional orchestra auditions, tackling some of the most demanding viola repertoire. Thanks to the surgery by Physicians 4 Musicians member Dr. Ben Amis, these notoriously challenging passages now feel significantly more manageable. I no longer need to cling to my instrument for dear life, nor do I have to constantly shift positions as I once did.

This surgery, made possible by the generosity of the Musician Treatment Foundation, has opened new doors for my musicality and career. I am so grateful for this lifeline that has been graciously extended to me. It has filled me with renewed strength and wind in my sails to play and create amazing music that blesses my music stand every day.

More about Gerald:

Gerald’s passion for teaching is evident through his private studio, where he has nurtured dozens of students from total beginners to All-State Orchestra members and competition winners. His commitment to education is further demonstrated by his engagement with coaching with the Federal Way Youth Symphony and helping educate underserved communities in Seattle through the Michael J. Owen Music Education Fund.

Gerald’s primary teachers are Mara Gearman, Wayne Brooks, John Largess, and Roger Myers. Gerald holds degrees from the University of Texas in the form of a B.S. in Physics and an M.M. in Viola Performance. His multifaceted journey underscores his unwavering dedication to music, education, and artistic excellence.


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