Chinese-Canadian clarinetist Colin Liu was born in Beijing in 1985 and immigrated to Toronto Canada at a very young age with his family. Growing up between two very different cultures, he has lived an extremely multi-faceted life.
Colin Liu was formerly a professional ice hockey goaltender. He was an athlete playing in Ontario Provincial Junior leagues, involved in the Chinese National Men’s Junior Team Program, and retired in 2008 after playing for the York University Lions Men’s Varsity Team. In the sport medicine field, Colin Liu is certified in Canada and the USA as an Athletic Therapist/Trainer, Strength & Conditioning Specialist, Kinesiologist, Personal Trainer, and a Red Cross First Responder. Furthermore, he was selected as Medical Clinic Assistant of the Canadian National Olympic Team – Health and Science Team in the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games.
In 2007, Colin Liu obtained an Honours Bachelor of Science in Kinesiology & Health Sciences from York University in Toronto Canada. The following year, he was awarded an Honours Bachelor of Fine Arts in Music Performance (Clarinet/Piano/Classical Voice), and was also the recipient of Advance Certificates in Athletic Therapy and Ice Hockey Coaching.
After completing his undergraduate education, he decided to follow and pursue his musical dream. Colin Liu was awarded a full scholarship and a graduate assistantship at Roosevelt University in a Master of Music degree program in Orchestral Performance (Clarinet). Later on, he attended Northern Illinois University with full scholarship and was awarded a Master of Music degree in Clarinet Performance as well as a Performer’s Certificate.
During his time in the USA, Colin Liu was a member of the Civic Orchestra of Chicago. He is the first Chinese clarinetist in the orchestra’s history, and also played in the Civic Orchestra of Chicago Woodwind Quintet.
In 2010, at the age of 25, Colin Liu was named Principal Clarinet of the Beijing Symphony Orchestra by Music Director Tan Li-Hua. Later on, he successively took on the positions of Concertmaster of the Dun Shan Symphonic Wind Orchestra, and Solo Bass Clarinet of the China National Centre for the Performing Arts Orchestra.
In May of 2013, at the invitation of Maestro Yu Long, Colin Liu joined the China Philharmonic Orchestra as Associate Principal Clarinet.
Colin Liu’s main teachers were John Bruce Yeh, Patricia Wait, and Gregory Barrett. Ricardo Morales, Yehuda Gilad, Karl Leister, Wenzel Fuchs, Joaquin Valdepeñas, and Kimball Sykes were also major influences. Charlene Zimmerman and Anthony McGill were his main teachers of the opera clarinet literature. For the Eb and Bass Clarinets, he has received valuable input from Lawrie Bloom, Paul Demers, Dennis Smylie, Stephan Freeman, Ronald Aufmann, Edward Palanker, David Bourque, Marie Picard, and Theodore Johnson. Always an avid learner, he has participated in the master classes of Karl Leister, Yehuda Gilad, Larry Combs, Eli Eban, Michael Rusinek, Joaquin Valdepeñas, Kimball Sykes, Lawrie Bloom, Jonathan Cohler, and David McGill.
Colin Liu is an alumnus of the Toronto Symphony Youth Orchestra and the National Youth Orchestra of Canada. He has also attended the National Orchestral Institute, Idyllwild Summer Music Festival, National Academy Orchestra, Toronto Summer Music Festival, and Domaine Forget Academy, amongst others. A winner of numerous concerto competitions, he was a soloist with the Guelph Symphony Orchestra, Northern Illinois University Philharmonic Orchestra, York University Orchestra, and the Overseas Chinese Youth Musical Society Orchestra.
In his performing career, Colin Liu was worked with famed conductors such as Lorin Maazel, Riccardo Muti, Sir Neville Marriner, Christoph Eschenbach, Charles Dutoit, Placido Domingo, Sir Andrew Davis, Fabio Luisi, Esa-Pekka Salonen, David Robertson, Semyon Bychkov, and Leonard Slatkin. He has also performed with soloists such as Yo-Yo Ma, Maxim Vengerov, Mischa Maisky, Lang Lang, Rudolf Buchbinder, Jian Wang, Jean Yves Thibaudet, and Yuja Wang.
Colin Liu performs on Backun MoBa Cocobolo Gold Bb/A Clarinets and uses Backun barrels and bells on all the other harmony instruments, all with Backun mouthpieces, Legere reeds and Silverstein Ligatures.