Helen Liu



A native of Potomac, Maryland, Dr. Liu began studying the violin at age 6. She has earned her Bachelor’s degree at University of Maryland, College Park, as a scholarship student of Daniel Heifetz. Dr. Liu earned both her Master’s degree and Graduate Diploma, with a Concentration in Music-in-Education, at New England Conservatory in Boston, where she was a student and teaching assistant of James Buswell. She received her Doctor of Musical Arts degree at SUNY-Stony Brook under the guidance of Pamela Frank and Philip Setzer, violinist of the Emerson String Quartet.

Dr. 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 Hawaii 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.

Prior to settling in Honolulu in 2012, 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, and Westchester Chamber Orchestra. She had the privilege of performing under the direction of notable conductors including JoAnn Falleta, Lorin Maazel, Joseph Silvestein, Bruce Hangen, Marin Alsop, Federico Cortese, Maximian Valdes, Dante Anzolini, Shuntaro Sato, Miguel Harth-Bedoya, James Gaffigan, Chung Park, and David Hoose.

An avid chamber musician, she has collaborated with 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. She has participated in many summer festivals including Aspen Music Festival, Castleton Festival, Longy International Baroque Institute, Boston University Tanglewood Institute, National Repertory Orchestra, National Orchestral Institute, and the American Institute of Musical Studies in Graz, Austria. In addition to her classical and baroque performances, she is the violinist for The WAITIKI 7, a modern exotica ensemble that has toured Europe and across the US, with whom she has given masterclasses and performed school outreach concerts. In her spare time, she enjoys traveling and discovering new tastes in food and drink with her husband and spending time with her three parakeets.

How I got started playing my instrument

When I was around age 6, my parents gave me a cassette tape of violin encores. I had no idea who was playing on the recording, but I immediately fell in love with the sound and wanted to play those poignant pieces myself. I listened to that tape every single day and kept it for many years until I learned how to play Meditation from Thaïs.

Favorite Composer

Brahms… Could I name more? Beethoven, Bach, Bartok…all Bs.

Favorite solo piece

Bach’s Andante from Solo Sonata No.2 in A minor

Other than classical music _____ is on my phone/iPod

Stephane Grapelli, Boyz II Men, Turtle Island String Quartet, Gypsy Kings, older Cantonese and Japanese pop songs, Teresa Tengy