The reason for this is government subsidies for the arts in China have been severely cut. At the same time the tastes of the people, like in America, has been swayed from classical to pop. Liu says of her present show, "When you have classical music like this I do not think Chinese people can come."
Her last performance in the Bay Area was at the Occidental Community Church (who often have String Quartet and cultural concerts, 707-874-1124) where she played rhythmic and energetic classical and modern songs, many of which she composed herself. Some songs were slow and meditative like High Mountain and flowing stream, while others were hustling and bustling like Hurry to the flower market. For parts of her set she added percussion instruments, adding an exciting flair to the music that would not be accepted traditionally. Liu explains, "This is the first time I've used percussion. In China I wouldn't do this. The songs I added percussion to were not classical, but folk and modern, I combine popular and classical. When you hear my own compositions you can hear different techniques. I learned from the harp technique and have invented some techniques myself."
Liu has been teaching the Giu-Zheng and lecturing on it at museums and universities since her arrival in the U.S. Joined by Todd Brocklehurst she has recorded several soundtracks for the movies, Dim Sum, Eat a Bowl Of Tea, A Thousand Pieces Of Gold, and Indiana Jones. She has done live television broadcasts on KQED and performed with the Bay Area Women's Philharmonic Symphony Orchestra, and the Chinese Orchestra of Berkeley and Las Angeles.
As Peter Stack of the San Francisco Chronicle said of her performance at the Festival of the Harp, "Liu, bending over her instrument as if it were a musical universe at her command, gave an inspired performance, playing two Chinese pieces traditionally associated with with the guzheng as well as one of her own compositions, titled "Bronze Gorge". Developing intricate patterns on the guzheng's powerful bass strings, she showed fiery audacity in treble registers, plucking out melodies in fifths or in tremolo passage that sounded like an otherworldly mixture of mandolin and banjo. Notes are often stretched on the guzheng, giving it a bluesy intonation."
Chinese classical music is not austere like Japanese music; it is joyful and passionate while retaining its elegance. Even as Wei-Shan Liu flips her head during the fast movements she is always consistent with her down-to business technique, and keeps every note perfectly clear. Her CD can be ordered by calling or faxing (415) 751-6549.