Sarah Liu ’13 discovered the piano at age six and has been playing music ever since. 

 A native of Albuquerque, New Mexico, Liu grew up experimenting on her elementary school’s piano and—with encouragement from teachers and parents—decided to take lessons. 

“I guess I never quit,” said Liu. 

Liu performed in a recital on Tuesday evening with fellow Bowdoin student Allen Wong ’14. The concert included solo and duo performances as well as several four hands dances, where both performers played on the same bench. The pair performed selections from Brahms, Haydn, and Dvořák. 

According to Liu, high school was when her interest in piano really took off. 

“That’s where piano became important to me,” she said. “I met some really good musicians and decided I really wanted to stick with piano.” 

Although she was already busy fine-tuning her piano skills, Liu also played the violin in her school orchestra. Though she admits her violin playing was “a lot more casual,” she likes how her more social attitude toward the violin contrasts with the often solitary nature of piano playing.  

Liu played for two years with a chamber group in high school and made one of her best friends there. The group was composed of Liu on piano, a violinist, and a cellist. On several occasions they performed on a local radio station on several occasions on behalf of the local youth symphony. 

“It was great that the other two were in the symphony,” said Liu. She gained more performing experience from the opportunity, contributing to her adaptability with group performance. 
So, when Wong asked her to collaborate with him in a group performance, Liu was up for the challenge.  

“This recital was really exciting and fun,” said Liu, who performed solo last semester in a December recital. 

“In high school I performed a lot so the nerves kind of went away,” she said. “I don’t perform so much here at Bowdoin, so last year the nerves came back—but for some reason being on stage with another person made that go away.”

Liu describes Wong’s style as much more “methodical and rhythmic” than her “more lyrical” playing, but said that they work well together. 

“There was a time he was really pushing Mozart, which isn’t really my thing,” she said, “but then we stumbled across the four hands dances and agreed on that. I had never played four hands, which was a challenge—there’s a lot of reaching over each other.” 

Liu said their recital was based on compromise—if one wanted to play a piece, then the other would choose the next song. 

“It felt much less serious [than my last performance],” said Liu. Despite its casual presentation, she has been preparing for this concert since winter break. Some music students are required to give one performance each semester at Bowdoin. 

On campus, Liu is not only an active musician but also an Outing Club leader. A biology major and music minor, Liu will move to Boston after graduation to work in a lab doing stem cell research on zebra fish. 

“I would like to keep playing if I have a piano next year,” she said. “It would be strange not playing for the first time.”