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Meet Cheng Liu

Cheng Liu

Majors: Finance and Music Performance, Piano

Hometown: Hangzhou, China

After graduation, Cheng will attend graduate school at the University of Southern California to pursue a master’s degree in music in piano.

Q:  Tell us about your music research.

A: I received a Richter Scholarship to conduct research on “The History and Current Development of Chinese Orchestra” with music professor Stewart Carter in the summer after my sophomore year. Chinese orchestra combines western orchestral style with traditional Chinese instruments. The research was not what people might think of as typical, due to the lack of written documents and scholarly articles for Chinese orchestra. Dr. Carter and I travelled to China to find artists who were in the very first professional Chinese orchestra in China. It was more like a puzzle game than research. We learned about the history and establishment of the first Chinese orchestra, including its development and growth. We also explored the debate as to whether Chinese orchestra is capable of fully presenting the essence of traditional Chinese music.

Q: Who has most influenced you during your time at Wake Forest? 

A: There are two people that I must thank — Dr. Peter Kairoff, my piano teacher, and Dr. Stewart Carter. Both of them have taken great care of me since my first year at Wake Forest — both academically and personally. After graduating, I’m going to attend the same school where Dr. Kairoff earned his doctorate degree in piano. During our research on the history of the Chinese orchestra, Dr. Carter and I spent six weeks together in China. We are going to continue this research as I move on to graduate school. I’ve benefitted from these two great teachers, mentors and friends in ways that can’t be described in words.

Q: Where is the one place on campus you will miss most?

A: It’s the piano practice room where I’ve spent numerous hours, not only practicing, but thinking, meditating, sleeping, laughing, talking and enjoying.

Q: Did you study abroad?

A: I studied abroad in Vienna, Austria, and it was one of the most important decisions I made. The trip influenced my life. I wasn’t quite sure what I was wanted to do after Wake Forest. The experience in Vienna confirmed my post-graduation plan, which is to pursue a master’s degree in music. Music is a part of my life that I can’t live without. It’s not just academic. The Vienna experience helped me realize this. Being in Vienna also taught me to appreciate and capture little but meaningful moments in my life. It helped me slow down.

Q: What activities did you enjoy outside of class.

A: I have been a member of Innuendo, an a cappella group on campus. I was music director and performed on many occasions. This experience was quite different from my piano playing, which is more serious and technical. Singing with Innuendo is spontaneous. People in the group are friends, and sometimes we just harmonize without sheet music. The connection between members is the one thing I enjoyed most.

Q:  What is the best advice you received at Wake Forest?

A: My first-year academic advisor, communication professor John Llewellyn, told me that it’s okay to make a mistake as long as you plan to fix it later.

Q: What makes Wake Forest special?

A: I would say the small classes and environment that allow people to really know each other. It is not just a school, but also a big family.

Q: Advice for first-year students?

A: Do what you really love to do, and do it the best you can.

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