M-A freshman Jerry Liu’s composition recognized in Reflections themed art competition

by Linda Hubbard Gulker on April 2, 2015

A grand piano fills up much of the living room at Jerry Liu’s home. That’s not surprising, given that the Menlo-Atherton High School freshman has been studying piano since he was eight years old. What surprised us was that his award-winning composition in the PTA-sponsored Reflections arts competition is written for stringed instruments — a trio of violin, viola and cello, to be exact.

Explains Jerry: “I played the violin in an orchestra from 5th through 8th grade. I thought that composing for a string trio would be an interesting challenge and suit the piece.”

M-A parent Julie Ann Lowry told us about Reflections, which is a theme-based arts competition that covers six arts disciplines: Film Production, Music Composition, Dance Choreography, Visual Arts, Photography and Literature. “It’s been a national PTA program for over 40 years,” she says, “but this is M-A’s first time participating in the program.

“The students create a work of art based on this year’s theme, The World Would Be A Better Place If…  The work is judged by working artists within our community, and the winners at the high school advance to district, then hopefully State and National competition.”

Jerry’s composition is titled Drought, Death, Water. Sitting in the family living room, he takes us through the three sections of his piece, pointing out how the various instruments mimic the sound of rain drops, display anger at the lack of rain and then rejoice when a storm comes, knowing that water will need to be conserved in the future. You can listen to it here.

Jerry studies classical music at the Community School of Music & Arts but he is also involved with music at M-A, but not (surprise again) with the orchestra. He’s a member of the Jazz Band and played piano for the recent school musical, Bye Bye Birdie. And while music plays a big part in his life, he enjoys doing martial arts, solving rubics cubes and playing video, most recently a strategy game called Scrolls.

What he’s not interested in is popular music. “I really don’t pay any attention to it,” he says. “Lately I’ve been listening to the jazz pianist Bill Evans. Classically, I like Beethoven and Chopin.”

We are relieved that he didn’t surprise us by being a fan of Brittany Spears!

Photo by Rebecca Flanagan

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