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Piano teacher Lynn Liu turns dream into reality with Vancouver International Music Competition

Lynn Liu International music competition
Piano teacher Lynn (Yingying) Liu founded the Vancouver International Music Competition.

Lynn (Yingying) Liu has made impressive strides since coming to Canada in 2002 to pursue a master’s degree in piano performance and pedagogy. After completing graduate education at Brandon University, the former Jiangsu resident moved to Vancouver. Here, she started a career as a private piano teacher.

“I had my little studio around the Oakridge area at the time,” Liu tells Pancouver over Zoom. “After a few years, I founded my own school called Vancouver Central School of Music on Broadway.”

However, Liu sold the school in 2018, going to work as principal and music director at Tom Lee Music Academy. Now she teaches students on her own.

For many years as she taught piano, Liu maintained a lofty goal. She dreamed of creating a Vancouver-based international music competition.

“I see a lot of great talented children and young musicians here,” Liu says. “And I also feel there’s a lot of these same talented kids all over the world.”

Because Vancouver is known for its beauty around the world, Liu thought it would be an ideal location.

In 2017, she launched the Vancouver International Music Competition. In addition, she formed the non-profit Canada International Arts & Music Society.

In the first year, contestants performed live or they submitted videos in the preliminary round. Finalists performed live at the UBC School of Music.

“All the finalists came to Vancouver,” Liu recalls. “We had our gala at the Chan Centre.”

Watch the video launching the 2023 Vancouver International Music Competition.

Liu points to three musical categories

In 2021, because of the pandemic, preliminary submissions and the final were conducted virtually. That was followed by online concerts. Then last year, the Vancouver International Music Competition hosted its gala at the Chan Centre for the Performing Arts.

Liu is president of the Canada International Arts & Music Society, which became a registered charity in 2021. Many volunteers helped put on this year’s competition.

The deadline for registration for the preliminary round is June 30. The society scheduled its final for October 7, followed by a gala at the Vancouver Playhouse on October 9.

According to Liu, musicians can enter in the strings, piano, and voice categories. The Vancouver International Music Competition categories contestants in the following age ranges: eight years old and younger; nine to 12 years age; 13 to 17 years of age; and 18 to 35 years of age. Each applicant must pay a fee of $130.

In the preliminary round, registrants must perform two different styles. One piece can be from the baroque or classical period. The other piece must be from the romantic or contemporary periods.

In the final, each contestant is limited to 12 minutes. They can perform one or two pieces within this time frame. Voice contestants must sing opera or classical music.

“The preliminary round is judged by our committee of musicians,” Liu says. “The final round will be judged by our jury, who are invited on-site.”

Meanwhile, the Canadian Music Centre. will present an award for best performer of a Canadian music composition. In addition, the best in each age category will receive a certificate and top winners will collect cash prizes.

“For the first time, we are providing performance opportunities for our top winners,” Liu says.

Proud of her hometown

Liu grew up in the city of Wuxi. It’s about 140 kilometres east of Shanghai.  A prominent historical and cultural centre, her hometown is located on the southern delta of the Yangtze River.

Wuxi also sits on the edge of one of the largest freshwater lakes in China.

Moreover, in her interview with Pancouver, Liu cheerfully talks about Wuxi’s artistic and culinary delights. She proudly declares that this city is known for its ceramics, mud buddies, and delicious lake food and pork ribs.

“It’s kind of a middle-sized city with beautiful lakes, beautiful scenery, and beautiful living,” Liu says.

For university, she moved to the larger city of Nanjing, which is the capital of Jiangsu. There, she obtained a bachelor’s degree in music education. Immediately after completing those studies, Liu headed to Manitoba for her master’s degree.

As she looks back, she acknowledges a sense of trepidation in launching the Vancouver International Music Competition.

“It was a very meaningful and significant step,” Liu says. “And I was worried, of course. At the beginning, I wasn’t sure if I could do this at that time.”

However, with the help of many volunteers, she pulled it off. One of those supporters has been Sean Bickerton, B.C. director of the Canadian Music Centre and chair of the B.C. Alliance for Arts + Culture.

“I just gave him a call,” Liu recalls. “I talked about this as my idea—’I want to do this.’ He thought it’s a great idea… That’s how we cooperated with each other for this event.”

For more information about the Vancouver International Music Competition, visit the website. The gala takes place on October 9 at the Vancouver Playhouse. Follow Pancouver on Twitter @PancouverMedia.

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Charlie Smith

Charlie Smith

Pancouver editor Charlie Smith has worked as a Vancouver journalist in print, radio, and television for more than three decades.

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We would like to acknowledge that we are gathered on the traditional and unceded territories of the Coast Salish peoples of the xʷməθkwəy̓əm (Musqueam), Skwxwú7mesh (Squamish), and Səl̓ílwətaɬ (Tsleil-Waututh) Nations. With this acknowledgement, we thank the Indigenous peoples who still live on and care for this land.