Messiah Lutheran Church continues its too-good-to-be-true summer concert series with an exciting recital by pianist Andrew Li.
A recent graduate of Lexington High School in Massachusetts, Li has been performing piano since he was 7, stacking up awards and accolades.
Li’s brother, George, is also an accomplished pianist, with an album recorded for Warner Classics at Marinsky Concert Hall in St. Petersburg, Russia.
“Back when I was a toddler, I would travel around with him and be able to see all of the places he performed,” Li said of his older brother. “Watching him perform has taught me so much about what it means to really be a pianist. When he is around, he is always willing to help me practice and he also provides good advice, so I wouldn’t be anywhere without him.”
Both have studied under Dorothy Shi, formerly with the China National Symphony Orchestra, and renowned professor Wha Kyung Byun of the New England Conservatory. Despite their similar tutelage, Andrew has developed his own style apart from his older brother.
“We’re two different musicians,” Li said. “My teacher came up with an analogy. In terms of color, for me, I’m very specific about what colors I want and am very direct while [George] likes to develop different shades of colors. She saw that from many years of observing our playing styles. It’s good to get his interpretations and compare my own with him.”
Li made a big impression from a young age. Beginning at the age of 7, Li won the Bay State Piano competition five years in a row. In 2009 and 2010, Li won first prize in the Steinway Competition in Boston. He has won top honors at the Boston Symphony Orchestra Youth Concerto Competition and has performed Grieg’s Piano Concerto with the BSO and Symphony Pro Musica.
Being such a young performer comes with its own set of trials.
“One of the most challenging moments was the Hilton Head competition last year, just because it was during the busiest time of the year for me, ”Li said. “... I had to keep up with school work while I was participating in the competition. I had to prepare so many newer pieces and I just started running out of time.”
After the summer Li is continuing his education with a joint program between the New England Conservatory and Harvard, where he hopes to develop into a world-class pianist.
“I’ve always marveled at Carnegie Hall,” Li said. “It would be an amazing venue to perform. In the near future I’d like to perform more around the U.S. and then maybe branch off internationally.”
But in the meantime, Li still enjoys regular teenage things like watching the World Cup and following all of the Boston sports teams.
Li has made his mark performing works by Grieg, Chopin and Liszt, but he is looking forward to performing one of his favorite pieces July 13 in Savannah during the free Arts at Messiah concert.
“One of the new pieces I’m bringing to Savannah is Stravinsky’s ‘Petrushka’,” Li said. “It’s an enormous work in three movements. It’s based on a ballet, but it has so many different colors. It is extremely technically difficult. Every time I work on it, it’s very hard, but it’s also fun to explore and manipulate each voice and color.”