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Student Orchestral Premiere

Student Orchestral Premiere

Sophomore Dean Liu joined the OCS community and the residence life program this year, bringing with him his incredible musical talents. Originally from China, Liu is a highly skilled violinist with over 10 years playing experience, and is the violin II section leader in the OCS high school orchestra and chamber strings. Fueled by a passion for musical exploration, he recently discovered a new love: composing. 

Liu's foray into composition began just four years ago when he crafted a special piece for his mother's birthday—an impactful 15-second composition. Despite lacking any formal composition training, he found joy in creating music and has since embraced his newfound talent, amassing over 37 compositions to date. 

While participating in orchestra I class, Liu approached his teacher, Mary Kay Altizer, to present his piece "Fight Theme" for feedback and suggestions for further development. Altizer, an experienced arranger and the performing arts chair, guided and finetuned his creative process. The piece centers around a captivating duet between dueling violins, truly embodying the title. 

"It is very unusual for a student at a high school level to be able to compose effectively and appropriately for orchestral instruments," Altizer shared. "When Dean first brought the composition to me I was very impressed! I reviewed it and identified a couple of areas for improvement and we worked together on that. He was so teachable!"

Atlizer was amazed with Liu's natural ability, so much so that the upcoming Spring String Thing marks a significant moment with the premiere of Liu's composition, "Fight Theme," specially crafted for the Oaks Christian orchestra. This is the first time in Oaks Christian history, that any student has had an original orchestral work performed.

"I was very impressed that he could do so well on such little training. The piece is very well put together, has very mature musical structure and form.He has an amazing understanding of how each instrument of the string orchestra is used," Altizer further shared. 

This annual celebration of all things string showcases student artists presenting a collection of classic and contemporary selections. As his big moment approaches, Liu isn't nervous but shared how he is “rather excited” to debut his work to the OCS community. Liu’s next piece, currently untitled, has already been completed. 

When asked about his future career and college goals, Liu describes how he has a “passion for music and composing,” but his future lies within mathematics. Those two interests are closely aligned as mathematics and music share fundamental aspects such as patterns, counts, beats, and numbering. 

As Spring String Thing approaches, Altizer describes the orchestra students' excitement and pride in Liu for his hard work and upcoming debut.

The event will take place on Tuesday, Feb. 6, at 6:30pm in the Bedrosian Pavilion, featuring music from around the world, with a specific focus on India and China. The OCS Residence Life program, along with middle and high school instrumentalists, will be highlighted. Admission is complimentary!