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Wild Leo

Composer: Heng LIU

Instrument: Marimba

Level: Advanced

Published: 2020

Price: €16.00

Item details

  • Description +
    • Duration: 9 min.


      Wild Leo is dedicated to my friend Le YU who is a great percussionist and also known as Leo YU. The word LEO is from his English name and also the idea of this piece - Leo from the constellation. In my mind, Leo is a image of a wild lion with shining ring of light, sometimes appears between shadow and fire. He is famous for his fierce power, but there is also gentle and soft in his heart. Yes, like Mufasa in the film of Lion King.

  • Instrumentation +
    • Marimba (5-octave)

  • About the composer +
    • Heng LIU is the principal percussion of the China National Centre for the Performing Arts Orchestra, executive director of China Percussion Association, artist of MEINL Percussion, MEINL Cymbals, Innovative Percussion, Marimba One, and Remo.

      Liu studied percussion from childhood with his father Yaguang LIU, professor of percussion at Xi 'an Conservatory of Music. In 2005, Liu was admitted to the Central Conservatory of Music. He studied with professor Gang LIU and professor Biao LI successively and obtained bachelor's and master's degrees. By the time he was 18, Liu had won the first prize in the National Youth Percussion Competition. Liu was a percussion jury of the Italian International Percussion Competition, where he also held master classes and special concerts. He also judges the annual International Network Percussion Competition and National Youth Percussion Competition.

      Between 2017 to 2019, Liu embarked on his improvisation and interactive percussion concert "Give me one hour" tour. The tour hit many major Chinese cities including Tianqiao Art Center in Beijing, Shanghai Oriental Art Center, Xi 'An concert hall, Shijiazhuang Center for the Performing Arts, etc. Liu performed entirely improvised sets based on interaction with the audience, bringing concertgoers a brand new musical experience.

      So far, Liu has published two albums: Percussion Visionary --Heng LIU Percussion Concert and DRUMS, an original album released by "Hei Chao" Duo with renowned drummer Yanchao LI. He also writes a personal column Heng LIU Said in music weekly.

As a percussionist, Liu has traveled to various music festivals around the world. These include: Italian International Percussion Competition and Festival, Greek International Percussion Competition and Festival, NCPA International Percussion Festival, Beijing International Electronic Music Festival, Beijing Modern Music Festival, Jazz Shanghai Music Festival, Strawberry Music Festival, MIDI Festival and so on.

      In the meanwhile, Liu has created more than 30 works, including percussion ensemble piece "The General", "Memory", "Face2Face", percussion and electronic music "Delay", "Percumotion", percussion solo "Rain the Blind Monk", "Wild LEO ", "Poem" and many more. In 2016, his Chinese Traditional Percussion solo piece "Gazing on Mountain TAI" won the 1st prize of China Traditional Music Festival - CCOM ethnic Percussion works collection competition.

      In 2019, Heng LIU won "Best Work Awards" and "Best All-round Percussionist" of 2019 Drummmer's Ceremony.

  • Reviews +
    • Review (Percussive Notes, October 2021)
      “Wild Leo” is an eight-minute display of four-mallet technical virtuosity with a pleasing amount of textural variety and an appreciable commitment to thoughtful pacing and compositional development. Composer Heng Liu, himself a percussionist, clearly knows the instrument well enough to make the most out of its timbral capabilities without crossing into territory of gimmicks. I was struck by this piece’s similarities to the writing of Paganini, who, of course, knew a thing or two about performer composers.

      The piece begins breathlessly and doesn’t give the audience (or the performer!) a chance to exhale until about halfway through. It would be unfair to call the early virtuosic material “licks,” because that would imply a sense of brevity; the cascading travels up and down the marimba are unceasing and require a high level of endurance from the performer, in addition to mastery of double- and triple-lateral techniques. However, the cascade does finally come to an end (or at least a pause) in the middle of the piece, when the torrent of activity breaks into a chorale-like slow section. This section requires a calm, controlled, one-handed roll technique, as well as an acute ear for polyphonic balance and a sensitive touch to the instrument’s lower range.

      There’s nothing compositionally new or interesting in putting a slow section in between the fast outer sections, but here is where this composer deviates from the well-worn road traveled by countless composers before him: instead of simply returning to the beginning material, he makes the rare decision to develop the slow middle material further than expected, and then to deliberately, gradually build upon it until the slow material itself has organically been transformed into a rhapsodic development of the faster opening material. There are a couple of “gotcha” moments where the audience is fooled into thinking that the action is about to peak, before the music teasingly pulls away. The true final return to the faster material is unexpectedly brief, leaving the audience wanting to hear more.
      I highly recommend this piece to graduate students, or perhaps ambitious senior undergraduate students, looking for a rewarding and showy technical challenge as a way to cap off a solo recital. “Wild Leo” will require a substantial performance effort, and many months to learn and polish, but the result will be worth it.

      —Brian Graiser
  • Credits +
    • Front Cover graphics and layout: Ronni Kot Wenzell
      Photo: NCPA Orchestra
      Engraving: Heng LIU
      Printed in Copenhagen, Denmark
      Copyright © Edition SVITZER