George Li's 'Sensible Route' To Piano Prominence

02.21.18
George Li
NPR

George Li is a young pianist on the rise. At age 10, he gave his first public concert and at 15, he won a silver medal at the revered Tchaikovsky Competition in Moscow. Li recently released his debut album on a major label and has been fielding offers, performing with some of the world's great orchestras.

Li is 22 now, and he tells me how his day started out. With a kind of self-confident nonchalance, he sounds like a typical college student.

"I got up, I guess, at around nine o'clock and then I went to class," he says. "It's an English class on gender and representation."

Wait a minute. An English class when you've got a career as a concert pianist?

"I think the most sensible route would have been for me to go to a conservatory somewhere," Li admits. "But I really believed that I wanted a well-rounded education." And that's where taking English classes comes in.

"At one point it kind of dawned upon me how close music and literature are together," he says. "So it's helped me understand music even deeper." Li is enrolled in a hybrid program between Harvard University and the New England Conservatory.
 
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