Calista Liaw began her music studies at the age of four, with the piano and Erhu () later under the tutelage of renowned first class Erhu musician — Mr Zhang Yu Ming, and later, Singapore Chinese Orchestra’s concertmaster — Mr Li Bao Shun. Upon receiving her Diploma in Chinese Music Performance in 2015, Calista was appointed as the concertmaster and principal strings musician of Nanyang Girls High School Chinese Orchestra. Calista also performed the double Erhu concerto by local composer Phang Kok Jun – “Storytellers on Ann Siang Road” and formed a Chinese music quintet in her graduating year.
Upon graduation from high school, Calista has performed with many esteemed local ensembles and orchestras, including Ding Yi Music Company, People’s Association Chinese Orchestra, Toa Payoh West Community Chinese Orchestra, Novo Winds Band and university orchestras. In 2019, Calista founded a traditional Chinese music quintet - which was later awarded 2nd Place at the Singapore Chinese Music Competition organised by the Singapore Chinese Orchestra in 2020.
However, Calista aims to reaffirm her identity as an artist; seeking to reimagine the Erhu in modern contexts, with the exploration of contemporary music and the reinvention of multi-disciplinary collaborations. Her debut solo recital supported by the Festive Arts Theatre at Our Tampines Hub was released in October 2020, featuring a variety of genres and professional, esteemed musicians, as she challenges the boundaries and stereotypes surrounding traditional instruments and Chinese musicians.
Apart from classical and traditional repertoire, Calista’s versatility in Erhu is evident in her releases of music videos on various platforms such as Instagram, Facebook and Youtube. She has worked with various artistes including Jonathan Rao from SCO, Ayden Sng from Mediacorp and other local artistes. Calista and Jonathan were then scouted by 14th Street Music, for the film music recording of Michael Bay’s pandemic movie - Songbird which they received widespread media recognition for.
Calista’s first commissioned composition, is an Erhu contemporary piece which she composed and recorded, in collaboration with Chinese ink artist Yeo Shih-Yun’s exhibition ‘Chance Encounters’ as part of Huayi and Singapore Art Week 2021 at the Esplanade. She also participated in the Young Composers’ Academy by YST in 2020, which her work “Fleeting Thoughts” was premiered by flautist Ms Caroline Raiser.
Calista is currently pursuing her Bachelor in Music (Hons) at the Yong Siew Toh Conservatory of Music, in Music & Society and Erhu.