Gloria Cheng

Grammy-winning pianist Gloria Cheng has been presented in recital by the Ojai Festival, Chicago Humanities Festival, William Kapell Festival, and Tanglewood Festival of Contemporary Music. She has appeared on leading concert series including Carnegie Hall’s Making Music, Cal Performances, San Francisco Performances, and Stanford Lively Arts.

Cheng’s recitals and recordings depict wide-ranging tastes across the contemporary landscape and often explore significant interconnections between composers. Her 2008 Piano Music of Esa-Pekka Salonen, Steven Stucky, and Witold Lutosławski (Telarc) captured the Grammy for Best Instrumental Soloist Performance without Orchestra, and her 2013 release, The Edge of Light: Messiaen/Saariaho (harmonia mundi usa), was nominated for Best Classical Instrumental Solo. In 2015 she launched MONTAGE: Great Film Composers and the Piano, a CD featuring solo works composed for her by Bruce Broughton, Don Davis, Alexandre Desplat, Michael Giacchino, Randy Newman, and John Williams. A documentary film chronicling the collaborations and recording process will soon be made available.

According to The Boston Globe, “Cheng is an authority on modern piano music, having premiered works that run the aesthetic gamut from Terry Riley to Pierre Boulez.” It was Pierre Boulez who in 2003 invited her as soloist in Messiaen’s Oiseaux exotiques during the Los Angeles Philharmonic’s historic final concerts in the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion. Cheng made her concerto debut in 1998 with the Los Angeles Philharmonic under the direction of Zubin Mehta. Other concerto engagements have included appearances with the Louisville Orchestra, Indianapolis, Shanghai, Pasadena, Long Beach, and Pacific symphonies.

The 2015-16 season brings Cheng and pianist/composer Thomas Adès onstage together to premiere Adès new 2-piano Concert Paraphrase on Powder Her Face. Their program includes Adès own Nancarrow Studies, Messiaen’s Visions de l’Amen, and Ligeti’s Sonatina. In November Cheng curated an international symposium entitled BEYOND MUSIC: Composition and Performance in the Age of Augemented Reality at UCLA, a gathering of composers and media artists including Kaija Saariaho, Jean-Baptiste Barriere, and Bill Viola.

In Los Angeles Cheng has been a frequent guest on the L.A. Philharmonic Green Umbrella series, performing works such as Elliott Carter’s Double Concerto for Piano and Harpsichord conducted by Oliver Knussen, John Cage’s Concerto for Prepared Piano, and the world premiere of Esa-Pekka Salonen’s Dichotomie, composed for and dedicated to her. She presents an annual recital on the Piano Spheres series, on both piano and harpsichord, and collaborates often with the Calder Quartet and on the Jacaranda Music series.

Cheng’s countless premieres, commissions, and dedications come from a varied and distinguished roster of composers who include John Adams, Mark Applebaum, Pierre Boulez, Cindy Cox, Ge Gan-ru, Daniel Strong Godfrey, John Harbison, Joan Huang, William Kraft, Veronika Krausas, James Newton Jr., Bernard Rands, Steve Reich, Terry Riley, Esa-Pekka Salonen, Carl Stone, Steven Stucky, Stephen Andrew Taylor, Andrew Waggoner, and Gernot Wolfgang. She has also collaborated closely with many other iconic composers, including Thomas Adès, Henry Brant, Earle Brown, Elliott Carter, George Crumb, Gyöergy Ligeti, and Witold Lutosławski.

Cheng received her B.A. in Economics from Stanford University, followed by graduate degrees in Music from UCLA, where she studied with Aube Tzerko, and from the University of Southern California, as a student of John Perry. She teaches at the UCLA Herb Alpert School of Music where she has initiated new courses that unite performers and composers. She is often invited to speak as an advocate for contemporary music, and in 2012 served as Regents Lecturer at the University of California, Berkeley.

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