Gloria Cheng

Adjunct Professor-- Performance Practice, FLUX chamber music class, Composer/Performer Axis


Office: 2539
Telephone:  (310) 825-4761


Grammy-winning pianist Gloria Cheng is widely acclaimed for her poetic and rigorous performances of contemporary music. In recitals that have been described as “characteristcally adventurous and filled with meaningful interrelations” (The New York Times), Cheng has been presented 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, St. Paul Chamber Orchestra Engine408, Stanford Lively Arts, and at (le) Poisson Rouge.

Cheng's solo 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 and documentary film featuring solo works composed for her by Bruce Broughton, Don Davis, Alexandre Desplat, Michael Giacchino, Randy Newman, and John Williams.

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.” Successive collaborations with Pierre Boulez during his frequent appearances with the Los Angeles Philharmonic led him to featured her as soloist with the orchestra in 2003, performing Messiaen's Oiseaux exotiques for the historic final concerts in the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion. Cheng made her concerto debut with the orchestra and Zubin Mehta in 1998, also in the music of Messiaen, at the invitation of then-director Ernest Fleischmann. Cheng has often appeared on the L.A. Philharmonic Green Umbrella series, performing such diverse works 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. In Los Angeles she performs on both piano and harpsichord, appears annually on the Piano Spheres series, and collaborates often with the Calder Quartet and on the Jacaranda Music series.

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. In November Cheng curates the BEYOND MUSIC festival at UCLA, an international symposium of composers and media artists including Kaija Saariaho, Jean-Baptiste Barrière, and Bill Viola.

Cheng’s countless premieres, commissions, and dedications come from a varied and distinguished roster of composers who include John Adams, Thomas Adès, Mark Applebaum, Pierre Boulez, 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. In addition she has collaborated closely with many other iconic composers, including Henry Brant, Earle Brown, Elliott Carter, George Crumb, György 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.