Contemporary Music, Performance Studies
In recital and on recording, pianist Gloria Cheng is devoted to creating multidimensional collaborations that explore meaningful interconnections amongst composers. She has been a recitalist at the Ojai Festival, William Kapell Festival, and Tanglewood Festival of Contemporary Music, and has performed on leading concert series including Carnegie Hall’s Making Music, Cal Performances, San Francisco Performances, and Stanford Lively Arts.
Cheng has premiered countless works, including Esa-Pekka Salonen’s Dichotomie, composed for and dedicated to her, John Adams’ Hallelujah Junction for two pianos, and the late Steven Stucky’s Piano Sonata. Recent seasons have seen her in duo-recitals with Thomas Adès that included the premiere of his 2-piano Concert Paraphrase on Powder Her Face, with Terry Riley in Cheng Tiger Growl Roar for 4-hands, and in coast-to-coast screening/recitals of MONTAGE: Great Film Composers and the Piano, a themed recital, CD, and documentary (Breakwater Studios, Vimeo.com) featuring works written for her by Bruce Broughton, Don Davis, Alexandre Desplat, Michael Giacchino, Randy Newman, and John Williams. Cheng has curated programs that include Music at Black Mountain College for the Armand Hammer Museum; BEYOND MUSIC: Composition and Performance in the Age of Augmented Reality at UCLA, an international gathering of composers and media artists featuring Kaija Saariaho and Jean-Baptiste Barriere; and Inside the (G)Earbox, a daylong symposium at UCLA marking the 70th birthday of composer John Adams.
Cheng’s 2008 release, Piano Music of Esa-Pekka Salonen, Steven Stucky, and Witold Lutosławski, was awarded the Grammy for Best Instrumental Soloist Performance [without Orchestra]. A second Grammy nomination followed for her 2013 recording, The Edge of Light: Messiaen/Saariaho. In 2017 MONTAGE: Great Film Composers and the Piano aired on two PBS SoCal stations and won the 2018 Los Angeles Area Emmy Award. Cheng’s latest project is Garlands for Steven Stucky (Bridge), a CD featuring 32 miniatures composed in honor of the late composer. The CD proceeds will support the Steven Stucky Composer Fellowship Fund established by the Los Angeles Philharmonic to engage young composers in multi-year educational programs with the orchestra.
At Pierre Boulez’s 2003 personal invitation, Cheng joined him in performing Olivier Messiaen’s Oiseaux exotiques with the Los Angeles Philharmonic during its three historic final concerts in the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion. Cheng’s concerto debut with the L.A. Philharmonic was in 1998 under the direction of Zubin Mehta. Other concerto engagements have included appearances with the Louisville Orchestra, Indianapolis, Shanghai, Pasadena, Long Beach, and Pacific Symphonies.
In Los Angeles Cheng has been a principal artist with the long-running Piano Spheres series, Jacaranda Music, and a frequent guest with the L.A. Philharmonic Green Umbrella, performing works such as Elliott Carter’s Double Concerto for Piano and Harpsichord conducted by Oliver Knussen, and John Cage’s Concerto for Prepared Piano with Jeffrey Milarsky.
Cheng received her B.A. in Economics from Stanford University, and earned graduate degrees in performance under Aube Tzerko and John Perry. She teaches at the UCLA Herb Alpert School of Music where she has initiated classes and programs that unite performers, composers, and scholars.