Gloria Cheng

Photo by Lefteris Photography
Gloria Cheng
2020 Guest Artist - Piano

Grammy and Emmy Award-winning pianist GLORIA CHENG has long been devoted to a process of creative collaboration, having worked extensively with such internationally renowned composers as John Adams, Terry Riley, Thomas Adès, and the late Steven Stucky.

Since beginning her professional career in the 1980’s, Ms. Cheng has appeared as a featured soloist with the Los Angeles Philharmonic under Zubin Mehta and Pierre Boulez, and on its acclaimed Green Umbrella series under Esa-Pekka Salonen, Oliver Knussen, and Jeffrey Milarsky. She has been a recitalist at the Ojai Music Festival (where she first appeared in 1984 with Pierre Boulez), the Chicago Humanities Festival, William Kapell Festival, and the Tanglewood Festival of Contemporary Music. Ms. Cheng inspired and premiered such notable compositions as Esa-Pekka Salonen’s Dichotomie (of which she is the dedicatee), John Adams’ Hallelujah Junction for two pianos (written for her and Grant Gershon), and Steven Stucky’s Piano Sonata. Partnering with composers in duo-recitals, she premiered Thomas Adès’s two-piano Concert Paraphrase on Powder Her Face and Terry Riley’s Cheng Tiger Growl Roar.

Ms. Cheng made her concerto debut with the L.A. Philharmonic in 1998 under the direction of Zubin Mehta. In 2003 she was personally invited by Maestro Pierre Boulez to perform Olivier Messiaen’s Oiseaux exotiques with the Los Angeles Philharmonic during its three historic final concerts in the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion. She has also concertized as concerto soloist with the Louisville Orchestra, Indianapolis, Shanghai, Pasadena, Long Beach, and Pacific Symphonies.

In her home base of Los Angeles, California, Ms. Cheng has maintained a long tenure as a principal artist with Piano Spheres, Jacaranda Music, and as a guest with the L.A. Philharmonic’s Green Umbrella series, 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. Ms. Cheng’s commissions, premieres, and dedications embody an international roster of composers including: John Adams, Mark Applebaum, Gerald Barry, George Benjamin, Pierre Boulez, Gavin Bryars, Daniel Strong Godfrey, John Harbison, Joan Huang, William Kraft, Veronika Krausas, Magnus Lindberg, James Newton Jr., Bernard Rands, Terry Riley, Carl Stone, Steven Stucky, Stephen Andrew Taylor, Stephen James Taylor, Claude Vivier, Andrew Waggoner, and Gernot Wolfgang.

Ms. Cheng received a Grammy Award for her 2008 recording, Piano Music of Salonen, Stucky, and Lutosławski, and a second Grammy nomination for her 2013 disc, The Edge of Light: Messiaen/Saariaho. On screen, Ms. Cheng’s film, MONTAGE: Great Film Composers and the Piano — documenting the recording of works composed for her by Bruce Broughton, Don Davis, Alexandre Desplat, Michael Giacchino, Randy Newman, and John Williams — won numerous festival awards and aired on PBS SoCal, subsequently capturing the 2018 Los Angeles Area Emmy Award for Independent Programming.

As a program curator Ms. Cheng has produced 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 Barrière; and Inside the (G)Earbox, a daylong UCLA symposium marking the 70th birthday of composer John Adams.

Ms. Cheng’s latest recording is Garlands for Steven Stucky, a star-studded tribute to the late composer by 32 of his friends and former students. Proceeds 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.

A native of New Jersey, Ms. Cheng began studying the piano at age 4, with formative studies under the tutelage of Isabelle Sant’Ambrogio. Prior to embarking on her musical career, Ms. Cheng earned a Bachelor’s degree in Economics from Stanford University. Her decision to pursue the piano led to a Woolley Scholarship for study in Paris, and degrees in performance from UCLA and University of Southern California, where her teachers included Aube Tzerko and John Perry.

Currently Ms. Cheng is on the faculty of the UCLA Herb Alpert School of Music where she has created classes and programs designed to unite performers, composers, and scholars. 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.