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Nick Volpert/recording.LA

Gloria Cheng & Terry Riley
The Heaven Ladder & other works for piano by Terry Riley

On December 5, 2018, Grammy Award winning pianist Gloria Cheng teamed up with the father of minimalism, Terry Riley, for a recital of Riley’s music.

Gloria Cheng has a decades long relationship with Terry Riley’s music. In 1995 she gave the west coast premiere of his masterpiece The Heaven Ladder, Book VII and made the world premiere recording shortly after. Recently, Cheng and pianist/composer Thomas Adès joined together to premiere Adès’ two piano Concert Paraphrase on Powder Her Face. When she is not performing, she teaches at the UCLA Herb Alpert School of Music where she initiated classes and programs that unite performers, composers and scholars.

Terry Riley hardly needs an introduction. In his six decade career he has influenced countless musicians in the classical, jazz, rock and electronic music scenes and shifted the paradigm of classical music forever with his 1964 composition, In C. His solo all-night concerts set the stage for the Raves that would follow decades later, and his early experiments with tape loops, tape delays, and the creation of the Time Lag Accumulator anticipated today’s looping and sampling movement. Riley’s list of collaborators include La Monte Young, Chet Baker, John Cale, Don Cherry, Krishna Bhatt, Gyan Riley, Stefano Scodanibbio, the Bang on a Can All Stars, artist Bruce Conner, and poet Michael McClure. Riley studied piano with Duane Hampton, Adolf Baller, and Wally Rose, and composition with Robert Erickson. He taught composition and Raga at Mills College in Oakland from 1971-1981.

The concert included some of Riley’s only fully notated works, played by Gloria Cheng, and also his semi-improvised works, preformed by the composer. At the end the night they came together and performed the newly composed work Cheng Tiger Growl Roar, written specifically for the pair.

Concert Program

Two Pieces for Piano (1958/59)
No. 1
No. 2
The Walrus in Memoriam (1991, rev. 1993)
The Heaven Ladder, Book 7 (1994)
I. Misha’s Bear Dance
II. Venus in ’94
III. Ragtempus Fugatis
IV. Fandango on the Heaven Ladder
V. Simone’s Lullaby
Gloria Cheng, Piano


Simply M… (2007)
Requiem for Wally (1997)
Terry Riley, Piano

Cheng Tiger Growl Roar (2018)
I. Growl
II. Cheng
III. Tiger
IV. Roar
Terry Riley and Gloria Cheng, Piano


Click here to download a PDF copy of the program from this concert.

Performance Video

Gloria Cheng
The Walrus in Memoriam (1991, rev. 1993), by Terry Riley

Gloria Cheng performs The Walrus in Memoriam (1991, rev. 1993), by Terry Riley. The piece was originally commissioned for a series of recordings of piano works based on tunes written by The Beatles, and is intended as a memorial for John Lennon.

Terry Riley
The Bull (2008), by Terry Riley

Terry Riley performs one of his own compositions, called The Bull (2008). The piece was not part of the scheduled program at this concert, but as the composer said, he played it anyway.

Terry Riley & Gloria Cheng
Cheng Tiger Growl Roar (2018), by Terry Riley

Terry Riley and Gloria Cheng perform Cheng Tiger Growl Roar (2018), composed by Riley. Part of a concert produced by Other Minds of piano music composed by Terry Riley at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, December 5, 2018.

Full Concert Audio

Concert Photos

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