Current: A Piano Festival is presented by Old First Concerts and The Ross McKee Foundation
During the pandemic, a group of pianists has been meeting weekly by Zoom to perform for each other and offer motivation, encouragement, and ideas for improvement, discussing everything from Baroque trills to practise techniques, and sharing repertoire. This is the first in-person meeting of the California contingent of the group, who will perform music by Eleanor Alberga, Fred Onovwerosuoke, James Newton, Anthony Cheung & Wang Lu, Adolphus Hailstork, R. Nathaniel Dett, Terry Riley, and Grazyna Bacewicz.
Sarah Cahill, hailed as “a sterling pianist and an intrepid illuminator of the classical avant-garde” by The New York Times and “a brilliant and charismatic advocate for modern and contemporary composers” by Time Out New York, has commissioned and premiered over sixty compositions for solo piano. Composers who have dedicated works to Cahill include John Adams, Terry Riley, Frederic Rzewski, Pauline Oliveros, Julia Wolfe, Yoko Ono, Annea Lockwood, and Ingram Marshall. Keyboard Magazine writes, “Through her inspired interpretation of works across the 20th and 21st centuries, Cahill has been instrumental in bringing to life the music of many of our greatest living composers.” She was named a 2018 Champion of New Music, awarded by the American Composers Forum (ACF).
Described as “brilliant” by the San Francisco Classical Voice, San Francisco-based pianist and presenter Allegra Chapman is dedicated to connecting deeply with audiences. Allegra has performed as soloist and chamber musician at prestigious venues throughout the United States, Europe, and China, including Alice Tully Hall, the Dame Myra Hess Memorial Concert Series, the Bard Music Festival, the Liszt Ferenc Memorial Museum in Budapest, San Francisco Jazz Center, and Xi’an Concert Hall in Xi’an, China. Her performances have been broadcast on WQXR New York, WFMT Chicago, and KALW San Francisco. Allegra is founding artistic codirector and executive director of Bard Music West, a branch of the Bard Music Festival based in San Francisco that explores the worlds of composers from the past one hundred years. Allegra recently joined the award-winning Delphi Trio as their new pianist and is a member of Chordless, a voice and piano duo with soprano Sara LeMesh.
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. Ms. Cheng has appeared as a concerto soloist with the Los Angeles Philharmonic under Zubin Mehta and Pierre Boulez, and on its acclaimed Green Umbrella series with Esa-Pekka Salonen and Oliver Knussen. 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 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 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 — aired on PBS SoCal and captured the 2018 Los Angeles Area Emmy Award for Independent Programming. Her most recent disc, Garlands for Steven Stucky, is a star-studded tribute to the late composer by 32 of his friends and former students. After obtaining a Bachelor’s degree in Economics from Stanford University, Ms. Cheng studied in Paris on a Woolley Scholarship and earned graduate degrees in performance from UCLA and the University of Southern California, where her teachers included Aube Tzerko and John Perry. Ms. Cheng now is on the faculty at the UCLA Herb Alpert School of Music where she has created courses and programs designed to unite performers, composers, and scholars.
Monica Chew (https://monicachew.com) is an Oakland pianist and composer. In 2017 she released her first solo album, Tender and Strange, featuring works by Bartók, Janáček, Messiaen, Takemitsu, and Scriabin. A “gifted player with an affinity for deeply sensitive expression” (Whole Note), her playing is “wonderfully delicate, like tissue” (International Pianist). She has been a featured artist on radio stations worldwide. She started composing in 2017 and couldn’t be happier about it. Her work has been featured by Gabriela Lena Frank’s Creative Academy for Music, Hot Air Music Festival, and Left Coast Chamber Ensemble’s Intersection. Her first string quartet, Delayed Send, was premiered by Friction Quartet and reviewed as “monumental” and “stunning” by San Francisco Classical Voice. Prior to 2015, she neglected piano for nearly a decade to work as a principal software engineer on security and privacy at Mozilla and Google after receiving her Master of Music from SF Conservatory of Music and a PhD in computer science from UC Berkeley. She lives in Oakland with her husband, an 1899 Steinway B, a clavichord, and a disused violin. In spring and summer of 2020 she gave free twice-weekly live concerts on her Facebook and YouTube channels.
Jerry Kuderna received his initial training in piano and conducting in Denver with Antonia Brico. While studying the music of Webern and Schoenberg with Rudolf Kolisch he performed works by the 2nd Viennese school with soprano Bethany Beardslee. He studied piano with Adele Marcus at Juilliard and Robert Helps at the New England Conservatory. He has taught at the University of Louisville and at Princeton University where he met Roger Sessions and Milton Babbitt. His doctoral studies at NYU included a Ph. D dissertation on the piano works of Babbitt. He also taught music literature at Diablo Valley College.
As a solo recitalist and founding member of the Maybeck Trio, California-based pianist Jerry Kuderna embraces traditional repertoire and new music with boundless virtuosity and fierce commitment. He has been presented by Group for Contemporary Music, The American Society of University Composers, The New Jersey Composer’s Guild, The Los Angeles SCREAM Festival, Earplay and Cal Performances. Kuderna has premiered works by composers such as Milton Babbitt, Claudio Spies, John Selleck, Robert Helps, Ross Bauer, Daniel Brewbaker, Richard Swift, Edwin Dugger, Phillipe Manoury, Herb Bielwa, Ann Callaway and Kurt Erickson, many of whom have written especially for the pianist. Kuderna recorded Babbitt’s Phonemena for Soprano and Piano (with Lynne Webber) for the New World Records historic anthology of American Music series. In January 2006 he gave the West Coast premiere of Elliott Carter’s Piano Concerto with the Berkeley Symphony under the baton of George Thompson. He has premiered works by American composers including Milton Babbitt, Richard Swift, Alden Jenks, Robert Helps, Ann Callaway, Judith Shatin, and Herb Bielawa. He recently celebrated twenty years of regular lecture- recitals given under the auspices of The Berkeley Arts festival.
Regina Myers performs as a solo artist and with ensembles around the Bay Area. She received a Bachelor’s degree in Piano Performance from the San Francisco Conservatory of Music and a Master’s in Piano Performance and Literature from Mills College, where she focused on new and experimental music under the guidance of pianist Marc Shapiro, ensemble leader and composer Steed Cowart and percussion master William Winant. In 2004 she founded the concert series, and now ensemble, New Keys, whose mission is to surface and promote the newest and most innovative music for the piano. She has participated in the Hot Air, Switchboard, Garden of Memory Summer Solstice and SF Friends of Chamber Music SF Music Day music festivals and has had the honor of playing many concerts with the William Winant Percussion Group as well as the San Francisco Contemporary Music Players. She can be heard on Luciano Chessa’s album Petrolio, Danny Clay/Joseph Colombo LP (with New Keys) and on Eighty Trips Around the Sun: Music by and for Terry Riley on which she plays four-hand music by Terry Riley with her duo partner Sarah Cahill. Regina prides herself on expanding the reach of new music for piano by commissioning new works and organizing concerts for their premieres and recording. She relishes working with young and emerging composers as well as keeping seminal new music masterpieces alive.
The Ross McKee Foundation has supported the Bay Area piano community since 1992 through grants, education and a piano competition for young artists. Learn more about our work at rossmckeefoundation.org.