Anthony Cheung, composer

Anthony Cheung headshot

Anthony Cheung is a composer and pianist. His music has been commissioned by leading groups such as the Ensemble Modern, Ensemble Intercontemporain, New York Philharmonic, Frankfurt Radio Symphony Orchestra, Scharoun Ensemble Berlin, and also performed by Le Nouvel Ensemble Moderne, Linea, the Chicago Symphony’s MusicNOW ensemble, the Minnesota Orchestra, Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France, and the French National Orchestras of Lille and Lorraine, among others. From 2015-17, he was the Daniel R. Lewis Young Composer Fellow with the Cleveland Orchestra. The recipient of a 2016 Guggenheim Fellowship, he has also received awards from the American Academy of Arts and Letters and ASCAP, and first prize in the Sixth International Dutilleux Competition (2008), as well as a Rome Prize from the American Academy in Rome (2012). As a performer and advocate for new music, he co-founded the Talea Ensemble and served as Artistic Director and pianist, working with many composers and curating programs of their works. His music has been programmed at festivals such as Ultraschall, Cresc. Biennale, Wittener Tage, Présences, Heidelberger Frühling, Mostly Mozart, Tanglewood, Helsinki Festival and Musica Nova Helsinki, Centre Acanthes, Musica, and Nuova Consonanza. Two portrait albums of his music are available: Roundabouts, released by the Ensemble Modern in 2014, and Dystemporal, featuring performances by Talea and the Ensemble Intercontemporain, on Wergo. Anthony received a B.A. in Music and History from Harvard and a doctorate from Columbia University. He was a Junior Fellow at the Harvard Society of Fellows, and is currently an Assistant Professor of Music at Brown University.

Anthony Cheung's piece Double Allegories premiered with the Grossman Ensemble on December 6, 2019.

Performance notes:

The various allegories depicted here — senses, elements, seasons, affects, etc. — are common themes throughout the history of art. Some of my own favorite visual representations of the senses hovered in the background, such as the enigmatic “Lady and the Unicorn” tapestries from Flanders (c. 1500) and Jan Brueghel’s and Rubens’ The Five Senses, especially in their ability to convey cross-sensory experience and transference in spite of two-dimensional visual surfaces. Thinking about the stimulation of the tactile in sound, the first section of the piece (“…of touch/heat”) opens with a sensation of touch traded off between unrelated instruments, each action resulting in something malleable and elastic. In our own touchsensitive age of haptics, the screens and sensors we interact with are similarly reactive and adaptable, despite their hard or invisible surfaces. I wanted to play with this sensation of action/reaction, plasticity and tactility in the materials, bouncing off and between the instruments. I imagined heat and sparks being set off by these interactions, raising the temperature on the overall activity. “…of solitude/winter” turns more towards existing tropes, with western music history being replete with sonic signifiers and allegories of both themes. Passing historical references — some familiar and others transformed — dot a frigid and desolate landscape around a minor/ modal key center (D) that has overwhelmingly connoted such depictions. An inner storm turns outwards and turbulent, and the final section (“…of breath/air”) begins in its aftermath. The ensemble breathes each successive phrase of the final section as a single, hushed gesture, chosen in the moment by the conductor, while a sax/harp duo breathes as one continuous current underneath. Double Allegories is dedicated to Joseph Koerner and the musicians of the Grossman Ensemble.

Grossman Ensemble premieres Anthony Cheung's "Double Allegories"