The UCLA Department of Music offers a B.A., M.M., or D.M.A. degree in classical keyboard performance. Acceptance to this program is by audition only. Our current piano faculty are Professor Walter Ponce and Professor Inna Faliks; Christoph Bull is university organist and adjunct associate professor of organ. Gloria Cheng directs the Contempo Flux Ensemble and lectures on Performance Practice. For information about our degree programs please contact either Brenda Galvez (undergraduate) at , or Sandra McKerroll (graduate) at . For specific keyboard program questions, you may wish to contact the piano faculty directly by email.
The piano performance program at the Herb Alpert School of Music at UCLA is highly selective, with never more than 30 graduate and undergraduate piano majors chosen through yearly auditions. The piano program is known for its special attention to individual student development, an internationally renowned faculty of concert artists, and ample performance opportunities such as Popper Fridays, solo and concerto competitions, international guest artist master classes, collaboration with instrumentalists and composers, involvement in chamber music and contemporary music, studio classes, and interdisciplinary festivals.
Through an atmosphere that combines nurture, hard work and inspiration, UCLA piano students receive a one-of-a-kind experience.
The UCLA Herb Alpert School of Music and the Department of Music are pleased to announce the inaugural season of the David Abell UCLA Piano Masters Series. For more information, please CLICK HERE.
MUSIC DEPARTMENT PIANO FACULTY
"Adventurous and passionate" (The New Yorker) Ukrainian-born pianist INNA FALIKS (www.innafaliks.com) has established herself as one of the most passionately committed, communicative and poetic artists of her generation. Faliks recently relocated from NYC to Los Angeles, after being named the new Associate Professor of Piano at UCLA Herb Alpert School of Music.
After her acclaimed teenage debuts at the Gilmore Festival and with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, she has performed on many of the world's great stages, with numerous orchestras, in solo appearances, and with conductors such as Leonard Slatkin and Keith Lockhart. Critics call her "A concert pianist of the highest order" (Chicago WTTW), praise her "courage to take risks, expressive intensity and technical perfection" (General Anzeiger, Bonn), "remarkable insight" (Audiophile audition) "poetry and panoramic vision" (Washington Post), "riveting passion, playfulness" (Baltimore Sun) and "signature blend of lithe grace and raw power>" (Lucid Culture.)
Her October 2014 all-Beethoven CD release on MSR classics is drawing rave reviews: the disc's preview on on WTTW called Faliks "High priestess of the piano, pianist of the highest order, as dramatic and subtle as a great stage actor." Her previous, critically acclaimed CD on MSR Classics, Sound of Verse, was released in 2009, featuring music of Boris Pasternak, Rachmaninoff and Ravel. Her discography also includes a recital recording for the Yamaha Disklavier library. Recording projects in the works include a Chopin solo and cello sonatas recording with cellist Wendy Warner, and a disc of commissioned piano works for her poetry-music series, Music/Words, with music of Clarice Assad, Ljova Zhurbin, and other living composers.
Ms. Faliks's distinguished career has taken her to thousands of recitals and concerti in prestigious venues in the US as well as in France, Italy, Switzerland, Ukraine, Estonia, Japan, as well as Russia. She has been featured on WQXR, WNYC, WFMT and many international television broadcasts, and has performed in major venues such as Carnegie Hall's Weill Concert Hall, Metropolitan Museum of Art, Paris' Salle Cortot, Chicago's Orchestra Hall, Moscow's Tchaikovsky Hall and in many important festivals such as Verbier, Brevard, Taos, IKIF at Mannes, Bargemusic, and Chautauqua. She recently co-starred with Downton Abbey star Lesley Nicol in "Admission – One Shilling" , a play for pianist and actor about the life of Dame Myra Hess, the great British pianist. Her performance was described by Chicago Classical Music as "subtle and powerful, poised, beautiful, graceful and effortless." She has played concerti under the batons of many conductors including Leonard Slatkin, Keith Lockhart, Edward Polochick, Daniel Meyer, Victor Yampolsky, and many others. Her chamber music partnerships include work with Fred Sherry, Ilya Kaler, Colin Carr, Wendy Warner, Nathaniel Rosen, Nina Beilina and others. Ms. Faliks is a Yamaha Artist. Her 2012-13 season engagements included Newport Festival, Le Poisson Rouge, a tour of Canada, return engagements in Salle Cortot in Paris, with Minnesota Sinfonia, a Prokofiev Concerti marathon at the Peninsula Festival in Door County, where she played the 1st and 3rd Prokofiev concerti in the same half of the program. This season, her performances include her recital and chamber music debut in China and Israel and a recent, highly reviewed debut appearance and the famed Fazioli Concert Hall Series in Italy.
Committed to innovative programming, rarely heard and new music, as well as audience communication and education, Faliks has premiered 13 Ways of Looking at the Goldberg, variations by acclaimed contemporary composers, on Bach's Aria, at LACMA, Los Angeles; she gave the New York premiere of the work at Bargemusic and the Chicago premiere on WFMT radio. Ms. Faliks performed and recorded the unknown piano works of Russian poet Boris Pasternak, presenting his music at lecture recitals in conjunction with the University of Chicago. At the Spertus Institute for Jewish Studies, she presented "Three Jewish Composers – Three Centuries", giving the North American premiere of Ilya Levinson's Shtetle Suite and the world premiere of Lev Ljova Zhurbin's Sirota for piano and historical recording, written for her. She went on to create a one-woman show, including Jewish composers and her own essays, performing at Baruch Performance Center's "Solo in the City - Jewish Women,Jewish Stars" Festival in NYC. Her Music/Words Series continues in 2013, in NYC's Brooklyn Library, in LA's Clarke Library, and in the Royce Hall Rehearsal Space in collaboration with Center for the Art of Performance. Last season, she collaborated with Poetry Foundation in Chicago to perform with best-selling Russian poet Vera Pavlova.
She was the winner of many prestigious competitions, including the Hilton Head International Competition and the coveted International Pro Musicis Award 2005. Ms. Faliks is the founder and curator of the LMCC award winning interdisciplinary series Music/Words – www.musicwordsnyc.com . This poetry-music series goes into its 6th NYC season, and has been described as "surreal, impactful, and relevant...she played with her signature blend of lithe grace and raw power" (Lucid Culture). Her long standing relationship with WFMT radio has led to yearly broadcasts of Music/Words, which she produces, and has been seen in Chicago in collaboration with Poetry Foundation. It debuted at Royce Hall at UCLA, with the best selling Russian poet Vera Pavlova.
Internationally acclaimed pianist WALTER PONCE has performed around the world as soloist with symphony orchestras, in solo recitals and in collaboration with many renowned artists. Of his appearance with the legendary Sir Georg Solti, the Chicago Tribune headlined "Pianist Shines with Chicago Symphony Orchestra -- Walter Ponce is Magical in his Chicago Symphony Debut."
For many years he was under the management of the renowned Wilford Division of Columbia Artists Management (CAMI) in a roster that included pianists Martha Argerich, Alicia de Larrocha, and Maurizio Pollini.
Ponce has been heard in concert halls of almost every major city of North and South America, in many countries of Europe, and in Morocco, Japan, Korea, and China (Shenzhen, Yichang, Changsha, Xiamen, and Beijing.) His last performance under the auspices of CAMI took place as soloist with the San Antonio Symphony conducted by Alan Gilbert, now Music Director of the New York Philharmonic.
His European debut took place in London's Wigmore Hall followed by a remarkable New York City debut at the Metropolitan Museum of Art that prompted the New York Times to conclude "Each music season brings its quota of surprises, and Walter Ponce's recital might qualify as one of the current winter crop... It all added up to an impressive showing." Other New York City solo recitals include the Bosendorfer Artists Series, Town Hall, Hunter College, and Carnegie Hall's "Emerging Artist Series" about which Bernard Holland wrote in the New York Times "...a rendering of Schubert's mystical and mysterious B-flat Sonata ... served as an admonishment to the wicked and an example for the virtuous.” In his review of a solo recital at Alice Tully Hall, New York Magazine's renowned critic Peter G. Davis wrote “Ponce's playing could hardly have shown more discipline, muscular control, or imaginative use of the piano's expressive resources. Better still is his ability to define and articulate each score with such balanced precision and unforced eloquence, creating a beautifully proportioned musical context that allows the composer to speak naturally and spontaneously in his own voice.”
At the invitation of Daniel Barenboim, Ponce was featured in Chicago’s prestigious Orchestra Hall Piano series. Reviewing this recital, Dan Tucker wrote in the Chicago Tribune “This was delectable playing done with an electric crackle that Liszt himself would have applauded."
Walter Ponce has performed in collaboration with numerous distinguished musicians including Stephanie Chase, Sydney Harth, Jean-Jacques Kantarow, Mark Kaplan, Ani Kavafian, Jaime Laredo, Max Ravinovitsj, Zara Nelsova, Elmar Oliveira, Leslie Parnas, Alexander Schneider, Walter Trampler, the Cleveland, Audubon, American, and Lenox Quartets, and guest appearances with Lincoln Center’s Chamber Music Society. He has participated in festivals such as Ravinia, Bermuda, Seattle, Caramoor, Aspen, Sintra and Evora in Portugal, Tangiers in Morocco, and Cervantino and San Miguel de Allende in Mexico. At the Marlboro Festival, Ponce participated in the performance of Stravinsky's Les Noces with pianists Richard Goode and Ruth Laredo with Leon Kirchner conducting, Dallapiccola's Music for Three Pianos with the composer and Murray Perahia, and the first Marlboro performance of Messiaen's Quartet for the End of Time with Felix Galimir, Nathaniel Rosen and Richard Stoltzman.
TV stations across the United States and abroad have shown many of his solo and duo recitals; nationwide broadcasts by National Public Radio and worldwide through the Voice of America, and recitals for the BBC and Radio Basel, Switzerland. In 1995, at the invitation of then Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali, Ponce presented a solo recital as part of the United Nations 50th anniversary celebrations.
A busy advocate of new music, Ponce has given the premieres of more than two hundred works, including those by Hugo Weisgall, George Rochberg, Karel Husa, George Crumb, William Bolcom, and Morton Gould. Composers Paul Reale and Ezra Laderman have written piano concertos specifically for Ponce. The latter was premiered at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. Ponce made the original recording of George Crumb's Voice of the Whale under the guidance of the composer.
Ponce has served as a member of the jury in numerous international piano competitions, including the University of Maryland, Robert Casadesus in Cleveland, Washington D.C., Gina Bachauer in Salt Lake City, and countless others. Recordings for Columbia Masterworks, Library of Congress, CRI, Vox Cum Laude; with cellist Yehuda Hanani, the complete works for cello and piano by Beethoven and works by the Cuban composer Jorge Martín.
Born in Bolivia, Walter Ponce's musical beginnings took place in the National Conservatory of Buenos Aires, Argentina, studying in that city's vibrant musical environment that produced so many outstanding pianists. It is also at this time that he first played for Alberto Ginastera, an association that continued in New York City, when Ponce studied with him his celebrated Piano Sonata. At 17 he came to the United States, one of the youngest ever to receive a grant from the Department of State’s Fulbright program, which continued for an unprecedented four years. In New York he graduated from Mannes College with a Bachelor of Science degree and from the Juilliard School with Master and Doctor of Musical Arts degrees. His major teachers include Sasha Gorodnitzki, piano; Gustave Reese, musicology and doctoral dissertation mentor, Arthur Balsam and Felix Galimir, chamber music; Felix Salzer and Carl Schachter, theory and analysis; Luciano Berio and Roger Sessions, composition. He was one of three students chosen by Juilliard to play and study with Vladimir Horowitz (1967). At Marlboro he was coached by Rudolf Serkin in several chamber music works. He also had two private lessons with Claudio Arrau.
Professor Emeritus at the State University of New York. Presently Professor and Chair of Keyboard Studies at UCLA. In addition, he has taught at St. John's University in New York City, C. W. Post College, Bowdoin College, Colgate University, and the Aspen Music School and Festival. He has given innumerable master classes in colleges and universities throughout the North and South America, Europe, China, and Korea.
Following a performance at the Eastman School of Music’s Kilbourn Hall, the music critic of the “City” of Rochester, New York, wrote "After hearing Ponce I understand his reputation as a 'pianist's pianist.' This recital was outstanding -the many piano students in the audience couldn't have heard a better model.”
Lecturer-- Performance Practice, Contempo Flux Ensemble
Pianist GLORIA CHENG, winner of the 2009 GRAMMY® for Best Instrumental Soloist Performance (without Orchestra), is widely recognized as a colorful and communicative interpreter of contemporary music. She has garnered universal acclaim for her unassuming virtuosity and eloquence, and has premiered dozens of new compositions, including works composed for her by John Adams, Mark Applebaum, Pierre Boulez, Joan Huang, David Raksin, Terry Riley, Esa-Pekka Salonen, Stephen Andrew Taylor, Chinary Ung, and Andrew Waggoner.
Cheng’s passionate dedication to contemporary music has brought about close collaborations with many of the leading composers of our time: Thomas Adès, Henry Brant, Earle Brown, Elliott Carter, George Crumb, John Harbison, György Ligeti, Witold Lutoslawski, Steve Reich, and Steven Stucky
On the world premiere of Salonen’s Dichotomie, composed for and dedicated to Cheng, the Los Angeles Times described her performance as “miraculous in the sheer speed and sureness of her fingers, in the rich depth of color and sonority she obtained from the piano, and in the sheer expression of joy she brought to a demanding new work.” The New York Times has praised her “commanding technique, color and imagination..”
Cheng has twice been featured with the Los Angeles Philharmonic New Music Group at Alice Tully Hall, and made her solo debut with the L.A. Philharmonic in December, 1998, performing Messiaen’s Oiseaux exotiques and Couleurs de la cité céleste under the direction of Zubin Mehta. In May 2003, Cheng was personally invited by Pierre Boulez to appear with him in the L. A. Philharmonic's historic final concerts in the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, again performing Messiaen's Oiseaux exotiques. Recent engagements include appearances with the Pacific Symphony, New York Philharmonic, Long Beach Symphony, Indianapolis Symphony, San Francisco Symphony, Shanghai Symphony, Pasadena Symphony, Opus Novum (Hawaii), Composers Inc., and San Francisco Contemporary Music Players. Additional projects have brought Cheng to festivals at Ojai, Tanglewood, Aspen, Bad Gleichenberg, and Kuhmo (Finland), to the Chicago Humanities, Other Minds (San Francisco), and Composer-to-Composer (Telluride) Festivals, and to venues such as Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, Radio France, Kennedy Center, and the Théatre du Châtelet.
As the 1992 winner of the League of Composers/ISCM performer competition, Cheng was sponsored in an acclaimed solo debut recital at Carnegie Hall’s Weill Recital Hall. In Los Angeles she appears annually on the Piano Spheres concert series founded by Leonard Stein and collaborates with a number of chamber ensembles, most notably with the Calder Quartet and on the Jacaranda Music series. She has been featured in film scores by composers such as Don Davis, Danny Elfman, James Horner, Maurice Jarre, David Newman, and John Williams.
Cheng's solo discography includes her first highly praised CD of music by Olivier Messiaen on Koch, and two critically acclaimed Telarc releases: Piano Music of John Adams and Terry Riley and Piano Dance: A 20th-Century Portrait. In July 2008 Cheng’s newest Telarc disc: Piano Music of Esa-Pekka Salonen, Steven Stucky, and Witold Lutoslawski, was released to international accolades that include Gramophone Magazine's Editor's Choice, New York Times Record of the Year, and the GRAMMY® for Best Instrumental Soloist Performance.
Cheng’s writings have appeared in Piano Today, Piano & Keyboard Magazine, and New Music Box, and in 2005 she was the keynote speaker at the national convention of the Music Critics Association of North America. Cheng has served as a panelist for the Minnesota Composers Forum, Coleman Chamber Music Competition, California Arts Council, the U.S. Festivals’ Fund, and as a board member of the American Music Center.
Prior to post-graduate studies in Paris and Barcelona, Cheng earned her B.A. in Economics from Stanford University, and graduate degrees in Music from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) and the University of Southern California. Her primary teachers were Isabelle Sant'Ambrogio, Aube Tzerko, and John Perry. She is on the faculty at UCLA.
Visit Gloria's website at: www.gloriachengpiano.com
CHRISTOPH BULL likes organ music, rock music and rocking organ music.Equally versed in classical and popular music, he is considered one of the most versatile and unique organists of our times. In his concerts, he presents the multicolored sounds, styles and collaborative aspects of the organ in a new light and excites wide audiences.
Born in Mannheim, Germany, he’s performed and recorded around the world, including France, Switzerland, Austria, Denmark, Northern Ireland, Russia, India, Taiwan and El Salvador, at national and regional conventions of the American Guild of Organists and at venues such as Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles, Lincoln Center in New York City, Segerstrom Concert Hall in Costa Mesa, the Cathedrals of Moscow, Saint-Denis and Salzburg as well as rock clubs like The Viper Room, The Roxy and The Whisky in Los Angeles. He’s collaborated with leading orchestras, conductors, choirs and ensembles including the Los Angeles Master Chorale, James Conlon, Carl St.Clair, Pacific Chorale, Pacific Symphony and Grammy-winning Southwest Chamber Music.
He improvised his first melodies on the piano at the age of five and gave his first organ recitals and rock concerts with a band at the age of twelve. He concertized with the National Youth Orchestra of Germany and was the subject of a longtime study about highly gifted musicians together with other artists such as pianist Lars Vogt.
Following his graduation at Karl-Friedrich-Gymnasium Mannheim and organ studies at University of Church Music in Heidelberg and Musikhochschule Freiburg, he earned degrees at Berklee College of Music (majoring in Songwriting, graduating summa cum laude), University of Southern California (majoring in Organ) and American Conservatory of Music (majoring in Organ and Sacred Music) on multiple scholarships.
His organ teachers were Cherry Rhodes, Hermann Schäffer, Ludwig Dörr, Samuel Swartz, Christoph Schöner and Paul Jordan. He also participated in master courses with Marie-Claire Alain, Guy Bovet, Craig Cramer and Rudi Lutz. He won prizes in numerous organ and composition competitions, including “Jugend musiziert”, Michael Masser Competition, Berklee College of Music Songwriting Competition and International Organ Competition Marcello Galanti.
Christoph Bull is the creator of the genre-crossing, collaborative multi-media series organica, combining traditional and contemporary music. His collaborators include DJs, video artists, live painter, instrumentalists and singers. He has also contributed to projects by Steven Spielberg, Robin Williams, Harry Connick Jr., George Clinton and Bootsy Collins (Parliament Funkadelic), Cindy Lauper, Lili Haydn and Nishat Khan and opened the organ series at Segerstrom Concert Hall in Costa Mesa and Villa Aurora in the Pacific Palisades.
He’s received several awards from the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers for creative and innovative concert programs and has released a number of CDs, including License To Chill, Old School, organica 2001, organica 2, and organica 3. His musical Treasure Island, a collaboration with lyricist Tim Mathews, was premiered in both the U.S. and Germany. His solo album First & Grand, the world premiere recording of the Walt Disney Concert Hall Organ, was celebrated by the international trade press and showcases the stylistic versatility and expressiveness of his playing. His original song “Peace” was featured on the benefit album 2 Unite All together with songs by Peter Gabriel, Stewart Copeland and others.
His music has been broadcast on TV and radio, including on NPR’s flagship station in Southern California, KCRW, on Classical KUSC and the Minnesota Public Radio program “Pipedreams”.
Christoph Bull is based in Los Angeles. In addition to his activities as a concert organist, composer, singer-songwriter, speaker, university organist and organ professor at University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), he is organist-in-residence at First Congregational Church of Los Angeles, playing the largest church pipe organ in the world.
Outside of music, Christoph is interested in politics, theology, cinema and sports. He’s read the whole Bible, Koran, Bhagavad Gita and Tao Te Ching, watched every Seinfeld episode and all Star Wars movies in a row in the chronological order of the storyline. He’s run the L.A. Marathon several times and won the National German Youth Championship in Baseball with his team BC Tornados Mannheim.
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