Bryan Cheng cellist
Top prize laureate of the VI International Paulo Cello Competition, 21-year-old Canadian Bryan Cheng is acclaimed internationally for his “absolutely astonishing” (La Presse, Montréal) command of the cello, “dreamy beauty” (Süddeutsche Zeitung), and his “abundant facility, innate musicality, and sense of joy” (New York Concert Review). He made his solo debut at age 10 with the Orchestre de chambre I Musici de Montréal, his Carnegie Hall recital debut at 14, and most recently, his Elbphilharmonie solo debut with the Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie Bremen and conductor Joshua Weilerstein in 2018.
Solo highlights of recent and upcoming seasons include appearances with Finland’s Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra, Lahti Symphony Orchestra, and Tapiola Sinfonietta (conducting from the cello); Germany’s Schleswig-Holsteinisches Sinfonieorchester and Südwestdeutsches Kammerorchester Pforzheim; New York’s Adelphi Orchestra; Missouri’s Springfield Symphony Orchestra, Canada’s National Arts Centre Orchestra, Niagara and Okanagan Symphony Orchestras, Symphony Nova Scotia, and Esprit Orchestra, collaborating with such esteemed conductors as Susanna Mälkki, Peter Oundjian, David Geringas, Alexander Prior, Eva Ollikainen, and Alain Trudel. In 2017, after being awarded the Canada Council for the Arts Michael Measures Prize, Bryan embarked on a 12-city coast-to-coast Canadian tour as soloist with Canada’s National Youth Orchestra and conductor Jonathan Darlington.
Also in-demand as a recitalist, Bryan tours the world extensively as cellist of Cheng² Duo. He has performed in every Canadian province, a dozen countries, and on three continents, in such venues as Montréal’s Maison Symphonique, Toronto's Koerner Hall, Edmonton’s Winspear Centre, Aspen’s Harris Hall, Brussels’ Flagey Hall, Berlin’s Philharmonie, Helsinki’s Musiikkitalo, and Shanghai’s Poly Grand Theatre, as well as at international festivals including Trasimeno, Dresdner Musikfestspiele, Aspen, Ottawa Chamberfest, Toronto Summer Music Festival, Festival of the Sound, and the Orchestre symphonique de Montréal’s (OSM) Virée classique.
Bryan is laureate of First Prize at the 2019 Hellam International Young Artists’ Comeptition, Second Prize and two special prizes at the TONALi18 Grand Prix in Hamburg, Grand Prize at Adelphi Orchestra International Competition in NYC, First Prize at National Arts Centre Bursary Competition, Second Prize at OSM Manulife Competition, and one of CBC’s “30 hot Canadian classical musicians under 30”, as well as a Sylva Gelber Music Foundation Award winner.
Over the years, Bryan has accumulated a concert repertoire spanning five centuries, and is equally committed to both traditional masterworks and the music of his time. He has commissioned and given eleven world premieres, including two pieces by Canadian composer Alexina Louie at his second Carnegie Hall recital; the North American premiere of a cello concerto by British-Russian composer Gabriel Prokofiev (grandson of Sergei) at Koerner Hall with the Esprit Orchestra; and most recently, a multimedia project featuring five new Canadian works by composers from all regions of the country at the National Gallery of Canada.
Bryan has released a trilogy of critically-acclaimed albums on German classical label audite: Russian Legends (2019), Violonchelo del fuego (2018), and Violoncelle français (2016), which was selected as one of WCRB Classical Radio Boston’s top 8 CDs of 2017. His recordings have been lauded by international press and publications in France, the Benelux countries, Germany, the UK, Canada, and USA for their “musical sensitivity”, “maturity and perfection”, “extremely imaginative and personal interpretation”, “taste, sure flair for phrasing, and beauty of sound”.
Recent and forthcoming recital highlights include the Dame Myra Hess Series (Chicago), Chamber Music at the Clark (Los Angeles), National Arts Club (NYC), Pro Musica Joplin (MO), Harvard University (MA), Salle Bourgie (Montréal), Virtuosi Series (Winnipeg), Cecilia Concerts (Halifax); the Indian River (PEI), Elora (ON), Bravo Niagara! (ON), and Toronto Summer Music Festivals; Germany’s Usedomer Musikfestival and TONALi Kiezfestival; and tours across Canada and China.
Bryan has donated hundreds of hours playing for fundraisers for various local, national, and international charities, including the Ottawa Hospital Foundation, the Ottawa Snowsuit Fund, the Leading Note Foundation, the Young String Performers’ Foundation, Friends of the National Art Centre Orchestra, National Youth Orchestra of Jamaica, the Canadian Red Cross, etc. and has raised thousands of dollars for children in Canada and abroad. He has also donated three of his previous cellos to OrKidstra, which is modelled after the El Sistema program in Venezuela and provides underprivileged children in Ottawa with free instruments and lessons.
Formerly studying with cellist and conductor Yuli Turovsky and Hans Jørgen Jensen of Northwestern University, Bryan is currently pursuing his Bachelor's degree at the Universität der Künste (University of the Arts) in Berlin in the studio of Jens Peter Maintz. Over the years, he has also been mentored by David Geringas, Frans Helmerson, Menahem Pressler, Laurence Lesser, Richard Aaron, David Finckel, and Jian Wang.
Bryan plays on the ca. 1696 Bonjour Stradivarius cello and the ca. 1830 Shaw Adam bow, generously on loan from the Canada Council for the Arts Musical Instrument Bank as First Laureate of their 2018 Competition.