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New piano works by John Williams, Bruce Broughton, Don Davis, Michael Giacchino, Randy Newman, Alexandre Desplat. Pianist: Gloria Cheng
New piano works by John Williams, Bruce Broughton, Don Davis, Michael Giacchino, Randy Newman, Alexandre Desplat. Pianist: Gloria Cheng
New piano works by John Williams, Bruce Broughton, Don Davis, Michael Giacchino, Randy Newman, Alexandre Desplat. Pianist: Gloria Cheng
98 backers pledged $21,291 to help bring this project to life.

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GREAT FILM COMPOSERS & THE PIANO: CD+VIDEO by GLORIA CHENG

$21,291

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****UPDATE: The label has just agreed to make an additional batch of CDs available to me to offer as a Reward perk to all pledges $50 and above!****

What to do with surprise gifts of two piano suites composed especially for you by two of today's greatest film composers: JOHN WILLIAMS (The Book Thief, Star Wars) and BRUCE BROUGHTON (Silverado)… Add some more and make a party, with new pieces by DON DAVIS (The Matrix), MICHAEL GIACCHINO (Ratatouille), RANDY NEWMAN (Toy Story), and ALEXANDRE DESPLAT (Philomena). The premiere recital took place last November to a full house on Los Angeles' Piano Spheres series. 

My project is a CD and short documentary film featuring these compositions and the process of recording them with their legendary composers.

Bruce Broughton after the premiere of his Five Pieces for Piano
Bruce Broughton after the premiere of his Five Pieces for Piano
Don Davis after the premiere of his Surface Tensions
Don Davis after the premiere of his Surface Tensions

The music is precious, coming straight from the composers' innermost souls...with no movie director looking over their shoulders! And solo piano music shows just about everything about a composer…literally no bells or whistles. I am so moved and privileged to have this music from their "private" selves, and I am eager to share it with the world. 

I'm recording very soon - over Easter weekend - and the beautiful Harmonia Mundi usa label will release the CD in 2015. An extra treat for me will be having the composers with me during my recording sessions.

Michael Giacchino after the premiere of his Composition 430
Michael Giacchino after the premiere of his Composition 430
Randy Newman after the premiere of his Family Album
Randy Newman after the premiere of his Family Album
John Williams after the premiere of his Conversations
John Williams after the premiere of his Conversations

With such an epic gathering of Oscar, Emmy, and Grammy winners, how could I not document the process of recording with these beloved composers, how could I neglect to share my experience with others? The film will include concert footage and excerpts from the recording sessions, and will be shared on YouTube. It will be a rare opportunity to witness the painstaking process by which the composers, producer, engineer, and I strive together to achieve the best takes of their music for the CD. I am convinced that the film will be a significant and historic document that will generate incredible excitement. 

Nowadays even established labels like Harmonia Mundi often ask their recording artists to provide a finished master, after which the company handles the manufacture, marketing, and distribution of the CD. That is my contractual arrangement for this disc, as it was with my most recent disc with them, The Edge of Light...which actually got us a 2013 Grammy nomination! 

The composers have already been generous with me. But even with their help, the CD and film are entirely my idea, and it is upon me to raise the remaining $16,000 to complete the project. My production team is stellar: multiple Grammy-winning classical producer Judith Sherman, engineer Benjamin Maas, filmmaker Joey Forsyte, film editor Johnny Woods. Some have offered to reduce their fees for me, but I'm intent on paying them properly so that they can do their best work.

The costs are daunting: hall rental, hall staffing, piano tunings, engineer, producer, producer airfare/hotel, audio editing, equipment rental, camera operators, video sound person, video assistants, film editing, and the 10% fees required by Kickstarter/Amazon. To be perfectly clear, there is no fee for myself in this project - it is my labor of love to honor the composers who have written for me.

To tell you a bit about myself, I'm a pianist who has had the good fortune to live and work in Los Angeles, where the greatest composers of our era regularly visit for performances of their works. I've worked numerous times with composers from Pierre Boulez to Steven Stucky, from John Adams to Esa-Pekka Salonen. The privilege of bringing music to life in collaboration with such inspired creators has been the great joy of my career.

Gyorgy Ligeti and me, 1993
Gyorgy Ligeti and me, 1993

From time to time, I've also had the honor and thrill of working with our best film composers on their movie soundtracks. Again, it's the process of having the composer present in the room, and together bringing the music into being, that I enjoy so much.

Alexandre Desplat and me at Sony
Alexandre Desplat and me at Sony

This project brings together many threads from my musical life, and is by far the most ambitious thing I've ever attempted to do. The composers whose music I am privileged to showcase are living legends. My project aims to highlight their brilliant composerly personalities - when unhinged from the demands of a film - and to show that the reason they are our greatest film composers is that they are great composers.

If you find the endeavor to be worthy, I hope you'll support it. You will have my enduring and heartfelt gratitude for any contribution, no matter how modest. All donors at the $10 level and above will be entered into a blind drawing for the chance to ATTEND THE RECORDING SESSION(S) with a guest on April 20-21. Two names will be chosen on Friday, April 18th, at 9AM PST.

Thank you for considering.

Photos: Carolyn Yarnell, Carlos Rodriguez, David Weiss

Risks and challenges

My recording dates are set, the composers are informed, and all systems are set to go.

I expect no setbacks, as Harmonia mundi is an established, successful, internationally renowned label, and my earlier recording with them went smoothly and on schedule. I have worked many times with the audio team of Judith Sherman and Ben Maas, and they, as well as my film team Joey Forsyte and Johnny Woods, are quick, experienced, meticulous and top-tier.

That they all will deliver the best product is beyond doubt. Meanwhile, I am practicing like crazy and will be thoroughly prepared!

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  1. Select this reward

    Pledge $10 or more About $10

    Your name will be entered in a blind drawing for the chance to ATTEND THE RECORDING SESSIONS on April 20 and 21st, with the featured composers present! 2 names will be chosen at random. Best for L.A. residents - transportation/meals not provided, and must agree to stay quiet and invisible. A schedule will be provided in advance if you don't wish to stay for the entire two full days of recording. Thanks from the bottom of my heart for your generosity. You will receive periodic updates as the project progresses!

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    Pledge $50 or more About $50

    All of the above PLUS: Digital download of still photos from the recording sessions, the pre-release liner notes, CD cover art with great photos of the six featured composers

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    Pledge $100 or more About $100

    All of the above PLUS:
    Digital download of our finished DOCUMENTARY FILM before we upload it to YouTube

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    Pledge $250 or more About $250

    All of the above PLUS:
    Digital copy of a page from one of the piano pieces, signed by the composer. Digital download of a live video from the premiere performance.

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    Pledge $500 or more About $500

    All of the above PLUS:
    Signed pre-release copy of the CD, and glossy 11x17 print/poster of the CD cover art with composer portraits. Come as my guest to the CD Release Concert/Party (2015 tba)

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    Pledge $1,000 or more About $1,000

    All of the above PLUS:
    Original page from one of the piano pieces, signed by its composer.
    Special thanks in the CD liner booklet.

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    Pledge $2,000 or more About $2,000

    All of the above PLUS:
    ATTEND THE RECORDING SESSION (you will receive a schedule of the sessions in advance. All composers except the Paris-based Desplat will be present!) on April 20-21st (L.A.). Best for L.A. residents - and must agree to stay quiet and invisible.

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    Pledge $3,000 or more About $3,000

    All of the above PLUS:
    Home-cooked dinner for you and a guest, with one of the featured composers (and spouse), at my place.
    Producer credit in CD booklet

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    Pledge $3,500 or more About $3,500

    All of the above PLUS:
    Private recital of any or all of these pieces for you, in my home or yours (L.A. or mutually convenient location)

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Funding period

- (30 days)