Nathan Cheung is a postdoctoral resident scholar and visiting assistant professor of music in chamber and collaborative music at the Indiana University Jacobs School of Music.
Hailing from the San Francisco Bay Area, Cheung is known for his versatility as a soloist, collaborator, composer, and improviser. These roles are fueled by his lifelong passion to discover artistry and accessibility—to understand the power of great music and tap into its potential to resonate with people from all walks of life.
His education has aided him significantly in strengthening these endeavors, culminating in degrees from the Eastman School of Music (D.M.A. Piano Performance and Literature, M.M. Piano Performance and Literature, M.M. Accompanying and Chamber Music) and Stanford University (B.A. Music, concentrations in piano performance and composition). During his studies, his core pianism and values were immensely shaped by his principal instructors: Natalya Antonova, Nelita True, Jean Barr, and Thomas Schultz.
Cheung won first prize in the 2019 Los Angeles International Piano Competition and top prizes in the Wideman International Piano Competition, Seattle International Piano Competition, and Lewisville Lake Symphony International Competition. He is also a winner of the Aspen Concerto Competition, American Prize concerto division, Music Teachers’ Association of California Solo Competition, and concerto competitions at both the Eastman School of Music and Stanford University.
In his solo recitals, Cheung enjoys producing themed programs or showcasing underrepresented works. Prior concerts have featured the theme of water and fire, compared Schubert’s attacca Wanderer Fantasy with Szymanowski’s attacca Third Piano Sonata, and showcased underperformed works by George Walker and Joseph Achron.
Cheung’s love of making music with others spurs his robust activity as a collaborative pianist. His achievements include collaborative piano fellowships at the Music Academy of the West, Songfest, and Aspen Music Festival. Frequently appearing in concert with highly trained instrumentalists and vocalists, Cheung has been distinguished by Eastman’s Excellence in Accompanying Award.
He is adept at navigating across varying situational needs, such as opera run-throughs, new music ensembles, and collaborating with non-Western instruments. This wealth of experience has allowed him to transgress boundaries of genre, instrumentation, and culture.
As a composer, Cheung has had his miniatures featured in the United States Open Music Competition and his string quartet premiered by the St. Lawrence String Quartet. His own compositional style seeks not to break norms, but rather to further explore the harmonic language embodied by the Impressionists, late Romantics, and jazz. His output also includes works for non-Western instruments, such as the Chinese liuqin and Korean Samulnori percussion.
In this vein, Cheung’s improvisations also draw from an eclectic array of styles. A rare recipient of Eastman’s Advanced Diploma in the Art of Improvisation, he maintains a deep interest in music outside of the classical canon and continues to actively explore meaningful ways in which different genres can inform each other. He gladly welcomes all requests for “Happy Birthday” in the key and style of the requestor’s choice as a means for style imitation study.
Cheung is a member of Happy Dog Duo with his longtime piano partner and friend Eric Tran. Together, they won first prize and the Abild American Prize at the 2017 Ellis Duo Piano Competition, hosted by the National Federation of Music Clubs. They won the inaugural Music Teacher’s National Association Stecher and Horowitz Two-Piano Competition and the Ohio International Piano Duet and Duo Competition in 2018.
Known for its innovative programming, fully memorized performances, and unabashed humor, Happy Dog Duo aims to bring joy and a fresh perspective to the four-hands repertoire.