School of the Arts

New Music Symposium

Terry Riley (left) and Gloria Cheng (right) in black and white
Terry Riley and Gloria Cheng

In a special fifteenth year celebration, Chico State’s New Music Symposium is honored to host Terry Riley, one of America’s most brilliant and innovative virtuoso composer/pianists in a program of conversation and cutting-edge music. The event takes place over two days, starting on Thursday, Feb. 28th and ending on Friday, March 1st. Admission is FREE for all events.

Kicking things off on Thursday, Feb. 28th at 7:30 p.m., an all-star ensemble of Chico State students, faculty, and alumni join together with Terry Riley to perform his seminal work from 1964, In C. Largely considered one of the most important musical works of the twentieth-century, it's influence has been heard in the works of prominent composers such as Steve Reich, Philip Glass and John Adams and in the music of rock groups such as The Who, The Soft Machine, Tangerine Dream, Curved Air and many others. The concert will be held on campus in Rowland-Taylor Recital Hall

On Friday, March 1st at 3 p.m. (also in Rowland-Taylor Recital Hall), Grammy-award winning pianist Gloria Cheng will join Riley in a casual presentation discussing his piano music and other subjects. The duo will then perform an intimate evening concert at 7:30 p.m. in Zingg Recital Hall, featuring an all-Riley program of piano works including Cheng Tiger Growl Roar a new work written for the two to perform on the same piano.

“Terry and Gloria are the dream team of modern piano and composition” said David Dvorin, Department of Music and Theatre faculty member and artistic director of the event. “Friday’s concert will allow the audience a glimpse into Terry’s creative mind over the last fifty years, with Gloria interpreting Terry’s intricate and demanding early piano compositions, followed by Terry’s performance of his more open-ended works that draw upon jazz, classical, and Indian classical music as influences. An amazing retrospective.” 

Listed in the London Sunday Times as "one of the 1000 makers of the 20th Century,” Riley's hypnotic, multi-layered, polymetric, brightly orchestrated eastern flavored improvisations and compositions set the stage for the prevailing interest in a New Tonality.

For more information or to schedule interviews, contact artistic director David Dvorin at 530-898-4848 or For photos and more information on Terry Riley, go to his website:

The New Music Symposium, annually honors the late Alfred Loeffler, composer and music professor at Chico State. Sponsors include CSU, Chico’s Associated Students, Department of Music and Theatre and the School of the Arts.

For those who need special seating accommodations, please call 530-898-6333. More information is available online at the School of the Arts websiteand Facebook page.


Story by David Dvorin, Department of Music and Theatre faculty member

About Terry Riley

Terry Riley, portrait style photo

Terry Riley is an American composer and musician known for being the founder of music’s Minimalist movement. He attended Shasta College, San Francisco State University, the San Francisco Conservatory, and then finally earned his Master of Arts in composition at the University of California, Berkeley. When he attended Berkeley, he studied with Seymour Shifrin and Robert Erickson. He is known as being one of the most influential composers of the late 20th century. His work consists of the concept of interlocking repetitive patterns. His work draws from jazz and Indian classical music. His pieces “A Rainbow in Curved Air,” “Persian Surgery Dervishes” and “Shri Camel” laid some of the foundation for works that have shaped popular music. Soft rock groups were incredibly influenced by Riley’s previous works, including the group the Soft Machine. 

Pete Townshend of The Who was another artist influenced by Riley. One of his songs –“Baba O’Riley” — includes Riley’s name in the title. The first part of the title comes from Meher Baba, who was Townshend's spiritual guru. The second part comes from Riley, a composer that Townshend admired. Many of the keyboard riffs and sound effects on the album Who's Next were a result of Riley's influence.

Although Riley has made many pieces and recordings, his most known work is his classical composition “In C” (1964). This was made of 53 separate modules of roughly one measure each. Each piece within that contained a different musical pattern in the key of C.

According to the London Sunday Times, “he is one of the 1,000 makers of the 20th century.” This is because his music has reached not just a Western audience, but an international audience as well. His compositions include easterner-styled keyboard improvisations.

About Gloria Cheng

Gloria Cheng sitting on a stool

Gloria Cheng is known worldwide as a composer, pianist, and Grammy Award winner. Cheng attended Stanford University and received her BA in economics. Following that, she earned graduate degrees in music from the University of California, Los Angeles and the University of Southern California. Cheng is known for her contributions to contemporary music. She has worked with a large number of leading composers including: Henry Brant, Earle Brown, Elliot Carter, John Harbison, and many more. Cheng is known for her charisma when she performs. What earned her a Grammy was her recording of “Piano Music of Esa-Pekka Selonen, Steven Stucky, and Witold Lutoslawski.” The music was released to international accolades, including “Gramophone Magazine’s Editor’s Choice” and “New York Times Best of 2018.” Cheng was nominated for a Grammy in the category of Best Instrumental Soloist Performance (without Orchestra).

“It’s not just that Ms. Cheng plays these daunting pieces with such commanding technique, color, and imagination. She brought together works that fascinatingly complement one another,” wrote The New York Times.

Cheng has performed in a large number of concerts in her lifetime. In 2003, Cheng appeared with Pierre Boulez (who personally invited her) as a soloist in Messiaen’s “Oiseaux exotiques” during the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra’s historic final concerts. She also presents an annual recital on the Piano Spheres series that was founded by Leonard Stein. Cheng has also been a keynote speaker to the Music Critics Association of North America national convention.

posters from the last 3 New Music Symposiums

History of the New Music Symposium

The New Music Symposium is a two to three-day annual event that combines concert performances with artist workshops. This event has been put on for over a decade and this will mark its 15th year. The event is a combination of concerts and workshops. This event showcases new and adventurous music written by the biggest composers of the 21st century. 

David Dvorin (Department of Music and Theatre faculty member) is the current organizer of the symposium, but the originator was David Colson (former Department of Music and Theatre faculty member). Colson created the event in 2004. This event was created to honor the late Alfred Loeffler, Chico State music professor, department chair, symphony conductor, and Chamber Music Workshop director. Dvorin took over the event in 2007, and has been the artistic director for the past eleven years.

The New Music Symposium is put on to provide Chico State students a chance to present the work they’ve produced and to interact with cutting-edge artists in the field of contemporary music composition. This symposium seeks to present unique music events that have not been featured anywhere else in the North State.

“I hope that people take away with them a burgeoning curiosity about contemporary music composition, and seek out more new and adventurous music written in our time for their own enjoyment,” Dvorin said.


Story by Tashia Jones, publicity assistant, School of the Arts

About the Director

David Dvorin, portrait style photo

David Dvorin is an Emmy-nominated composer, guitarist, author, and educator who has had his concert music performed in numerous new music and multimedia festivals around the United States and Europe. Versatile in both electronic and acoustic music mediums, he has written for and collaborated with such notable artists as Terry Riley, the California E.A.R. Unit and the Kronos Quartet. In addition to producing several CDs and DVDs of his compositional work, some of his current performance projects include his chamber-jazz duo, Pull-String with violinist Matej Seda, and the electro-acoustic duo, Zap! with multi-reeds player Randy McKean. His textbook, Logic Pro X: Advanced Music Production, now in its fourth edition, has been adopted by educational institutions worldwide, and is the basis for Apple Computer’s certified training. Dvorin has also served as a professional consultant to music technology companies such as Native Instruments and Apple Computer. Dvorin has been on the faculty at California State University, Chico since 2006, teaching composition, electronic music and recording arts. He is also the Artistic Director for the annual New Music Symposium, which showcases the work of young composers and brings acclaimed contemporary composers and performers to the North State area of California.