Hailed by the New York Timesas “deeply expressive” for his groundbreaking recording of Bach’s “Goldberg Variations” on solo marimba, Pius Cheung has presented solo recitals at Carnegie Hall, the Kennedy Center, the National Centre for the Performing Arts in Beijing, Drum Fest (Poland), Percussion Plus Festival (Denmark), Osaka Percussion Festiva, and more.He has written numerous works for percussion, including “Allegro Brutale” for solo marimba, commissioned by Dame Evelyn Glennie, and two concertos, for the Ju Percussion Group and National Taiwan Symphony Orchestra. Cheung is an Associate Professor and Chair of the Percussion Area at the University of Oregon.
Rhythm! Scene: If you weren't a university percussion professor, what career could you see yourself having pursued?
Pius Cheung: Probably a pianist, full-time composer, or an accountant, like my parents had wanted.
R!S: What's one thing in your institution or city/town (other than your school of music or music department) that you are proud to tell people about?
PC: Eugene, Oregon: food, wine, outdoors! My dog and I go hiking all the time in the beautiful mountains and trails right here in town.
R!S: What’s one thing most people don’t know about you?
PC: I am a runner and do CrossFit.
R!S:What is your favorite percussion instrument and why?
PC: Most would expect me to say marimba, but it's actually the bass drum. I just love the low vibrations.
R!S: Where did you grow up and what’s one interesting thing about your childhood (musically or otherwise)?
PC: I was born in Hong Kong, and we moved to Vancouver, Canada when I was in eighth grade. When I started school in Canada, the band director auditioned and placed me in the senior concert band and jazz band. I was the only 12-year-old among a bunch of 17- and 18-year-old high school seniors. I didn’t know a thing about jazz, nor how to read chord symbols; I didn't even speak English very well. However, I was given guitar and piano parts to play on vibes every day, and I just figured it out by ear from there. That was one of my best learning experiences ever. Thank you Mr. Stigings and the Magee Secondary School!