Michael Cheng (b. 1997) is a prolific and versatile composer and pianist born in Hong Kong and currently based in Boston, Massachusetts. His teachers have included Chaya Czernowin, Richard Beaudoin, Robert Kyr, Andrew Clark, Federico Cortese, Christopher Hasty, Ann Witherspoon, and John and Nancy Weems.
His compositions have been performed across the United States and internationally. Performances have been given by such illustrious ensembles as the Harvard-Radcliffe Collegium Musicum, the Harvard Commencement Choir, the Antioch Chamber Ensemble, the Parker Quartet, the San Francisco Contemporary Music Players, the Axiom Quartet, Voices of Change, as well as the pianist Aristo Sham.
Michael began studying piano at the age of four and composing on his own from the age of five. His self-taught composition activities won him second place in the United States at the Music Teachers National Association (MTNA) Composition Competition in 2011. He began studying with Dr. Ann Witherspoon and subsequently won first place in 2012 for his Imagination, then second place again in 2014. He has also been a winner of the National Association for Music Education (NAfME) Student Composers Competition, two-time winner of the Foundation of Modern Music Robert Avalon International Composition for Composers, and a winner of competitions by the Dallas Symphony Orchestra/Voices of Change, the San Francisco Contemporary Music Players, the Manchester New Music Festival, the National Federation of Music Clubs, and Tribeca New Music (honorable mention). He was awarded the Hugh F. MacColl Prize in 2016 for his Eka and placed third in The American Prize for Choral Composition in 2019, a national competition open to composers of all ages, for his Fantasia ricercata. His music has also been featured on the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS). Furthermore, Michael earned his Licentiate of Trinity College London (LTCL) in Music Composition with Distinction in 2013, at the age of 16, as well as the Licentiate of the Royal Schools of Music (LRSM) in Piano Performance with Distinction the same year. He has been awarded for his performances of Bach, Brahms, and Rachmaninoff in particular, and he has also taught piano in his private studio and a self-curated music history curriculum to high school students.
In 2019, at age 21, Michael graduated from Harvard University with a Master of Science in Engineering Sciences, a Bachelor of Arts magna cum laude in Physics, and a minor in Economics. At Harvard, he was recognized as a John Harvard Scholar and served as Co-President of the Harvard Composers Association for three years. His composition Veritas: A Celebration of the Centuries was chosen to represent his graduating class at Harvard’s Commencement Exercises. He is currently continuing his studies at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.