Artist-in-Residence and Co-founder
CHETAN TIERRA, a Yamaha artist, is an American concert pianist, composer, and songwriter. He has been seen on concert stages across America, Europe, Asia, and Africa in solo recital and with orchestra. While he has earned top prizes, performing in the world’s most prestigious piano competitions, including the Van Cliburn, Queen Elizabeth, Jose Iturbi, Seoul, Unisa, Hilton Head, and New Orleans, he has been at the forefront of innovative classical piano evolution. His Carnegie Hall debut in 2006 was praised as ‘magnificent’ by the NY Concert Review, and his charismatic persona and emotional style have led to many praises from audiences and critics alike. Chetan is also an avid composer whose works are quickly garnering international attention, most notably his modern piano cycle called Moonshadows. Chetan Tierra comes from a long line of world-class pedigree, having studied with some of the most predominant pianists of today.
Melissa Evans Tierra
Academy Chair and Co-founder
MELISSA EVANS TIERRA is an American concert pianist, painter, and teacher known for her avant garde approach to music and art. She received her BM degree from Baylor University, studying with James Williams and her MM degree from The Cleveland Institute of Music, studying with Cliburn winning pianist, Antonio Pompa-Baldi. She also received a Postgraduate Diploma from the Koninklijk Vlaams Conservatorium in Antwerp, Belgium, studying with Levente Kende. Mrs. Tierra has performed recitals in Austria, Italy, Belgium, and Israel and has been highly praised for her interpretation of modern music, frequently premiering new works on her recitals. She has studied with many other notable teachers including Jerome Rose, Kum Sing Lee, Alon Goldstein and honed her craft of modern music with composers, Lowell Liebermann, Jo Verdis, and Chetan Tierra focusing on their works specifically. Melissa has also won several notable performance awards and been featured on radio and television. She was recently featured in The San Diego Union Tribune for her latest concert.
BRENDAN NGUYEN displays uncommon versatility as a performer, artist, and thinker. His bold programming style, infusion of technology, and extravagantly produced concert concepts aim to explore new musical territory while casting a contemporary eye on the established canon. Brendan has performed at the REDCAT Theater, the Monday Evening Concert series, wasteLAnd, The Stone, and has recorded with Carrier and Populist Records. He is currently working with long-time colleague mezzo-soprano Leslie Leytham on a new concert series called PROJECT [BLANK]. Brendan’s enthusiasm for contemporary music has lead to a number of premieres and commissions, including works by Wojtek Blecharz, Aaron Helgeson, Nicholas Deyoe, Clint McCallum, Beat Furrer, and Pulitzer Prize winner Roger Reynolds. He has also worked with composers George Crumb, Sir Harrison Birtwistle, Lewis Nielson, and has performed with violinist David Bowlin, pianist Aleck Karis, and percussionist Steven Schick. Brendan is a graduate of the Oberlin Conservatory of Music and UC San Diego.
Distinguished Artist Faculty
LESI MEI, classical pianist, manifests dazzling virtuosity and stunning musicality the moment her fingers touch the keys. She was the first call pianist for Beijing International Orchestra before traveling the U.S. from coast to coast, performing in such festivals as the Mostly Modern Festival in Saratoga Springs, International Keyboard Institute and Festival in New York City, and Olympiad Piano Festival in Colorado Springs, where she was a semifinalist in the concerto competition. Her performance diploma hails from the European Music Institute in Vienna, under the tutelage of the esteemed Professor Martin Hughes. Other notable teachers she studied with include Peter Vinograde, Joyce Yang, Ilya Yakushev, Blair McMillen, Victor Rosenbaum, Jeffrey Swan, and Geoffrey Burleson.
Lesi holds a Master of Music in Piano Performance from San Diego State University, a Master of Science in Exercise Physiology from Florida State University, and a Bachelor of Engineering in Biological Engineering from the Beijing Institute of Technology.
MEGAN GLEESON graduated from San Diego State University in 2019, receiving a BM degree in classical piano under the instruction of Scottish concert pianist Dr. Toni James as well as Symphony pianist Dr. Tina Chong. She studied both instrumental and vocal accompaniment as well as collaborative works at SDSU where she performed in various public recitals. She has also been an active pianist for contemporary worship bands at Reliance Church in Temecula and Existence Church in San Diego for over five years. Megan has performed as an entertainer for various events around San Diego, including restaurant entertainment and corporate events. She has also performed in the Goldegg Music Seminar in Austria as an accompanist. Megan has been teaching piano for over a decade, working with students of all ages and varying levels. She has been playing the piano for 20 years and knew she wanted to become a teacher by the age of 15. Megan is an innovate, creative individual who uses her fun personality and musical passion to help her students become articulate, versatile, and well-rounded musicians who love to play and perform.