Internationally accomplished pianist Dr. Chenny Q. Gan, Wesleyan Class of 2002, has returned to Wesleyan as full-time assistant professor of music in piano and collaborative piano, filling the position of her beloved former professor Edward Eikner who retired in May. Her love for Wesleyan and the College’s mission helped convince Chenny to return. “Empowering women and service to the community are two very important goals in my own life, so it’s a perfect fit,” Chenny said.
Since graduating summa cum laude from Wesleyan with double degrees in music and studio art, the young and talented Chenny has compiled an impressive resume which includes two master’s degrees in music from UNC-Greensboro and a doctorate of musical arts degree in piano performance from the University of Southern California. Additionally, she actively performs and teaches on three continents, with assignments that have taken her to settings as diverse as the inner city neighborhoods of Los Angeles to Carnegie Hall and the Mozarteum to guest lecturer positions at three universities in South China. As a scholar, she has presented and published research for the College Music Society, Society for Ethnomusicology, the Harvard East Asian Studies Conference, and others. She often performs with orchestras and renowned jazz musicians and has recorded four CDs.
Returning to Georgia and Wesleyan will be a homecoming for Chenny. She lived in Georgia for almost fifteen years and her family, which immigrated to the United States from China when she was eight years old, still lives in Warner Robins. “It will be a reunion with both my Wesleyan and nuclear families.” Chenny has built a substantial career during the last three years in her husband’s native Germany and was thrilled to hear of the opening in the Music Department at Wesleyan. “I always said teaching at Wesleyan would be my dream job,” remarked Chenny. “It was not an easy decision to leave Germany since my husband (Ernst) will remain there for now. I’m very grateful for his encouragement. Together, we are determined to make it work.”
Chenny hopes to entice new students to Wesleyan by introducing creative recruiting techniques, offering new interdisciplinary courses, and promoting the music degree by emphasizing its relevance and marketability for today’s culture and economy. “In a sense, I hope to up the ‘cool factor’ of studying music and show young women how to be versatile in the field,” she explained.
Chenny sees a new graduate emerging from Wesleyan – one who must be very eclectic and proficient in different styles, and acutely aware of the role technology plays in music. Chenny notes that technology such as iTunes, YouTube, and Twitter has drastically changed the way we listen to music, thus making all genres – folk, pop, jazz, hiphop, and classical – more egalitarian.
“I think this eclectic and egalitarian approach is the key to classical music surviving and thriving for the coming generations,” said Chenny. “Rather than lamenting how fewer and fewer people go to concert halls, why don’t we find a way to bring the concert experience to them?”
With her characteristic enthusiastic Wesleyan-woman spirit, Chenny is ready to encourage and guide the next generation of Wesleyan musicians with her innovative and creative techniques. “I can’t wait to show students how to use music as a way to touch people, create community, and foster lifelong learning and exchange with people all over the world,” she said.
“If you have the motivation, there are so many opportunities at Wesleyan waiting to be explored. Dig them out and create your own accomplishments. And when you do accomplish, you’ll get noticed.”