Cheryl Tiano, an agent for the Gorfaine-Schwartz Agency representing film, TV and game composers, died Monday night of complications from heart surgery. She was 59.
The agency issued this statement Tuesday night: “It is with deepest sorrow that we mourn the passing of our dear friend and colleague Cheryl Tiano. Cheryl was a beloved member of our GSA family for nearly 30 years… It is impossible to express how deeply we will miss her.”
The Society of Composers & Lyricists added, “Cheryl had long ago taken her place amongst the top tier of composer agents in the entertainment industry. Her clients loved her, and she loved repping them. She is an enormous loss to our media music community.”
Tiano was a rare instance of a composer agent who was actually a musician. Born in Cincinnati, Ohio, she studied composition at Boston’s Berklee College of Music and later graduated from California Institute of the Arts, where she found a passion for the business side of the music industry.
She spent several years working with high-profile concert-music organizations, including the prestigious Monday Evening Concert series at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, known for its premiere performances of original works by 20th century composers.
Tiano joined the Gorfaine-Schwartz Agency in May 1993. Over the years she represented many of the agency’s high-profile composers in the film and TV realm and, several years ago, spearheaded the agency’s interactive division, handling video game composers as well.
GSA partner Sam Schwartz told Variety, “Cheryl was sensitive to the art form itself, and to the artist who created it. She had a unique, effervescent personality. She was dedicated to her clients, her work, her relationships.”
Added GSA partner Michael Gorfaine, “She had all this talent as a representative and, as a colleague, she was detail-oriented and homework-driven — and had all that wrapped around a core of loving music, decency and integrity. She never wavered from those values.”
Both praised her foresight in helping to elevate game music to the prominence it has today, involving high-profile composers and encouraging game publishers to enhance their soundtracks with huge orchestras.
Among the composers she represented over the years were Brian Tyler (“Avengers: Age of Ultron”), Steve Jablonsky (“Transformers”), George S. Clinton (“Austin Powers”), Sean Callery (“24”), Gabriel Mann (“Modern Family”) and Jesper Kyd (“Assassin’s Creed”).
Said Tyler: “Cheryl was one of the smartest, most loving, and incredible human beings I’ve ever had the privilege to know for the last 24 years as my agent and friend. She was a true beacon in the music world and a champion for change for so many. My heart goes out to everyone who knew and loved her. This loss is incalculable.”
Added Clinton: “Cheryl was that rarest of rare combination of a really great person and a really great agent. I feel so fortunate to have been both her client and her friend. Hollywood will be a darker place now because we’ve lost her bright light.”
Callery, on Facebook, said: “The word ‘agent’ is too impersonal. She was someone I loved and trusted unconditionally with absolutely anything. She often knew more what was going on in my head than I did. I suppose the word ‘consigliere’ comes closer, but not quite. Not once in 24 years of conversation did she ever put me on hold or step away. If God ever needs an agent, he sure has one now.”
Survivors include her husband of 15 years, Frank Gerechter; stepson Joseph Simon of Cambridge, Mass.; father Hi Tiano of Los Angeles; and sister Linda Tiano of New Jersey. A memorial service will be held at a later date. In lieu of flowers, the family is suggesting donations in her name to local animal rescue organizations.