He then moved to California, where he got a Ph.D. in Musicology and Music Criticism from the University of California at Davis, and from 1999 to 2004 he has been a member of the UC Davis Gospel Choir, where he served as assistant conductor to Calvin Lymos, the choir's principal director.
As a composer, conductor, pianist, and musical saw / Vietnamese dan bau soloist, Luciano Chessa has been active in Europe, the U.S., and Australia. Compositions include "Variazioni su un oggetto di scena" ( 2002), for piano and stuffed toys, a piano and percussion duet after Pier Paolo Pasolini’s "Petrolio", written for Sarah Cahill and Chris Froh and presented in 2004 at the American Academy in Rome, "Il pedone dell’aria" for orchestra and double children choir, premiered in 2006 at the Auditorium of Turin's Lingotto and subsequently released on DVD, collaborations with video artist Terry Berlier (among them "Louganis" for piano and Tv/Vcr combo - performed at the Monday Evening Concerts in 2010 - and "Inkless Imagination IV" for viola, mini-bass musical saw, turntables, piano, percussion, FM radios, blimp and video projection - premiered at UC Davis' Mondavi Center by the Empyrean Ensemble), and more recently, A Heavenly Act, an opera commissioned by SFMOMA with a libretto by Gertrude Stein and video by Kalup Linzy, premiered on August 19, 2011, at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in San Francisco.
As a musicologist, his areas of research include twentieth-century, experimental, and late fourteenth-century music (Ars Subtilior). Following his years of researches and performances on Italian Futurism, in 2001 he has given the modern premiere of Francesco Cangiullo’s Futurist sound poems "Piedigrotta" and "Serata in onore di Yvonne" to critical acclaim. His Futurist expertise then resulted in an invitation by RoseLee Goldberg, General Director of the New York-based Biennale of the Arts PERFORMA to direct the first reconstruction project of Russolo’s earliest intonarumori orchestra, and to curate concerts of music specifically commissioned for this orchestra.
The new Intonarumori ensemble was premiered in October 2009 at San Francisco’s YBCA’s Novellus Theater and then presented in NYC’s Town Hall in November for PERFORMA 09 - both events being co-produced by PERFORMA and SFMOMA, and featuring Minna Choi's Magik*Magik Orchestra. This production presented an impressive array of world premieres written by such composers and ensembles as Blixa Bargeld, John Butcher, Tony Conrad, James Fei, Ellen Fullman, Carla Kihlstedt + Matthias Bossi, Ulrich Krieger, Joan La Barbara, Pauline Oliveros, Mike Patton, Elliott Sharp, Jennifer Walshe, Theresa Wong, Text of Light. The production, also featuring Chessa’s L’acoustique ivresse, for bassvoice and intonarumori ensemble and the modern premiere of Russolo's Risveglio di una città in a new diplomatic edition by Chessa, was hailed by the New York Times among the best events in the arts of 2009.
In September 2010 Chessa presented the Intonarumori in the first Italian appearance at the MART museum in Rovereto, Italy, as part of the Festival Transart, featuring performances by Blixa Bargeld, Nicholas Isherwood and Sylvano Bussotti (performing his "Variazione Russolo-Slancio d'angoli" accompanied by Isherwood and the Intonarumori orchestra), and two new commissioned pieces by Margareth Kammerer and Teho Teardo. In March 2011 Chessa conducted the Orchestra of Futurist Noise Intoners in a sold out concert for Berliner Festspiele Maerzmusik Festival, which included "Gramophone Saraswati," a new piece by Amelia Cuni and Werner Durand. In December 2011 Chessa conducted the project with the New World Symphony in their new Frank Gehry designed New World Center's Concert Hall as part of a Performa-curated special event to celebrate the tenth anniversary of Art Basel | Miami Beach. The performance included Joan La Barbara's "Striations" and the premiere of Lee Ranaldo’s "It All Begins Now (Whose Streets? Our Streets!)".
In 2008 he founded is own label, Strawberry Hill Records, self-publishing recordings from 2003-2007 and an anthology of early, mainly home recordings from 1990 to 98.
In 2012 the the University of California Press published his "Luigi Russolo Futurist. Noise, Visual Arts, and the Occult", the first monograph ever to be dedicated to Russolo and his Art of Noise, that was met by enthusiastic reviews.