Rochester, NY — The Eastman School of Music’s first-ever Grand Pianists series, which debuted in December with Emanuel Ax, continues with Christopher O’Riley on February 14 at Eastman Theatre.
O’Riley has redefined the possibilities of classical music and its audience in recent years by combining traditional repertoire with transcriptions of contemporary rock music. He’s particularly taken with the critically revered English quintet, Radiohead, and has released two albums of his Radiohead solo piano arrangements: “True Love Waits” and “Hold Me To This”.
The 49-year old pianist led rock and fusion bands before playing jazz professionally during his high school years, but studied classical piano at the New England Conservatory. He was already an established classical performer and recording artist when he began experimenting with the music of what he calls “the greatest band in the world”. He sees the resulting commercially successful albums as experiments in audience outreach.
“I’ll get e-mails from somebody saying, ‘I really love your Radiohead record. I see you’re playing a Mozart concerto in San Diego. I’ve been meaning to give him a try,’” said O’Riley in a recent Associated Press interview. “If classical music can give you the same charge as being in a mosh pit, then that’s great music.”
He’s also gathered fans as a result of hosting the most popular classical music radio show on the air today: From the Top (locally available on WXXI – FM 91.5, Sundays at 5 p.m.). On the show, O’Riley showcases and performs with the next generation of brilliant young musicians, many of whom have gone on to study at the Eastman School of Music.
O’Riley’s solo recital program at the Eastman Theatre on Valentine’s Day will feature works by Dmitri Shostakovich as well as his Radiohead arrangements. Tickets to the 8 p.m. concert are $15, $20, $25 and $30 (with discounts to UR ID holders), and are available in person at the RPO Box Office (108 East Avenue), by phone at 585-454-2100, online at www.esm.rochester.edu/concerts, or at any Rochester-area Wegmans Video Department.
Please note : high-resolution photos of Mr. O’Riley are available upon request. Interviews may also be arranged.