Sunday, October 26, 2014

Pick of the Week - Christopher O'Riley at Olin


Pianist Christopher O'Riley

    Located on the beautiful campus of Washington and Jefferson College in Washington, Pa., the Olin Fine Arts Center is one of my favorite entertainment venues in the Greater Pittsburgh region. Comfortable, spacious and with great acoustics and sound and light systems, the Center is the home to art exhibits, concerts, theater, film, dance and more each year. To make matters even more attractive, ticket prices are unbelievably low, generally at $12 for general admission and $10 for seniors and non-W&J students.
    At 7:30 p.m. this Wednesday, renowned pianist Christopher O'Riley, host of the NPR music program, "From the Top," will appear in concert. His repertoire for his "Out of My Hands" concert usually includes works by R.E.M., Portishead, Cocteau Twins, Pink Floyd, Nirvana, The Bad Plus, The Smiths, Tears for Fears as well as material from Radiohead and Elliot Smith.
    Mr O'Riley is regarded as one of the leading American pianists of his generation and is known for his compelling musings on music and popular culture. Heralded by "Rolling Stone" for his "unblinking virtuosity," the pianist has toured extensively as a recitalist and chamber musician and has appeared with every major American orchestra.
    Now in his fifteenth year on air, Mr. O'Riley introduces the next generation of classical music stars to almost a million listeners each week on "From the Top," broadcast by 250 stations across the United States. He's also hosted the Emmy Award-winning television series "From the Top at Carnegie Hall," and has collaborated with Yo-Yo Ma, Bobby McFarrin, Midori, Bela Fleck, Joshua Bell, Hilary Hahn, Sir James Galway, Michael Feinstein and many more.
    A prolific recording artist, O'Riley has recorded the music of Beethoven, Stravinsky, Scriabin, Liszt, Ravel, Gershwin, Debussy and John Adams for Sony Classical, Oxingale Records, RCA Red Seal, Decca and Harmonia Mundi. His most recent solo recording featured two discs of Liszt's transcriptions, including songs by Schumann and Schubert, the opera paraphrase on Mozart's "Don Giovanni," the Don Juan Fantasy and Liszt's own transcription of Berlioz's "Symphony Fantastique," liberally re-imagined by O'Riley.
    Also a voracious reader, Mr. O'Riley has developed a number of projects combining music and literature. He's composed scores for works of Mark Z. Danielewski and Kris Saknussemm. Most recently, he collaborated with choreographer Martha Clarke on "Vers la Flamme," a fully-staged production with six dancers based on the short stories of Anton Chekhov set to the music of Alexander Scriabin. This program was performed at Lincoln Center, The American Dance Festival, Jacob's Pillow Festival and the Kewnnedy Center.
    For reservations for his October 29th concert at the Olin Fine Arts Center, 60 South Lincoln Street in Washington, phone 724-223-OLIN (6546).

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