By: Liz Slocum ~Staff Writer~
Professional pianist and radio host Christopher O’Riley made an appearance at the Gallagher
Student Center Theatre.
O’Riley is known to the public not only as a piano recitalist, but also as the host of popular classical radio show, “From the Top,” which introduces new Classical music performers. The show has been going on for 15 years and currently reaches audiences through more than 200 radio stations every week.
For his Sept. 28 performance, O’Riley announced his own songs to the audience, making the performance a personal and intimate experience.
Between songs, he took the time to describe the background of each one and why the particular song was important to him.
Starting with a Radiohead song, “Airbag,” O’Riley began the performance by walking out onto
the stage, taking his place at the piano without a word and finishing the piece all before introducing the song.
He told the audience a little about the band in case they did not “know Radiohead from a hole in the head.”
The performance was filled with both classic and contemporary pieces, featuring songs from Radiohead and Beach House as well as contemporary jazz ensemble The Bad Plus, mixed in with two classical sonatas, “Sonata No. 9” by Alexander Scriabin and “Sonata No. 2” by Sergei Rachmaninoff.
Most of the numbers were O’Riley’s own arrangements, which gave the audience a glance
at O’Riley as not only an accomplished performer but also a musical innovator.
It isn’t very often that one hears a modern song brought into the realm of classical music style as seamlessly as O’Riley managed to perform.
O’Riley’s unique piano style does an excellent job of fusing together the old and the new without compromising either one.
Xavier University is truly fortunate to have had the privilege of hosting this rare performer of music and radio.