Christopher O’Riley Brings His Eclectic Piano Style to Omaha
March 13th, 2014
Omaha, NE — Franz Liszt and Modern Rock converge on Omaha.
Coming this Saturday evening to the 1200 Club at the Holland Center is genre-defying pianist and radio host, Christopher Oâ€™Riley. Oâ€™Riley is the host of NPRâ€™s â€œFrom the Topâ€ and says that radio runs in his family.
â€œMy late stepfather, Jack Summers, was the founder of WQED-FM, the Classical station in Pittsburgh, and soon after his death my mother, Ceci Sommers, took over the station.â€
Oâ€™Riley is a Classically trained pianist who developed a truly eclectic taste in music in his youth.
â€œThings like the day-off release of the first Led Zeppelin album, hearing that at midnight was a pretty formative experience. I actually go to see the Doors perform in Chicago, where I grew up.â€
Saturdayâ€™s program will include traditional Classical fare alongside Oâ€™Rileyâ€™s own arrangements from popular bands.
â€œThe program is freewheeling. I mean, I do Classical repertoire and Iâ€™ll be pulling heavily from my latest Liszt recording. And then a lot of the rest of the program will be my own arrangements of things like Radiohead, Pink Floyd, Nirvana, and a couple of new things, probably a couple of new arrangements by Velvet Underground.â€
Incredibly, Oâ€™Riley began creating these arrangements for â€œFrom the Topâ€ as filler that some stations wouldnâ€™t even air!
â€œThere was this halfway point Â in the hour broadcast where the local stations would either play what we sent them or not and break away for local business. We didnâ€™t want our kids to be in that slot and worry about them not being heard. So that was my solo spot, and once I ran out of two-part inventions and Chopin preludes, I started doing these arrangements of Radiohead and Nick Drake and folks like that.
The transcriptions proved highly popular, among even the most dedicated Classical music fans.
â€œYou would hear our announcer saying, â€˜That was our host, Christopher Oâ€™Riley play Karma Police by Radiohead,â€™ and we got the email into the program saying â€˜Who is this Mr. Head and where can I find more of his beautiful music?â€™â€
When looking for songs to arrange, Oâ€™Riley looks for specific sounds that he can work with and bring out on the piano.
â€œIâ€™m a real sucker for a beautiful harmony, a chord that gets under your skin and makes your skin tingle. The other thing that I really like is a conversation, a counterpoint in music.â€
Omaha Performing Arts presents pianist Christopher Oâ€™Riley at the 1200 CLUB inside the Holland Performing Arts Center on Saturday, March 15, 2014, at 8:00 p.m. Tickets and information are available by calling (402) 345-0606 or online at TicketOmaha.com.
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