He's charming, articulate, and a different kind of classical pianist. From his groundbreaking transcriptions of Radiohead to his powerful interpretations of repertoire classic and contemporary, pianist Christopher O'Riley has redefined the possibilities of classical music. He has taken his unique vision to both traditional classical music venues and symphonic settings, as well as to entirely new audiences on the radio, at universities and even clubs. As host of the most popular classical music radio show on the air today, National Public Radio's From the Top, Mr. O'Riley works and performs with the next generation of brilliant young musicians, demonstrating to audiences, with humour and lack of pretense, that these young artists are as diverse in their personal lives as they are in their music-making. In 2007, From the Top was filmed for public television in Zankel Concert Hall at Carnegie Hall and debuted on PBS in the spring. The series is now airing its third season.
Performances in the 2008-2009 season include tours with James Galway and cellist Carter Brey, recitals at the University of Colorado, Duke University, and orchestral engagements with the Baltimore Symphony, New Mexico Symphony, and Atlantic Classical Orchestra. At the Miller Theatre in New York City, Mr. O'Riley will showcase his own arrangements alongside classical repertoire in three programs juxtaposing works of Shostakovich (Preludes and Fugues) with Radiohead, Debussy (Images and Estampes) with Nick Drake, and Schumann (Arabeske and Kreisleriana) with Elliott Smith. This season also finds O'Riley playing recitals in Europe: London, Paris, Munich, Berlin, Salzburg and Vienna.
His first recording of Radiohead transcriptions, "True Love Waits" (Sony/Odyssey) received 4 stars from Rolling Stone and was both critically acclaimed and commercially successful. His second set of music from the British alt-pop outfit, entitled "Hold Me to This: Christopher O'Riley plays the music of Radiohead," was released on World Village/Harmonia Mundi to a similarly enthusiastic response. In April 2006, his third set of transcriptions was released on the same label. Entitled "Home to Oblivion; An Elliott Smith Tribute," Mr. O'Riley tackled the deeply emotional and complex work from the troubled singer/songwriter who died prematurely in 2003. His most recent recording, released in April 2007 and entitled "Second Grace: The Music of Nick Drake", is a disc of transcriptions of the music by the British folk singer. Nick Drake died in 1974 after releasing just 3 albums, yet influenced two generations of songwriters in his wake.