Christopher O’Riley

Concert pianist and host of the radio program “From the Top”, Christopher O’Riley, is in Athens, GA right now recording an album which will include his interpretations of Radiohead’s music. Here’s some more info from Online Athens:

O’Riley has played the compositions recorded on the CD — namely those by British band Radiohead — publicly before, on his radio show, in concerts and as a guest on National Public Radio’s ”Performance Today.”
The response to a classical pianist — who’s earned top prizes at such prestigious competitions as Van Cliburn, Leeds, Busoni and Montreal, and won the Avery Fisher Career Grant and the Andrew Wolf Memorial Chamber Music Prize — playing modern rock music was exceptionally positive. Mark Mobley, music producer for ”Performance Today,” was in fact so impressed he acted as producer for the project.
But the recording was something greater than O’Riley simply sitting at the piano playing his favorite Radiohead tunes.
”Not being an improviser, I didn’t think it was fair to approach the sessions without scoring each one,” he said. ”Before, it was more like I was playing ‘at’ these songs, sort of a rough sketch of what I came up with for the CD. … And I wanted to get the best of those ideas on paper. So I started about a week and a half ago getting all of these songs down — and it only took me about a week and half to figure out how completely unplayable they are,” he added with a laugh.
For those unfamiliar, Radiohead is a multi-Grammy winning and critically acclaimed band that plays richly textured orchestrations, often incorporating non-traditional instruments into their songs. So paring down such a host of sounds into a piece for the piano proved no small task.
Then again, to a classical musician whose fingers can find their way around Shostakovich, Radiohead’s intricacy is at least one reason the music is so appealing.
”Their sophistication is part of the hook of the group,” O’Riley admitted. ”But at the same time, the power of each component part — the lushness of this wall of sound created by three guitar players — isn’t something I can necessarily recreate. It’s more a matter of the lines and how they build up to create such a beautiful structure. The first thing that attracts me to any music is the way it creates a color or mood.”
O’Riley said he hasn’t received any feedback from the band about his piano compositions, and doesn’t necessarily expect to; though he found it rather funny that coincidentally, while he was in Athens recording, the band was in a Los Angeles recording studio just down the street from his house there.

Read the full article.
(thanks to Mark Mobley)

By Jonathan

New York, NY