The Well-Tempered Ear

Classical music: Cellist Matt Haimovitz and pianist Christopher O’Riley open Lawrence University’s guest artist concert season this Saturday night. | October 25, 2012

By Jacob Stockinger

APPLETON, WIS. — Combining individual virtuosity into a musical collaboration that blends classical and pop music genres, cellist Matt Haimovitz and pianist Christopher O’Riley (below) open Lawrence University‘s 2012-13 Artist Series this Saturday, Oct. 27, at 8 p.m. in the historic Lawrence Memorial Chapel (exterior photo is below top; interior, in a photo by Frank S. Hada, is below bottom), located in Appleton, about 90 miles or a two-hour drive from Madison. 

Tickets, at $22-$20 for adults, $19-$17 for seniors, and $17-$15 for students. Tickets are available through the Lawrence Box Office in the Music-Drama Center, or by calling 920-832-6749.

The concert will showcase the award-winning talents of Haimovitz and O’Riley as collaborators and soloists in an eclectic program featuring works ranging from J.S. Bach to Astor Piazzolla, Igor Stravinsky to Radiohead.

Since making his musical debut at the age of 13 with Zubin Mehta and the Israel Philharmonic, Haimovitz (below) has established himself as a musical pioneer and visionary, widely known for his trademark solo cello recitals, performed with many of the world’s most prestigious musical ensembles, among them the Berlin Philharmonic, the New York Philharmonic and the English Chamber Orchestra. 

Performing on a 1710 Venetian cello made by Matteo Gofriller, Haimovitz drew raves for his Bach “Listening-Room” tour in which he took Bach’s beloved cello suites from the concert hall to clubs – incluing the Cafe Carpe in Fort Atkinson, Wisconsin, and the High Noon Saloon in Madison  — across the U.S., Canada, and the United Kingdom.

O’Riley, who subscribes to the Duke Ellington adage, “there are only two kinds of music, good music and bad,” is one of the leading interpreters of popular contemporary music. His discography includes two CDs of his own versions of Radiohead songs, a tribute to the works of singer/songwriter Nick Drake and 2009’s “Out of My Hands,” which was inspired by the works of Nirvana, REM, Pink Floyd, Tori Amos and Portishead, among others.

O’Riley (below) began classical piano studies at the age of four but his interests eventually shifted to pop music and in the sixth grade he started his own band.

In addition to touring, O’Riley hosts the weekly National Public Radio program “From the Top” (below), which spotlights rising young classical musicians. (The NPR show airs on Wisconsin Public Radio on Sunday nights at 8 p.m. For more information, visit And Riley performed a recital of Shostakovich and Radiohead several years ago at the Wisconsin Union Theater.)

About Lawrence University

Founded in 1847, Lawrence University uniquely integrates a college of liberal arts and sciences with a world-class conservatory of music, both devoted exclusively to undergraduate education. It was selected for inclusion in the Fiske Guide to Colleges 2013 and the book “Colleges That Change Lives: 40 Schools That Will Change the Way You Think About College.” Individualized learning, the development of multiple interests and community engagement are central to the Lawrence experience. Lawrence draws its 1,450 students from nearly every state and more than 50 countries. Follow Lawrence on Facebook.


  1. Jake: Haimovitiz (and perhaps O’Riley) would seem like a natural for a Wisconsin Union Theater booking — young, edgy and gifted. I saw Haimovitz a few years ago at, of all places, the folk club Cape Carpe in Fort Atkinson, playing an extreme modern program where Eliott Carter was the one composer I knew. Earlier, Haimovitz played (and I missed) a bravura solo performance at The Frequency rock club near campus.

    I would suggest that If classical-music presenters in Madison want to attract a wider and younger audience, they need to bring artists like Haimovitz to town.

    –Marc Eisen


    Comment by meisen — October 28, 2012 @ 9:17 pm

    • Hi Marc,
      O’Riley has indeed played at the Wisconsin Union Theater, and the WUT has been bringing in younger performers.
      Sometimes it seems to work, and sometimes it doesn’t.
      I myself don’t think there is one solution to the problem of building audiences and attracting young people for classical music.
      Pianist Emanuel Ax and cellist Yo-Yo Ma will fill a house; so will some of the younger edgier artists like Alisa Weilerstein, a MacArthur genius grant winner who has also appeared at the WUT.
      I know they are working on it.
      We’ll see what they come up with — and hope for the best,
      Also, the local chapters of Classical Revolution and NEW MUSE (New Music Everywhere) as well as the UW School of Music’s Guest Artist Series (the JACK Quartet) are also helping to bring in edgier, non-traditional music.
      Thanks for reading and replying.


      Comment by welltemperedear — October 29, 2012 @ 11:26 am

  2. Hi, Jake. I was glad to read this, as I’m friendly with Matt. His wife Luna Woolf was a student of mine at Harvard, and Concert Choir and I premiered her piece for (other than cello) a cappella choir and Matt a few years ago. We recorded it and it got a favorable review from the New York Times. It’s called “Apres Moi le Deluge” Did you hear that concert? or would you like a recording? Bev


    Comment by Beverly Taylor — October 25, 2012 @ 4:48 pm

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