The Well-Tempered Ear

Classical music education: NPR gets rid of pianist Christopher O’Riley as a long-time host of “From the Top”

July 15, 2018
9 Comments

By Jacob Stockinger

If you are a fan of the award-winning program “From the Top” – which spotlights talented young classical musicians (below) and is broadcast weekly on National Public Radio (NPR) – you will want to know that this season is the last one for pianist Christopher O’Riley (below), who has hosted the show for the past 18 years.

NPR is not renewing his contract and O’Riley will NOT return for the 2018-19 season.

“From the Top” airs locally on Sunday nights — including tonight — at 8 p.m. on Wisconsin Public Radio (WPR).

You might recall that O’Riley — a gifted and award-winning pianist is his own right — has also played his own concerts in Madison.

Years ago, he played his solo piano transcriptions of rock songs by Radiohead at the Wisconsin Union Theater.

This past spring, he played a Mozart piano concerto to close the season of the Madison Symphony Orchestra.

For more about the 61-year-old O’Riley, here is a link to his biography on Wikipedia:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christopher_O%27Riley

For the radio program, he accompanied some of the talented young classical musicians who were featured, and also provided short interludes of solo piano music, which were compiled on a CD several years ago.

For more about the show (below), go to: https://www.fromthetop.org and view the YouTube video at the bottom, which features a behind-the-scenes look at the show:

Although it focuses on string players who have appeared on “From the Top,” here is a story, with many names and details, from The Violin Channel:

https://theviolinchannel.com/christopher-oriley-from-the-top-radio-tv-let-go-contract-not-renewed/

One thing worth mentioning is that O’Riley’s departure will NOT mark the end of the show. “From the Top” will continue with guest hosts, some of whom will be successful or famous alumni of the show.

What do you think of the news about Christopher O’Riley?

What do you think of “From the Top”?

What do you think of Christopher O’Riley as a host and a pianist?

The Ear wants to hear.


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

October 25, 2012
3 Comments

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 www.wpr.org. 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.


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