Notice of Online Archive

  • This page is no longer being updated and remains online for informational and historical purposes only. The information is accurate as of the last page update.

    For questions about page contents, contact the Communications Division.

Classical luminary Christopher O’Riley and jazz headliner Fred Hersch are both known for their originality, musical integrity, and a wonderful curiosity and quest for fresh creative paths of music-making. The pianists will join forces for Heardfresh, a duo program 8 p.m. tonight at the Williams Center for the Arts.

Tickets are free for students, $4 for faculty and staff, and $18 for the public. They can be purchased by calling the box office at 610-330-5009.

The program will feature Bach’s popular Concerto for Two Pianos in C Major and Hersch’s own composition, 24 Variations on a Bach Chorale,based on material from St. Matthew Passion, as well as music by Samuel Barber, Strayhorn/Ellington, O’Riley’s arrangements of music by Radiohead, and additional works by Hersch.

O’Riley is one of today’s most in-demand pianists, both as recitalist and concerto soloist. With prizes from the Cliburn, Leeds, Busoni, and Montreal competitions and the prestigious Avery Fisher Prize to his credit, he has appeared in the leading cultural centers throughout the world and enjoys frequent return engagements with major orchestras. He toured the U.S. with the world-famous Academy of St. Martin in the Fields Chamber Orchestra, visiting 10 cities in two weeks, playing Bach, Mozart, and Lizst concerti. He also has recently appeared with Los Angeles Philharmonic at the Hollywood Bowl, Minnesota Orchestra, and Pittsburgh Symphony.

As much as he has excelled in these traditional pursuits, however, O’Riley’s true genius lies in his boundary-breaking collaborations. With Argentine pianist Pablo Ziegler, he created a touring ensemble specializing in tango music of Astor Piazzolla. He partnered with avant-garde theater artist Martha Clarke in a dazzling production of Chekhov dramas, set to the music of Alexander Scriabin. His acclaimed transcriptions of ballet music by Stravinsky have led to other musical adventures, including his graceful concert-hall arrangements of music by British alternative rock band Radiohead, some of which he’ll perform at Lafayette. His first recording of Radiohead transcriptions, True Love Waits, received four stars from Rolling Stone and was as critically acclaimed as it was commercially successful.

The New York Times considers him “superbfleet-fingered, virile, incisive yet lyrical, reflective and full of ideas.” “Christopher O’Riley is a pianist apart, a link or leap between the romantic era and the late 20th century,” states San Francisco Chronicle.

O’Riley hosts the popular National Public Radio series “From the Top,” which showcases talented young musicians from all over the country. His work with, and appeal to, younger audiences has led him to become artistic director of International Young Artists Festival on Hilton Head Island every May. Last year he hosted Laguna Beach Chamber Music Festival. Concerts of his transcriptions have taken him to jazz festivals in Istanbul, London, Sicily, and Sedieres as well as on a tour of the United Kingdom. His recent work on transcriptions includes songs by Tears for Fears and George Harrison.

A Guggenheim honoree and two-time Grammy nominee for Best Jazz Instrumental Performance, Hersch will release a solo CD next month, Fred Hersch in Amsterdam: Live at the Bimhuis, that has led to him becoming the first pianist in the 70-year history of the Village vanguard to play an entire week solo.

Hersch enjoys acclaim from devoted fans and glowing accolades from some of the top music critics in the country. The New Yorker calls his 2003 album, Live from the Village Vanguard, “one of the most satisfying recordings of this superb pianist’s career” and states that “Hersch’s work has developed an intensity of intelligence and emotional directness unparalleled among his peers.” He has been called “one of his generation’s most gifted interpreters of the American songbook” by The Washington Post and “one of the leading lights of this generation’s pianists” by Jazz Times.

Last season, when the Fred Hersch Trio performed at the Williams Center, listeners were treated to generous displays of the refinement, expressive brilliance, and lyrical power that are trademarks of Hersch’s playing. Yet this appearance showed but one aspect of the depth of this creative mind, shown recently in a national tour of Hersch’s major new song cycle based on Walt Whitman’s Leaves of Grass, and his much celebrated recording with soprano Renée Fleming.

He has recorded more than two dozen albums as a solo artist or bandleader, co-led another 20 sessions, and appeared as a sideman or featured soloist on some 80 further recordings. He received a Rockefeller Fellowship for a composition residency at Bellagio Center in Italy.

Hersch’s dance score for “Out Someplace,” commissioned by the Doris Duke Foundation’s Millennium Project for the Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company, premiered at Kennedy Center. He also has received commissions from Gilmore Keyboard Festival, Opus 21 Ensemble, The Gramercy Trio, and Columbia University’s Miller Theatre. He has appeared as a soloist with orchestras across the U.S. and Europe, including the Pittsburgh, Utah, Vermont, and Santa Rosa Symphonies, Toronto Sinfonietta, BBC Radio Orchestra, Hungary’s Mendelssohn Chamber Orchestra, and Sinfonietta Caracas of Venezuela. At home in New York City, he has performed with both the Eos and Concordia Orchestras.

Hersch was a faculty member at New England Conservatory for 10 years and has taught at The New School Jazz Program and Manhattan School of Music. He has been a visiting lecturer at the Institutes for Advanced Studies at both Princeton University and Indiana University, and he is a visiting professor at Western Michigan University.

Hersch and O’Riley went to school together, followed different career paths — and wandered off those paths in search of ever more intriguing musical ideas — and finally have come together for a unique collaborative musical exploration.

The nationally recognized Performance Series at Lafayette attracts more than 10,000 people each season. It has been cited for performing excellence by the National Endowment for the Arts, National Dance Project, Chamber Music America, Lila Wallace Reader’s Digest Fund, Pennsylvania Arts and Humanities Councils, and Association of Performing Arts Presenters.

The 2005–06 Performance Series is supported in part by gifts from Friends of the Williams Center for the Arts; by provisions of the Alan and Wendy Pesky Artist-in-Residence Program, the James Bradley Fund, and the Ed Brunswick Jazz Fund; and by grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, Mid-Atlantic Arts Foundation, Pennsylvania Performing Arts on Tour, the Dexter and Dorothy Baker Foundation, and New England Foundation for the Arts.

Categorized in: News and Features