Pianist Talks Inspiration, Influence and More

Piano extraordinaire Christopher O’Riley will close out the Lansing Symphony Orchestra’s 83rd season on Thursday, May 9, at the Wharton Center. O’Riley will perform Sergei Rachmaninoff’s “Piano Concerto No.1” with Maestro Timothy Muffitt and the Lansing Symphony Orchestra. Here’s what O’Riley had to say to CAWLM about the program and his career: Q: What can audiences expect from your performance at the Wharton Center with Maestro Timothy Muffitt and the Lansing Symphony Orchestra? A: I recently performed with Tim and the Baton Rouge Symphony and had a great time. It’s a pleasure to be working with him. He’s an incredibly supportive conductor. The program is one of the great romantic pieces of Rachmaninoff. It’s extraordinary and energetic. It’s about as close to a rock concert as you can get. Q: What were your biggest influences growing up? A: I’m not really sure if I had one specific influence. However, I always liked the idea of music and that you could immerse yourself into it. Q: What inspires you to compose and play music? A: Having some alone time allows me to be fully open to the experience. It gives me time to improvise and find new ways to play. I hear something in my head and try to play it on the piano or another instrument. It’s like feeling your way through the door. Q: Do you prefer to play solo or with others? Why? A: I prefer to play with others. I’m inspired by the differences in instruments and how they interact in a spontaneous way. It’s a special and passionate feeling to work with others, especially conductors like Tim. Q: What is one challenge of being a pianist? A: Being a pianist is like training for an Olympic event. It’s hard to figure out and keep all the music in your head. Q: What do you do in your spare time? A: I read. A lot. At the moment, I’m currently reading The Jaguar Hunter by Lucius Shepard. Shepard happens to be a favorite author of mine. Q: Who is your favorite musician? Why? A: It’s difficult to say who my favorite musician is. It’s usually who I’m working on at the moment. For this particular program it would be Rachmaninoff. I really have to feel like the composer when working on and playing his music. Q: What advice can you give to aspiring musicians? A: I’m here to say to all young musicians to follow your instincts. Indulge in your cross genre interests and put all your passion into music. It allows you to create your profile and become an essential artist. See Christopher O’Riley perform Rachmaninoff’s “Piano Concerto No.1” with Maestro Timothy Muffitt and the Lansing Symphony Orchestra The Wharton Center, May 9, 8 p.m. www.whartoncenter.com

Tags: Christopher O'Riley, Lansing Symphony Orchestra, wharton center

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