From Stravinsky to Radiohead, musicians Christopher O’Riley and Matt Haimovitz pay homage to different genres

February 16, 2012

Pianist Christopher O’Riley has a simple philosophy when it comes to music. “There’s good music and the other kind,” he says.

O’Riley, host of the weekly radio program, “From the Top,” which airs on NPR and showcases the work ofHAIMOVITZORILEY young musicians from all over the country, will be showcasing his own talent 7:30 Saturday night at the Lied Center with Grammy-nominated cellist Matt Haimovitz. The musicians will perform works from their new CD “Shuffle. Play. Listen” (Oxingale Records), a double album that brings together classical and contemporary music.

O’Riley and Haimovitz have spent their careers blurring the lines between different musical genres. Haimovitz, an Israeli born cellist who attended Juilliard and Harvard, is known for bringing classical music to non-traditional venues such as night clubs, restaurants and bars. And the Chicago-born O’Riley, who started a rock band as a youngster, began performing Radiohead songs in concert halls over a decade ago as a time-filler between longer pieces by composers such as Debussy and Rachmaninoff.

After the two musicians ended up with the same manager some years ago, perhaps it was only a matter of time before they collaborated on a project, given their individual desires to break down barriers and expand the definition of what is acceptable in different venues.

“There is greatness is many kinds of music,” O’Riley recently told KPR radio host Mark Edwards. “Both Matt and I play what we like.”Shuffle.Play.Listen

And what they like runs the gamut as their CD includes music from Stravinsky’s “Suite Italienne” and Janacek’s “Fairy Tale,” to Arcade Fire’s “Empty Room” and Radiohead’s “Pyramid Song.”

“Music should be evaluated it on its own merits,” says O’Riley. “And there shouldn’t be any genre prejudice.”

And now Haimovitz and O’Riley want us to evaluate different songs for Saturday’s show. If you go to the Lied Center’s website,, you can vote for what you want to hear Saturday night before watching their live performance.

“We go to concerts to be enlightened, entertained, and inspired,” says O’Riley. “That is what this music does for us. These performances make us change and grow and we want to recreate that experience.

“It’s really good music and we’re excited to play it.”

by Margie Carr

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