At the beginning of his career, pianist Christopher O'Riley made his name with recordings of classical music by Stravinsky, Beethoven, Ravel and Busoni. But he entered a whole new musical world after hearing the alternative rock band Radiohead.
O'Riley became obsessed with the English group's music and transcribed it for solo piano. He quickly found an audience outside of classical music listeners for his CDs and recitals of Radiohead tunes. In the past couple years he's also been exploring the music of the late Elliot Smith and Nick Drake while still touring with the traditional classical repertoire of Bach, Mozart and Liszt.
O'Riley was in the Twin Cities this week conducting a master class at the MacPhail Center for Music. The event was part of the grand opening of the institution's new facility in downtown Minneapolis.
During a visit to Minnesota Public Radio he spoke with host Steve Staruch about playing the music of non-classical artists like Eliott Smith and his idea of the piano as a "paint box."