Pianist and NPR host Christopher O'Riley to speak at 2013 Mason Gross School Convocation

This year’s Mason Gross School convocation speaker is pianist and NPR From the Top host Christopher ORiley. Commencement is set for 2:30 p.m. Saturday, May 18, 2013, at the State Theatre in downtown New Brunswick.

O’Riley, who performed at the school's SummerFest in 1998, has redefined the possibilities of classical music through media, contemporary music and innovative programming. In addition to hosting From the Top’s radio and television programs and appearing with top orchestras and festivals around the world, O’Riley is an interpreter of some of the most important contemporary popular music of our time. He lives by the Duke Ellington adage, “there are only two kinds of music, good music and bad.”

O’Riley has performed two-piano arrangements of Astor Piazzolla’s tangos with Argentine pianist Pablo Ziegler and collaborated with choreographer Martha Clarke in a work which sets the staged stories of Anton Chekhov to the piano works of Alexander Scriabin. He has recorded two discs of his own re-imaginings of Radiohead songs, as well as that of singer/songwriter Nick Drake, and a tribute to Elliot Smith.

In 2009 he drew from the works of Nirvana, REM, Radiohead, Pink Floyd, Tori Amos, The Smiths, Cocteau Twins, and Portishead among others in Out of My Hands. In 2011, O’Riley teamed up with cellist Matt Haimovitz on Shuffle.Play.Listen., a collaboration that plumbs the virtuosic possibilities of their instruments and blurs the boundaries between classical and pop music. O’Riley is a recipient of top prizes and awards from the Van Cliburn Competition and the Avery Fisher Career Grants. He is a graduate of the New England Conservatory in Boston.

More information about Mason Gross School Convocation 2013 is here.

For even more O’Riley, catch a taping of From the Top at Richardson Auditorium at Princeton University on May 19, 2013, at 4 p.m. The episode, which will air nationally on June 3, will feature the American Boychoir . For ticket information, visit From the Top's event page.