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“I think he’s been such a great spokesperson for the arts… and really for music in general… I think he’s really been someone who’s been able to help classical music progress past the traditional venues and audiences that one might normally expect,” says Wheeling Symphony conductor, André Raphel, about pianist and radio personality Christopher O’Riley.
The host of NPR’s From the Top will be performing Sergei Rachmaninov’s Second Piano Concerto with the Wheeling Symphony on Friday, March 10th at 7:30 PM at the Capitol Theatre in Wheeling. Maestro Raphel is very complimentary of O’Riley’s abilities as a radio host of a show that features young performers. “He’s really great about engaging the kids, sometimes he plays alongside them. He’s really great about making them feel comfortable… I think it lets kids be kids, but at the same time it focuses on some of the great talent that really is out there,” says Raphel. He also lauded O’Riley’s skills as a pianist: “Knowing Christopher as I do, I’m sure he has great understanding and great feeling for [Rachmaninov’s Second Piano Concerto].”
Raphel also plans on performing two works of French impressionist Maurice Ravel–La Valse and Bolero. Raphel says that Ravel, in La Valse, is poking of the traditional Viennese Waltz as it begins mysteriously and ends almost maniacally. This dance influence of the Viennese Waltz helped Raphel come up with the program title “Inspired by Dance” as well as the Bolero, which he claims has it’s basis in Spanish dance. To begin the program, Raphel programmed a lesser-known work of Igor Stravinsky called Scherzo à la Russe, which looks to be a short and fun piece.