Classic new age piano man helps open door to Dearborn Symphony season


Photo courtesy of the Dearborn Symphony Orchestra
Called the “rock star of classical music,” world renowned pianist Christopher O’Riley performed Tchaikovsky’s classic “Piano Concerto No. 1 in B flat minor” with the Dearborn Symphony at its season opening concert Friday.

PhyllisDEARBORN — Dearborn Symphony featured guest artist Christopher O’Riley isn’t just opening musical doors. He is building them with strong hands that hold dear the truth of his vision.

From his pioneering transcription of Radiohead to his extraordinary interpretations of the Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky’s classic “Piano Concerto No. 1 in B flat minor” Friday night at the Ford Community & Performing Arts Center, O’Riley together with conductor Kypros Markou began a bold musical journey.

In that spirit, the evening’s season-opening concert lived up to the 52nd season’s title, “Experience Live Music!” and was an example of more than just O’ Riley’s innovative signature works but also a showcase for Markou’s bold and creative program orchestration.

The music selections were powerful, together possessing a full range of articulation — from whimsical to tender to serious and innovative — making the night’s experience of live music vibrant and memorable.

It is important to recognize that Markou’s passion for music has driven more than just program design as the Dearborn Symphony has become a serious orchestra.  Well executed expressions of full and rich tones rivaling the best symphonic sounds this city has to offer enveloped the house. Notable solos included Ashley Dyer, concertmaster violin; Yawen Hsu, principle cello; Shantanique Moore, acting principal flute; and Kip Franklin, acting principal clarinet.

The evening’s performance began with a patriotic and well executed rendition of the “Star-Spangled Banner,” followed by Jacques Offenbach’s overture to “Orpheus in the Underworld.” Despite its humble beginning, this remains one of Offenbach’s most popular works with several individual tunes becoming famous in their own right such as the “Can-can.”

The next piece, Franz Schubert’s “Symphony No. 2 in B flat,” gave the orchestra a real opportunity to shine from the traditional to the unexpected. It was flawless.

The Symphony together with O’Riley closed the show with Tchaikovsky’s “Piano Concerto.” For the followup encore, O’Riley played his arrangement of Radiohead’s “Airbag.” Both were stunning examples of innovative execution and masterful delivery.

The Dearborn Symphony continues the experience of live music at 8 p.m. Nov. 8 featuring violist Yi Zhou. The concert, featuring lively, Hungarian music from Berlioz, Bartok, Kodaly and Liszt, promises to deliver more of the live music experience.

Ticket prices range from to $10 to $30. For more information call 313-565-2424 or go to