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Classical 101

John O'Conor's Irish Eyes Seem To Always Be Smilin'

FIVE AUDIO PIECES; MIX OF MUSIC AND INTERVIEWS Pianist John O'Conor has a ready laugh and a lilt in his voice that has nothing to do with his Irish accent.  He loves what he does. A recently re-released recording combines his love of music, playing the piano, and the melodies he grew up hearing in his native Ireland. Melodies such as The Banks of My Own Lovely Lee, The Last Rose of Summer, and Danny Boy, are near and dear to John O'Conor. In these arrangements, which he recorded with the Irish Chamber Orchestra, these classic Irish tunes take on a sophisticated air, while retaining their original charm. [audio:john-oconor-new-recording1.mp3] Mr. O'Conor invested several years of his life into recording the piano sonatas of Beethoven. His love of Beethoven came through special studies with renowned German pianist Wilhelm Kempff at his villa in Positano, Italy. His studies with Kempff would eventually lead to the student becoming the teacher as O'Conor now conducts masterclasses in that same villa. [audio:john-oconor-kempff.mp3] In a recent Columbus recital (thanks to Chamber Music Columbus), the audience was treated to selections by pianist John Field, an Irish-born composer about whom many of us know little.  O'Conor says Field is someone we owe a great deal when it comes to the development of the piano repertoire as we know it today. [audio:john-oconor-john-field.mp3] While John O'Conor still makes his home in Ireland, he finds himself spending more and more time in the mountains of  Virginia.  University of Virginia?  Virginia Tech?  No...at what is now Shenandoah University in the sleepy little town of Winchester. [audio:john-oconor-shenandoah.mp3] What advice does he offer for that next generation? [audio:john-oconor-young-pianists.mp3] I leave you with a look at Wilhelm Kempff's villa in Positano, Italy. -- Boyce Lancaster [youtube b_n3bU_cIN4]