“From the Top” is arguably the most popular classical music program in the US, reaching more than 700,000 loyal listeners on over 200 stations each week since 2000. And the wonderful thing about it is it is all about hope for the future of classical music. Often the oldest figure onstage of this long-running program (since 1995) for kids and by kids is its host of long-standing (since 1997), acclaimed pianist CHRISTOPHER )’RILEY, having fun while making music and bantering with kids decades younger than he is.
O’Riley’s passion for GOOD music surfaces to the top of his mild-mannered, soft-spoken, almost Zen-serene exterior when he’s hosting “From the Top.” Perhaps it’s something he can’t help–if he were a kid today, he may very well be one of these second-through-twelfth=graders, ages 8 to 18, whose love for music he now nurtures. Wasn’t he at one time, just like his protege Caroline Goulding also an Avery Fisher Career Grantee?
Producing a fun show like “From the Top” requires involvement that is more than surface-deep. Scouring the 50 states for the brightest young musical talents entails classroom visits conducted in conjunction with the show’s national tours and arts leadership workshops for the chosen young performers who are expected to return to their respective communities as advocates for the arts and peer role models, among the many other complexities that go into the production of a highly successful educational radio and, since 2007, TV program. It takes a lot of hard work to put up a show whose message to kids is NOT classical music can be fun, it IS fun! And as Chris O’Riley would very likely tell us, and the video clips below show, all the hard work is worth it!
- © Gloria Cajipe / FanFaire