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Irish musician comes to Columbus

World-renowned Irish pianist John O’Conor will be performing at the Southern Theatre March 6. The concert will be presented by Chamber Music Columbus.

O’Conor will use the performance to focus on his interpretations of classical pieces from the 19th century. His selection of works includes three nocturnes by John Field, “Variations on a Theme of Rode” and “La Ricordanza” by Carl Czerny, “Six Bagatelles” by Ludwig Van Beethoven and “Sonata in C minor” by Franz Schubert.

The recital gives O’Conor a chance to display the lesser-known works by some of the greatest composers of the classical era.

“I love playing these pieces,” O’Conor said. “The ‘John Field Nocturnes’ are not played nearly enough as they should be. They are beautiful pieces of work that transformed piano music. The Beethoven ‘Bagatelles’ are also great pieces that very few people get to hear.”

O’Conor is currently the director of the Royal Irish Academy of Music. He is widely recognized as perhaps the world’s greatest interpreter of Beethoven’s piano music, receiving critical acclaim for his recordings of Beethoven’s entire collection.

O’Conor has received accolades from all over the world, including honors from the governments of France, Austria, Italy and Poland. He is co-founder of the Dublin International Piano Competition and serves as a judge for several other competitions throughout the world.

As a young man, O’Conor was planning to live modestly as a music teacher in Ireland, but saw his career aspirations drastically change in 1973 when, at the age of 26, he won the International Beethoven Piano Competition in Vienna, Austria.

“It changed me,” recalls O’Conor. “It gave me motivation to work harder. Nobody from Ireland had ever won [the International Beethoven Piano Competition] before, and winning it gave me the desire to use my talent for something greater.”

Under the tutelage of German composer William Kempff, O’Conor mastered Beethoven and other classical composers, establishing his reputation as one of the world’s foremost authorities on classical piano. Throughout his career he has performed with several major orchestras, including the London Symphony, the National Symphony of Ireland and the Royal Philharmonic.

O’Conor has made more than 20 recordings, featuring works as diverse as Mozart’s and John Field’s. His most recent recording, “Irish Classics,” was released Feb. 9.

Fulfilling his lifelong passion for teaching music, O’Conor gives lectures and teaches classes throughout the world, including at the Paris Conservatoire, the Juilliard School of Music and the National University of Arts in Korea.

“I’ve always wanted to teach,” O’Conor said. “I had a wonderful teacher in Kempff, who passed his knowledge on to me, and I think it’s important for each generation to pass something on to the next generation.”

The performance will begin at 8 p.m. Tickets can be purchased through the CAPA ticket office or Ticketmaster.

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