World-renowned Pianist John O’Connor Performs at Bucknell

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Famed Irish musician John O’Connor played an awe-inspiring performance at Bucknell’s very own Rooke Recital Hall, leaving the audience mesmerized.  Nestled away in the brightly lit auditorium of Rooke Recital Hall, lie a scattered crowd of Bucknell students and avid music patrons from neighboring areas.  Standing stark and alone in the center of the stage awaits a glossy black grand piano. The room eagerly anticipates the arrival of world renowned pianist John O’Connor.

O’Connor first gained the public’s attention with his 1986 release of the complete Beethoven Sonata and has been touring the globe with concerts and instructing renowned master-classes ever since.  And on Wednesday, February 27, O’Connor graced the Bucknell campus with his performance.

url-1Stepping on to the stage more casually than expected, O’Connor exuded confidence, skill and knowledge. His effortless playing was nothing short of mesmerizing as the audience carefully watched as his fingers seem to become a blur flowing up and down the scales.  It was easy to tell that O’Connor was in charge of his piano; his quick, rapid pace producing a crisp clear sound, something determined and yet still so delicate.

Opening with Beethoven’s 6 Bagatelles Op. 126, O’Connor seems to entertain a conversation with his piano, taking brief pauses and thus giving the audience a chance to absorb the movement while dabbing the sweat from his determined brow.  He opens the next movement in the piece with a beautifully played few seconds, then (as rumor has it) stops due to a cough from the audience, turns with a slight smirk and begins again.  With a sharp click of his heels under the bench, he indicates to the audience the end of the piece and exits the stage satisfied with his work.

Moving on to another one of Beethoven’s pieces, Sonata No. 8 in C minor “Pathetique” Op. 13, he opens with an emotional first strike, then a second, third, and fourth with delicate keys played in between.  Frantic yet controlled, the buzzing of the piano seems to indicate that it cannot keep up with the master. Robust, alive, energetic, and teetering at the edge of his bench, he becomes so engrossed in the music it is almost as though he’s going to play right off his chair.  The metric click of the pedals keeps the rhythm as he plays by heart... and with heart.

After a brief intermission O’Connor begins Schubert’s Sonata in C minor D958.  For the first time during the performance, he begins to sway along with his playing, a switch from his once focused look.  Traversing in and out of gentle keys to sudden strikes, the piece maintains an emotional frenzy.  Once more, he snaps together takes a bow and leaves the stage.

Appeasing a still cheering audience, he introduces a classic Irish Nocturne as his encore and plays the last passionate piece.  Shorter than the rest but still evoking plenty of admiration from the audience.  A modest yet proud musician, a true pleasure to see perform, and with a standing ovation well deserved, John O’Connor displayed a truly emotional, passionate and profound concert leaving many mesmerized and in awe.