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Nuevo Tango Comes to Armstrong Auditorium

EDMOND—Armstrong Auditorium was filled with nuevo tango music on the evening of November 9. From the Top npr radio host and pianist Christopher O’Riley and Argentine composer and Latin Grammy winner Pablo Ziegler entertained 523 concertgoers with their “Two to Tango”performance.

The afternoon before the concert, O’Riley taught a master class. Three music students received the opportunity to play one of the auditorium’s two Steinway and Sons concert grand pianos under the guidance of a man who has won numerous prestigious awards and whose weekly radio program focuses on young musicians. Herbert W. Armstrong College sophomore Alexa Turgeon, along with Ethan and Megan, two Imperial Academy students, participated in the class, during which O’Riley told Meagan that she was playing on “one of the finest pianos in the country.”

At 6:30 that evening, the three diamond-shaped chandeliers of the auditorium lobby lit up, and the doors to the event officially opened to hundreds of visitors. Ziegler and O’Riley took to the stage and commenced the Armstrong International Cultural Foundation’s 11th all-piano performance since the auditorium opened in 2010.

The nuevo tango style of music is a vibrant musical hybrid of Latin tango, American jazz and fine art music; it was created in the 20th century by Argentine composer Astor Piazzola. Ziegler has a close personal attachment to the genre: He began playing piano for Piazzola in 1978. Piazzola chose Ziegler because of his jazz background, which brought a unique quality to the tango style. Concert manager Ryan Malone said in his Music for Life radio program that the collaboration between Piazzola and Ziegler helped shape what nuevo tango has become.

Since the early years of that collaboration, Ziegler has become one of the primary “ambassadors” for this style of music. Visitors to his performance with O’Riley at Armstrong Auditorium said that his passion and love for nuevo tango were vividly evident.

Visitors later described the evening on, calling it “fabulous,” “wonderful,” and “mesmerizing.” One wrote, “Christopher O’Riley and Pablo Ziegler seemed to be having a good time, which made the performance that much more enjoyable. This was our first exposure to Ziegler’s music, and we look forward to hearing it again.”

The 2017–2018 Armstrong International Cultural Foundation performing arts season continues tonight with violinist Ray Chen.

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