Inspiration behind the inaugural music

Photo courtesy of Kirk O’Riordan

Lafayette Assistant Professor of Music and Director of Bands Kirk O’Riordan has the responsibility of composing the soundtrack to today’s Presidential Inauguration.

Only a select few were chosen to represent Lafayette during the inauguration. O’Riordan, a composer, conductor, saxophonist, and professor, will be sharing select original pieces performed by the Lafayette College Concert Band and accompanied by the Lafayette College Choirs.

“These kinds of events are rare in academia, and they are meaningful to the College community as well as to the new president, it will be a great experience for our students to perform for a very large audience,” O’Riordan said. “Personally, I feel very fortunate to have the opportunity to contribute my original music to the ceremony.”

O’Riordan’s Inaugural Fanfare, a piece composed with horns, trumpets, trombones, percussionists and a tuba, will be performed along with Processional and Recessional pieces. Also in the lineup are two accompaniments – one of America the Beautiful and another of Aaron Copland’s The Promise of Living (conducted by Dr. Jennifer Kelly).

Student performers look forward to playing alongside O’Riordan at the inauguration.

“When I first came to Lafayette, if someone were to tell me that I would performing in a presidential inauguration for the first female president, I would probably have never believed them,” Lafayette Jazz Ensemble Assistant Samuel Freiheiter ’15 said.

O’Riordan’s personal music career has launched into multiple projects. In addition to teaching music classes, directing Concert Band and the Lafayette College Contemporary Music Ensemble, his first full-length CD Strange Flowers will be released by Revllo Records in November. Currently, he is working on four major pieces – a set of 26 preludes for solo piano, a five movement piece for wind ensemble that the Concert Band will premiere next year, a Bassoon Concerto, and a one-act opera in collaboration with English Professor Lee Upton.

“I have to continually move on from one project to the next, and I have found that it is probably best not to dwell too much on either the successes or failures. It is too easy to believe you are better than you are in good times and worse than you are in bad times,” O’Riordan said of his musical endeavors.

His original scores have been performed across the world in countries like China, Italy, and Costa Rica.

“It is an incredibly gratifying experience…that they chose to spend that effort on my music and bring it to their audiences is a powerful expression of belief in my music,” O’Riordan said. “Without performers, my music would exist only as a PDF file on my hard drive. Performers work really hard to bring my, or anyone’s music to life.”

Hearing others perform his music validates O’Riordan’s passion for his career.

“There are times when I listen to a great performance of something I wrote and can’t believe that that actually came out of my head. I am also deeply moved when I see people in the audience who are moved by my music. That is why I pursued art.”

O’Riordan has influenced students as a mentor and musical inspiration.

“Without him, I would never have become a Music minor. Dr. O’Riordan has taught me to appreciate many different forms of music,” Freiheiter said.

“Dr. O’Riordan is inspiring on so many levels. He has helped me grow as a musician even in the short time I’ve known him. The challenging music he picks motivates the ensemble to work hard together to accomplish the goal of being able to perform it successfully,” Kimberly Goddard ‘16 said.

President Byerly’s inauguration is just one of O’Riordan’s many goals as a musician. “Professionally, I’d love to have a commission from a major orchestra, like Cleveland or the [New York Philharmonic],” said O’Riordan.

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