Classix Two

Pioneer Center for the Performing Arts
Christopher O’Riley, piano

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

BRAHMS | Piano Concerto No. 1 in D minor, op. 15
ROPER | My Name is Mitka
SIBELIUS | Symphony No. 2 in D major, op. 43

“Music begins where the possibilities of language end.” Jean Sibelius


  • Brahms wrote his Piano Concerto No. 1 when he was just 25 years old. While not well received during his lifetime, it is now recognized as one of the greatest compositions for piano and orchestra.
  • In a letter to Jussi Jalas on New Year’s Eve Day 1943, Sibelius wrote, “My second symphony is a confession of the soul.”
  • Guest artist, Christopher O’Riley, recently appeared at the Pioneer Center on September, 10th 2017 to host a live recording of NPR’s From the Top presented by the Reno Phil and KUNR. The program featured local Reno violinist, Oliver Leitner.

About My Name is Mitka by composer Jordan Roper

“Every single Holocaust survivor story is special and harrowing in its own way, but what makes Mitka’s story particularly miraculous is that he is the only known survivor from the medical experimentation camp in Pfaffenwald, Germany. What adds horror to the miracle of his survival, however, is that he escaped the medical experimentations only to be captured by Gustav Dorr, one of Hitler’s men tasked with carrying out many of the extermination orders. Mitka became Gustav’s personal slave on the Dorr farm for years during and after the war, and was forced to endure extremely harsh conditions. While so many were freed from a war that Mitka didn’t even know was happening, he was still in nightmarish captivity. Once freed from the Dorr family by American soldiers, Mitka was placed in a school for surviving youth. This school essentially taught them how to be proper human beings, as they had spent much of their lives as slave laborers and had become accustomed to the inhumanity and unspeakable atrocities of the Nazis. Once out of the school he was able to move to America where his circumstances slowly improved and he was able to find happiness. He eventually married his wife Adrienne and had four kids. They now have multiple grandchildren and live happily in Sparks, Nevada.

“After hearing Mitka’s story, I couldn’t help but begin composing. I’ve never put the kind of work and dedication into any other piece that My Name Is Mitka received. I feel that the piece effectively expresses the traditional Jewish musical style while having the main melody convey the sadness and harrowing life of Mitka’s youth while still containing hope and happiness with his survival. I’m thrilled to have this be performed with Mitka as the featured member of the audience and am humbled at the opportunity of being present myself.”