In the second half of the 20th century, composer and performer Astor Piazzolla revolutionized the tango. With his background in traditional tango ensembles and his training in composition with the legendary teacher Nadia Boulanger, Piazzolla introduced contemporary harmonies into the tango, expanded its scope and used it as the basis for concert music, including concertos and an opera.
Since Piazzolla’s death in 1992, the most prominent exponent of his “nuevo tango” style has been Pablo Ziegler, pianist in Piazzolla’s ensemble for its last decade. Ziegler has composed his own music in that style, made many arrangements of Piazzolla’s music and performed with a tremendous variety of other musicians, including Yo-Yo Ma, Bobby McFerrin, Béla Fleck, Joshua Bell, James Galway and Michael Feinstein. His two-piano partner for a CD of Piazzolla arrangements was the great Emanuel Ax.
Ziegler’s latest partner is another very prominent pianist. Christopher O’Riley was already well-known in the classical world before he became the host of the long-running NPR program From the Top, featuring young classical musicians. His interest in popular music goes back to his childhood: He was already playing with a rock band when he was in sixth grade.
Ziegler and O’Riley are currently touring as Two to Tango. They bring their performance to the Doctorow Center for the Arts in Hunter on Sunday, August 31 at 8 p.m., with a pre-concert talk at 7 o’clock.
Two to Tango, Sunday, August 31, 8 p.m. concert with 7 p.m. talk, $25/$20 advance, $30/$25 door, $7 students, Doctorow Center for the Arts, 7971 Main Street, Hunter; (518) 263-2063, www.catskillmtn.org.