Mark O'Connor (b. August 5, 1961, Seattle, Washington)
Violinist and composer Mark O'Connor is widely recognized as one of the most gifted contemporary composers in America and surely one of the brightest talents of his generation.
The New York Times calls his "one of the most spectacular journeys in recent American music." The Los Angeles Times describes him as an artist who is "one of the most talented and imaginative...working in music -- any music -- today."
A product of America's rich aural folk tradition as well as being a Classical and Flamenco music student in his formative years, Mr. O'Connor's creative journey began at the feet of the folk fiddler and innovator who created the modern era of American fiddling in the 1940's, Benny Thomasson, and a French jazz violinist who was considered one of the greatest improvisers in the history of the violin, Stephane Grappelli. Along the way, between these marvelous musical extremes, Mark O'Connor absorbed knowledge and influence from the multitude of musical styles and genres he studied. Now, at age 47, he has melded and shaped these influences into a new American Classical music, and is perpetuating his vision of an American School of string playing. The Los Angeles Times warmly noted he has "crossed over so many boundaries, that his style is purely personal."
His first recording for the Sony Classical record label, Appalachia Waltz, was a collaboration with Yo-Yo Ma and Edgar Meyer. The works Mr. O'Connor composed for the disc, including its title track, gained worldwide recognition for him as a leading proponent of a new American musical idiom. The tremendously successful follow-up release, Appalachian Journey, received a Grammy Award in February 2001.
With more than 200 performances, his first full length orchestral score "Fiddle Concerto" has become the most-performed modern violin concerto today. Fanfare for the Volunteer, recorded with the London Philharmonic Orchestra under the baton of Steven Mercurio, was released by Sony Classical in October 1999.
In April 2000, Mr. O'Connor premiered his 4th violin concerto "The American Seasons: Seasons of an American Life," at Troy Music Hall in Troy, N.Y. The work was commissioned to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the hall's concert series. The New York Times said "... if Dvorak had spent his American leisure time in Nashville instead of Spillville, Iowa, 'New World Symphony' would have sounded like this." The American Seasons was recorded with the Metamorphosen chamber orchestra and released in 2001.
Following the work's release, a 30-city national tour with Metamorphosen earned universally spectacular reviews. Richard Dyer of the Boston Globe called the work "concise, lyrical and irresistibly rhythmic." Wayne Gay of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram said, "The American Seasons is destined to rank among the greatest masterpieces of American music...the first musical masterpiece of the 21st century." The work was nationally broadcast New Year's Day 2002 on PBS stations, paired with Vivaldi's "Four Seasons."
In August 2000, Mr. O'Connor's 3rd concerto, "Double Violin Concerto," received its premiere with Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg and the 2nd violin soloist and the Chicago Symphony, Christoph Eschenbach conducting. In November 2003, Mr. O'Connor and Ms. Salerno-Sonnenberg recorded the work with Martin Alsop conducting the Colorado Orchestra.
In 2003, Mr. O'Connor completed his 5th concerto, "Double Concerto for violin and cello" (For the Heroes) and often performs the piece with cellist Maya Beiser and Symphony Orchestra. Also in 2003, Mr. O'Connor was commissioned by the Academy of St. Martin in the Fields to compose a concerto for violin and chamber orchestra. Violin Concerto No. 6 "Old Brass" takes its inspiration from a Beaufort, South Carolina plantation designed by Frank Lloyd Wright. The recording conducted by Joel Smirnoff will be released March 10th, 2009.
Mr. O'Connor has also formed a piano trio to perform his “Poets and Prophets” composition inspired by the music of Johnny Cash. He often performs it in a collaborative concert concept with Mr. Cash's daughter, Rosanne Cash. Mr. O'Connor has recently formed other ensembles including a String Quartet concert entitled "Evening of Strings" with chamber music legends Ida Kavafian, Paul Neubauer and Matt Haimovitz, performing O'Connor's music exclusively. (The quartets are schedule for release on CDin May, 2009) Last year, Mr. O'Connor brought back to the stage his solo recital, a one-man unaccompanied violin concert which features his six caprices and three improvisations as the centerpieces of the tour de force performance.
As word of his considerable compositional talents have spread, Mark O'Connor's musical works are being embraced by a variety of performers apart from his own concert performances. Yo-Yo Ma has recorded the solo cello version of "Appalachia Waltz" and frequently performs it in recital. Renee Fleming has performed and recorded Mr. O'Connor's vocal song arrangements he composed for her. The Eroica Trio performs his “Poets and Prophets Piano Trio No. 1” regularly, a piece they commissioned from him in 2003. Sharon Isbin has recorded his duet for violin and guitar, several top classical violinists are performing his "Caprices" in recital, his flute concerto "The Fallen" has been performed by a number of flutists and is slated for recording by Carla Auld, Dance troupes, including Twyla Tharp Dance Co., the New York City Ballet, Alvin Ailey and Hubbard Street Dance Chicago, are staging and choreographing to Mr. O'Connor's expressive American music, and the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra has recently recorded his new Americana Symphony slated for release March 10th, 2009.
Mr. O'Connor regularly gives two-day residencies, giving lecture/demonstrations or teaches workshops at many schools of music including The Juilliard School of Music, Harvard, Rice University, SUNY Fredonia, University Of Texas, Curtis Institute, Berklee College of Music, Eastman School of Music, Tanglewood, and Aspen Summer Festival... Mr.O'Connor will be the Artist in Residence at UCLA for the 2008-2009 season. Mr. O'Connor is the founder and president of the internationally recognized Mark O'Connor Fiddle Camp and Strings Conference as well as the new Mark O'Connor String Camp to be held in New York City in 2009. The Mark O'Connor String Institute at UCLA will debut summer of 2009.
Mr. O'Connor resides in New York City.
Mark and Maggie O'Connor
Mark and Maggie O’Connor - American Classics identifies the cornerstones of repertoire, style and wonderful diversity of A New American School of String Playing. Mining a huge body of repertoire that has made its impact on American music, the selected tunes and arrangements by Mr. O'Connor represent stylistic importance, pedagogical value and have timeless appeal. The program offers a broad and interconnecting collection of American music through violin solos and duos, with several featuring piano accompaniment. Audiences as well as students of the violin will find themselves inspired by the songbook of America as they have never heard it before.
For booking, contact Julia Torgovitskaya at firstname.lastname@example.org or (310) 896 - 8527.
A New School of American String Playing - The American System and the "O'Connor Method." Solo books of sequenced tunes and exercises featuring technique, creativity, theory, improvisation and ear training. "America On Strings" is sequenced orchestrations designed for elementary, middle and high school level orchestras. The O'Connor Method includes musical literature that represents all of the Americas - Mexico, Canada and every region of the United States - and many musical styles - classical, folk, Latin, rock, ragtime, etc. Teacher Training takes place around the country.
Mr. O'Connor, a multi Grammy winning violinist and composer, has composed nine full length concertos that have received more performances than any other concertos composed in the last 50 years. His near iconic “Appalachia Waltz” is one of the most performed string pieces written since Barber's Adagio. He is currently artist-in-residence at the University of Miami’s Frost School of Music.
Violinist and American fiddler Maggie O'Connor performs a variety of musical styles in concert halls throughout the U.S. and beyond. Frequently performing with her husband, violinist and composer Mark O'Connor, together they have appeared as guest soloists with the Singapore Chinese Orchestra, the Santa Rosa Symphony and many other symphony orchestras performing his composition Strings and Threads Suite. Maggie is also a frequent guest performer in her husband’s ensembles ranging from Hot Swing and An Evening of American Strings to An Appalachian Christmas, a hit concert tour taking place each holiday season. The violin-playing couple is currently touring a concert program entitled American Classics and the duo violin repertoire is the subject of their new album together called "Duo" with seven companion music videos filmed specifically for the project. Maggie is working as co-director along with Mark for the O'Connor Method Camp NYC August 3 - 7, 2015, featuring the lesson book series that is rising in popularity each year.
Youtube Videos with Mark and Maggie
Personal Website: www.markoconnor.com
MARK'S PHOTO GALLERY
MARK O'CONNOR RELEASES NEW VIOLIN METHOD! CLICK HERE FOR DETAILS
Mark O'Connor: Americana Symphony, "Variations on Appalachia Waltz" - Baltimore Symphony, Martin Alsop conducting; and Concerto No. 6, "Old Brass" - Pro Arte Chamber Orchestra of Boston, Joel Smirnoff conducting.
Mark O'Connor: String Quartets No. 2 - "Bluegrass" and No. 3 - "Old-Time." Featuring Ida Kavafian, Paul Neubauer, Matt Haimovitz, and Mark O'Connor.