Mark O'Connor

Mark O'Connor

born on 5/8/1961 in Seattle, WA, United States

Mark O'Connor

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

Mark O'Connor

Mark O'Connor (born August 5, 1961 in Seattle, Washington) [1] is an American bluegrass, jazz, country and classical violinist fiddler, composer and music teacher. O'Connor's music is wide-ranging, critically acclaimed, and he has received numerous awards for both his playing and his composition. As a teenager he won national string instrument championships for his virtuoso playing of the guitar and mandolin as well as on the fiddle. His mentors include Texas old-time fiddler Benny Thomasson[2] who taught O'Connor to fiddle as a teenager, French jazz violinist Stéphane Grappelli[3] whom O'Connor toured as a teenager and guitarist Chet Atkins.[4]

Early life

At an early age Mark O'Connor was considered a child prodigy winning national titles on the fiddle, guitar and mandolin as a teenager. In 1975 at age thirteen, O'Connor won the prestigious Grand Masters Fiddle Championships[5] in Nashville against amateur and professional competitors of all ages. Later that year in 1975, after turning to age 14, he accomplished the same feat on acoustic guitar at the National Flatpick Guitar Championships in Winfield, KS.[6] At age 19, he won the Buck White International Mandolin Championship in Kerrville, TX.[7] He is a four-time grand champion at the National Oldtime Fiddlers Contest in Weiser, Idaho[8] 1979, 1980, 1981 and 1984.[9]

Musical career

He has recorded solo albums for Rounder, Warner Bros. Records, Sony, and his own CD line OMAC Records.

O'Connor has won two Grammy awards; one for his New Nashville Cats album and another for his Appalachian Journey album he did with Yo-Yo Ma and Edgar Meyer.[10] He was named Musician of the Year by the Country Music Association six years in a row (from 1991-1996).[11] His collaborative single Restless (with Vince Gill, Ricky Skaggs and Steve Wariner) won the 1991 CMA Vocal Event of the Year award.[12]

O'Connor has crossed musical genres, composing, arranging, and recording folk, classical and jazz music. His Fiddle Concerto has received over 200 performances making it one of the most performed concertos written in the last 40 years.[13] He has composed eight concertos, string quartets, string trios, choral works, solo unaccompanied works and a new Symphony (See Compositions) . He has worked and recorded with a wide variety of artists, such as Chet Atkins, James Taylor, Michelle Shocked, Alison Krauss, David Grisman, Tony Rice, Bela Fleck, Renée Fleming, Pinchas Zukerman, Stéphane Grappelli, Patty Loveless, The Dixie Dregs, John Hartford and Wynton Marsalis. Some of his more recent albums are or contain tributes to his musical mentors and inspirations, including Niccolò Paganini, Benny Thomasson, and Grappelli.

He has contributed music to the PBS Series Liberty! The American Revolution (the companion album is Liberty!).[14] He recorded his "Fanfare For The Volunteer" with the London Philharmonic in 1999 for Sony Classical,[15] and one of his most critically acclaimed orchestral pieces Americans Seasons for Sony Classical[16] 2 as well. O'Connor recorded a 2 1/2 hour double CD of his music with the mandolinist Chris Thile entitled Thirty-Year Retrospective. It celebrates his thirty years as a recording artist on his own OMAC label. He also provided the soundtrack to a 30-minute animated film on the story of Johnny Appleseed (and released the music on his 1992 album Johnny Appleseed), narrated by Garrison Keillor, He contributed four tracks to a 1993 album on the theme of The Night Before Christmas narrated by Meryl Streep that was recently reissued for Starbucks. One of his most popular compositions, Appalachia Waltz (appearing on the album of the same title), has been adopted by Yo-Yo Ma as part of his live performance repertoire, and used frequently as music for weddings including two of Vice President Al Gore's daughters. O'Connor hosts an annual fiddle camp (the Mark O'Connor Fiddle Camp) in Tennessee and an annual Strings Conference in San Diego, California. O'Connor is currently living in New York City working on new music. One of his recent efforts is his piano trio entitled Poets and Prophets which is inspired by his boyhood hero Johnny Cash. Currently O'Connor and Rosanne Cash have teamed up for concert dates premiering their collaboration in New York at Merkin Hall, January 2007. He plays on Ken Burns' The War.

On April 28, 2009, O'Connor teamed with prominent chamber musicians Kavafian, Neubauer and Haimovitz to present his second and third string quartets, amalgamating bluegrass with classical styles, at Merkin Concert Hall in New York. A recording by the same artists is to be released on O'Connor's OMAC label during May.

O'Connor Method

Official Wikipedia Page On November 16, 2009, Mark O'Connor released books 1 and 2 of his 10-book O'Connor Method - A New American School of String Playing[17] for string teachers and students of the violin designed to "guide students gradually through the development of pedagogical and musical techniques necessary to become a proficient, well-rounded musician through a carefully planned succession of pieces." Pieces cover a wide range of genres, and include: folk melodies such as "Amazing Grace," "Cielito Lindo" and "Buffalo Gals," American Classical tunes such as Copland's "Hoedown," two themes from Dvorak's New World Symphony, and O'Connor's "Appalachia Waltz."[18] The series also contains short essays about topics including famous American fiddlers such as Thomas Jefferson and Davy Crockett, the history of Gypsies and Mariachi, and various dances. Teacher training sessions based on the method take place around the country.


2 Grammy awards; 1992 & 2001.[19] 8 Grammy nominations; 1982-2004. 7 CMA awards; 1991-1996.[20] 7 National & Grand Master fiddling championships; 1975-1984.[21] 2 National Guitar championships; 1975 & 1977. World mandolin championship; 1982. Frets Magazine Readers Poll Musician of the year; 1983-1987. Irish-American Top 100; 2005.[22] Hundreds of regional, state and local awards; 1972present.


Orchestral - Full Orchestra

Americana Symphony "Variations on Appalachia Waltz" for symphony orchestra - 34 min

Triple Concerto "March of the Gypsy Fiddler" for violin, cello, piano and orchestra - 26 min

Double Concerto "For the Heroes" for violin, cello and symphony orchestra - 35 min

Concerto No. 6 "Old Brass" for violin and orchestra - 35 min

Double Violin Concerto for two violins and symphony orchestra - 32 min

Three Pieces for Orchestra for symphony orchestra:

I. Call of the Mockingbird - 20 min

II. Trail of Tears - 16 min

III. Fanfare for the Volunteer - 20 min

Johnny Appleseed Suite - 18 min

The Fiddle Concerto for violin and orchestra - 40 min

Olympic Harvest - overture for symphony orchestra - 6 min

Orchestral - String Orchestra

The Fallen for flute and string orchestra - 20 min

Harmony for violin and string orchestra - 11 min

American Seasons (Seasons of an American Life) for violin and orchestra - 35 min

Surrender The Sword for violin and string orchestra - 10 min

Song Of The Liberty Bell for violin and string orchestra - 7 min

String Quartets

  • String Quartet No. 3 "Old-Time" - 25 min (2007)
  • String Quartet No. 2 "Bluegrass" - 36 min (2005)
  • String Quartet No. 1 (with double bass) - 30 min (1990; revised in 2006 for 2 violins, viola and cello)

Piano Trio

Piano Trio No. 2 "Strange Rims" - 25 min

Piano Trio No. 1 "Poets And Prophets" - 35 min

Fiddle Sonata for Piano Trio - 20 min

Miniatures for Piano Trio - 5 min

String Trio

In The Summertime - 7 min Musicopia - 7 min Blackberry Mull - 9 min Poem - 7 min Vistas - 10 min Caprice For Three - 4 min Butterflys Day Out - 5 min Misty Moonlight Waltz - 4 min Emilys Reel - 5 min Old Country Fairy Tale - 9 min


Strings & Threads Suite for violin and guitar - 18 min When Bidden To The Wake Or Fair for violin and cello - 5 min Brave Wolfe for trumpet and violin - 5 min F.C.'s Jig - for violin and cello - 4 min


Appalachia Waltz (violin/cello) - 7 min Caprices No.'s 1 - 6 - 24 min Strings & Threads Suite for violin - 17 min Bonaparte's Retreat Variations - 7 min

Jazz Ensemble

Anniversary, M&W Rag, Stephane and Django, Fiddler Going Home, Gypsy Fantastic, Funky Swing, In The Cluster Blues, Pickles On The Elbow, Swingin On The Ville, Sweet Suzanne, In Full Swing.

Miscellaneous Instrumentals (Fiddle/Bluegrass/Newgrass/Contemporary)

A Bowl of Bula, Across the Ohio Frontier, Beserkley, Bow Tie, Captain's Jig, Cat in the Bag, Changing the Guard, Come Ride With Me, Conversation with a Friend, Cool Winds, Cotton Pickin' Blues, Court Suite, Dance of the Ol' Swamp Rat, Disco Fiddle, Rampsody, Druid Fluid, Ease with the Breeze, Fair Dancer Reel, False Dawn, Fancy Stops and Goes, Flailing, Flight Home, Floating Bridge of Dreams, Fluid Drive, Folktunes, Follow the Scout, From Panama to El Pichincha, Future Man, Get Set, Go, Granny White Special, Hear the Sun Shadows Dance, Hot Tamale, Idle Rain, Improvisations Nos. 1, 2, 3, 4, Inns of Granny White, Inside the Stillness, Into the Walls of Mandoness, Irish Maiden, Johnny's Apple Pie, Light the Fire, Macedonia, March of the Pharaohs, Markology, Mark's Ark, Mark's Waltz, Midnight Interlude, My Celebration, Nashville Shuffle Boogie, New Lifetimes, October Impressions, Off to Sea Olympic Reel, On a June Day, One Winter's Night, Pacific Expectations, Pick it Apart, Pickin Parlor Rag, Pickin' in the Wind, Pilgrim's Waltz, Point of Crossing, Queen of the Cumberland, Rampology, Remember Ireland, River Out Back, Road to Appalachia, Rose Among Thorns, Sailor's Jig, Send Rainbows, Shine On, Slopes, Soft Gyrations, Stone from Which the Arch Was Made, Swept Away by Tides, Swing 11:11, Texas Dance Hall Blues, Thai Wat Sai, Thanks and Goodbyes, The Cricket Dance, The Dark Rain, The Emperor's Komponist, The Life and Times of Johnny Appleseed, The Robotic Muso, Three Angel Brides, Through the Lives, Outside the Landscape, Traveler's Ridge, Tubular Explosions, We're Surrounded, When We Talk.


Folk Mass for choir - 40 min Let Us Move for choir - 15 min

Composing commissioning organizations

Academy of Saint Martin-In-the-Fields - Library of Congress - Lila Wallace Reader's Digest Commissioning Program - Santa Fe Music Festival - La Jolla Music Festival - Hudson River Quadricentennial Music Project - Gloriae Dei Cantores - Kathryn Gould and Montalvo - Blueridge Parkway 75th Anniversary Appalachian State University - Bridgehampton Chamber Music Associates - Musicians for Harmony (NY) - Troy Savings Bank Hall 2000 Celebration - Tennessee Bicentennial Committee - Cabrillo Music Festival - Santa Fe Symphony Orchestra - Grand Rapids Symphony Orchestra - San Diego Symphony Orchestra - East Texas Symphony Orchestra - Nashville Symphony Orchestra - Colorado Symphony Orchestra - Dubuque Symphony Orchestra - Fargo Moorhead Symphony Orchestra - Fox Valley - Symphony Orchestra - Greater Anderson Musical Arts Consortium - Tennessee Dance Theater - Imperial Symphony Orchestra - Garrett Lakes Arts Festival - Musicopia/Strings in the Schools (Philadelphia)

Education, Training and Research

Violin Apprenticed under jazz violinist Stephane Grappelli; 1979-1980. Apprenticed under folk fiddler Benny Thomasson; 1974-1977. Apprenticed under Barbara Lamb, John Burke; 1973-1974.

Independent Research and Training - Various musical styles and composition including Classical, Flamenco, Bluegrass, Jazz, Western Swing, Appalachian, Cajun, Country, Texas fiddling, Gospel/Spiritual, Blues, Rock, Fusion; 1974present.

Guitar Edmonds Community College, WA, Calvin Christ, Normando Brenez, Dudley Hill; 1966-1975.

Vocal Instruction and Theory Edmonds Community College, Frank DeMiero; 1976-1977.

Recording Engineering Training Seattle, WA - certificate of completion; 1981.

Keyboard, Theory, Bass and Percussion private teachers, secondary school, WA; 1978-79.

Ensembles - Member and Apprenticed under: Composer and Bandleader David Grisman of the David Grisman Quintet; 1979-1981. Composer and Bandleader Steve Morse of The Dregs; 1981-1982.

Post-Doctoral Training Honorary Doctorate, Sage Colleges, NY, Public Service Degree; 2002.

In 2008/2009 O'Connor was Artist-in-Residence at UCLA and in 2009/2010 he was Artist-in-Residence at the University of Miami.[23]



Year Album Peak chart positions Label
US Classical Crossover US Classical US Jazz US Country US Heat US Bluegrass US Indie
1974 National Junior Fiddling Champion Rounder
1975 Pickin' in the Wind
1978 Markology
1979 On the Rampage
Soppin' the Gravy
1982 False Dawn
1982 Industry Standard (with Dixie Dregs) Arista
1985 Meanings Of Warner
1986 Stone from Which the Arch Was Made
1988 Elysian Forest
1989 The Championship Years CMF
On the Mark Warner
1990 Retrospective Rounder
1991 The New Nashville Cats 44 14 Warner
1992 Johnny Appleseed Rabbit Ears
1993 Heroes 46 14 Warner
The Night Before Christmas Rabbit Ears
1994 The Fiddle Concerto 6 Warner
1996 Appalachia Waltz (with Yo-Yo Ma and Edgar Meyer) Sony
1997 Liberty! 8
1998 Midnight on the Water 5
1999 Fanfare for the Volunteer
2000 Appalachian Journey (with Yo-Yo Ma and Edgar Meyer)
2001 The American Seasons
Hot Swing! Omac
2003 Thirty-Year Retrospective
Hot Swing Trio: In Full Swing 4 Sony
2004 Crossing Bridges 19 Omac
2005 Hot Swing Trio: Live in New York
Double Violin Concerto
2006 Folk Mass
2007 The Essential Mark O'Connor Sony
2008 Americana Symphony Omac
2009 String Quartets No. 2 & 3
2010 Jam Session
2011 An Appalachian Christmas 9 5 3 39


Year Song Chart positions Album
US Country CAN Country
1991 "Restless"
(w/ Vince Gill, Steve Wariner and Ricky Skaggs)
25 19 The New Nashville Cats
1992 "Now It Belongs to You" (w/ Steve Wariner) 71 62
1994 "The Devil Comes Back to Georgia"
(w/ Charlie Daniels, Travis Tritt, Marty Stuart and Johnny Cash)
54 Heroes

Music videos

Year Video Director
1990 "Bowtie"[24] Gustavo Garzon
1991 "Restless" (with Steve Wariner, Ricky Skaggs and Vince Gill)
"Now It Belongs to You" (with Steve Wariner) Gustavo Garzon
1993 "The Devil Comes Back to Georgia" (with Charlie Daniels, Johnny Cash, Travis Tritt and Marty Stuart)
1997 "Johnny Has Gone for a Soldier" (with James Taylor)

See also

American fiddle


  1. Mark O'Connor Biography. CMT.
  2. Mark O'Connor: On Learning, Playing, and Teaching Strings, American-style by Peter Anick. Fiddle Magazine, Aug 21, 2010.
  3. Mark O'Connor Hot Swing on Mountain Stage. NPR.
  4. Chet Atkins and Mark O'Connor by Tod Redmond. Mister Guitar.
  5. Grand Master Fiddler Championship Past Winners. Grand Master Fiddler.
  6. National Guitar Flat Pick Champion Archive. Walnut Valley Festival.
  7. Luke Thompson uses fine maple and spruce to craft fine mandolins for professional bluegrass pickers By James Ronald Skains. The Piney Woods.
  8. National Oldtime Fiddlers Contest.
  9. National Oldtime Fiddlers Contest Past Winners. Fiddle Contest.
  10. Past Winners: Grammys. Grammy.
  11. CMA Musician of the Year Past Winners. Country Music.
  12. Past Winners: CMA Awards. CMA.
  13. ShoreFire Media Official Bio for Mark O'Connor. ShoreFire Media.
  14. LIBERTY! The American Revolution, Series: The Music of Liberty. PBS.
  15. Fanfare for the Volunteer [sound recording]. Chicago Public Library.
  16. American Seasons: Review.
  17. O'Connor Violin Method. Mark O'Connor Musik International.
  18. You must specify title = and url = when using {{cite web}}.. Mark O'Connor Musik International.
  19. Past Winners: Grammys. Grammy.
  20. CMA Musician of the Year Past Winners. Country Music.
  21. Past Winners Grand Master Fiddling. Grand Master Fiddling.
  22. Mark O'Connor to headline St. Patrick's weekend concert fare. Spokante Symphony.
  23. Artist in Residence Profiles. University of Miami.
  24. CMT : Videos : Mark O'Connor : Bowtie. Country Music Television. Retrieved on September 29, 2011.

External links

  • Official personal site
  • Official Sony Classical site
  • Mark O'Connor at the Internet Movie Database
  • [Mark O'Connor at All Music Guide Mark O'Connor] - on Allmusic
  • Mark O'Connor at MySpace
This page was last modified 22.12.2011 17:50:02

This article uses material from the article Mark O'Connor from the free encyclopedia Wikipedia and it is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License.