A product of America's rich aural folk tradition as well as classical music, Mark O'Connor's creative journey began at the feet of a pair of musical giants. The first was the folk fiddler and innovator who created the modern era of American fiddling, Benny Thomasson; the second, French jazz violinist, 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 49, he has melded and shaped these influences into a new American Classical music, and a vision of an entirely American school of string playing. As The Los Angeles Times recently noted, he has crossed over so many boundaries, that his style is purely personal.
RECORDINGS (over two-million CDs sold as a solo recording artist)
O'Connor's 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 him worldwide recognition 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 composed in the last 40 years. It was recorded for the Warner Bros label in 1995. Mr. O'Connor's 2nd concerto Fanfare for the Volunteer was recorded with the London Philharmonic Orchestra under the baton of Steven Mercurio, released by Sony Classical in October 1999. The Newark Star Ledger notes: As a composer, he understands the power of a thematic transfiguration and development throughout a 40-minute work.