Acclaimed as a brilliant and soulful fiddler and composer—combining bluegrass, folk, jazz, and classical—violinist Mark O’Connor played LIVE on WRTI 90.1 on May 18, 2018, accompanied by pianist Debra Lew Harder and hosted by WRTI’s Susan Lewis.
The live-to-air broadcast looked ahead to Mark's performance with the Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia in a program that features his Concerto No. 6, "Old Brass." That concert, “Bluegrass, Bernstein and the Blues," will be held at the Kimmel Center's Perelman Theater on May 20th at 2:30 pm and May 21st at 7:30 pm.
A former child prodigy and national champion on the fiddle, guitar, and mandolin, Mark has won numerous Grammy and CMA awards, studied with folk fiddler Benny Thomasson and French jazz violinist Stephane Grappelli, appeared on hundreds of commercial country albums, collaborated with Johnny Cash, Wynton Marsalis, Dolly Parton, and Yo-Yo Ma, and performed everything from original violin concertos to swing and jazz.
Mark has been hailed by critics, fellow artists and audiences as "a national treasure" (Wynton Marsalis), "brilliantly original" (Seattle Times), and "...one of the most talented and imaginative artists working in music - any music - today" (Los Angeles Times). More about Mark from his website.
He’s also a passionate advocate for American string music and education, and has developed the O’Connor Method for string teachers and students. It encompasses the range of musical styles—classical, folk, Latin, jazz, rock and ragtime, that represents all of the Americas, Mexico, Canada, and every region of the United States.
His WRTI performance features three selections he uses in O’Connor Method:
Rain Clouds, by Mark O’Connor
Deep River, Traditional [Arranged by Mark O’Connor]
Jessie Polka (Jesusita en Chihuahua), by Quirino Mendoza y Cortez [Arranged by Mark O’Connor]
Encore duets with fiddler Maggie O'Connor:
F.C.'s Jig, by Mark O'Connor
St. Louis Blues, by W.C. Handy [Arranged by Mark O'Connor]
The Mark O’Connor Band, which blends country, pop and Americana chamber music sensibilities, premiered in 2015. In 2017, the group won the Grammy Award for Best Bluegrass Album for their debut recording, Coming Home. This year, they are opening for Zac Brown’s summer tour.
In addition to Mark, the band features his son Forrest, (Harvard graduate and former Tennessee State Mandolin Champion), daughter-in-law Kate (frequent performer on the CMA Awards and CMA Country Christmas shows), and wife Maggie (graduate of the Peabody Institute of the Johns Hopkins University).
The four of them play together as though they have been sharing the stage for many years – and in some ways, they have. The band is rounded out by Joe Smart and Geoff Saunders (bassist/banjoist extraordinaire and recent graduate of the University of Miami’s DMA program).