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Mark O'Connor (born August 5, 1961 in Seattlemarker, Washingtonmarker) is an American bluegrass, country and classical 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 who taught O'Connor to fiddle as a teenager, French jazz violinist Stéphane Grappelli with whom O'Connor toured as a teenager and guitarist Chet Atkins.

At an early age Mark O'Connor was considered a child prodigy, his first instrument being the guitar. "I was a guitar player first, beginning around age 6." said O'Connor in a recent interview. "At age 11 I got really interested in bluegrass and country guitar, and I was able to really draw inspiration from all the great guitar players that were recording in that era; of course, Chet Atkins, and Jerry Reed, and Doc Watson and some of the bluegrass guitar players like Tony Rice, and Norman Blake."

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. He was named Musician of the Year by the Country Music Association six years in a row (from 1991-1996). His collaborative single Restless (with Vince Gill, Ricky Skaggs and Steve Wariner) won the 1991 CMA Vocal Event of the Year award.

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 50 years. He has composed six violin concertos, string quartets, string trios, choral works, solo unaccompanied works and a new Symphony. 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, Stéphane Grappelli, Patty Loveless, The Dixie Dregs 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!). He recorded his "Fanfare For The Volunteer" with the London Philharmonic for Sony Classical, and one of his most critically acclaimed orchestral pieces Americans Seasons for Sony Classical 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, Californiamarker. 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.



Year Album Chart Positions Label
US Classical Crossover US Classical US Jazz US Country US Heat
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


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

Selected Compositions

  • Appalachia Waltz
  • F.C.'s Jig
  • The Fiddle Concerto
  • Misty Moonlight Waltz
  • Six Caprices for Solo Violin
  • Strings and Threads Suite
  • Vistas
  • Call Of the Mockingbird
  • Butterfly's Day Out
  • Song Of The Liberty Bell
  • Surrender the Sword
  • American Seasons (Seasons of an American life)
  • Fiddler Going Home
  • Gypsy Fantastic

See also


External links

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