Mark O'Connor

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Biography

Born: August 5, 1961; Seattle, WA  
Mark O'Connor is an astonishingly versatile American violinist and composer who has had exceptional success in country and bluegrass music, jazz, classical, and crossover projects.

He began to win country fiddling competitions when he was a teenager and already intended to pursue a career in this music. He closely studied the playing of such popular violinists as the European jazz violinist Stephane Grappelli and the Texas fiddler Benny
Read more Thomasson. By the time he was 21, he had already played as a sideman with Grappelli, including a performance at Carnegie Hall.

He moved to Nashville, Tennessee, in 1983, determined to make a living as a musician. But the fiddle, once the predominant instrumental sound of country music, had faded to a mainly supporting role to the plucked strings and drums of modern country. Although he did play mandolin, he took two years to be widely noticed. This came about because the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band engaged him to play on a single, "High Horse," that became a hit.

O'Connor immediately became in demand as a session artist. During the rest of the decade he participated in over 450 albums, working with leading artists such as Emmylou Harris, Linda Ronstadt, Dolly Parton, Clint Black, Jimmy Buffett, and Randy Travis. He was a member of groups called Strength in Numbers, The Dixie Dregs, and The Dregs, and began to make his own albums. Around 1990, he gave up session work as a regular occupation to concentrate on his own playing and composition.

He wrote much of his own music and studied composition. The music he wrote became increasingly sophisticated and tended to use more elements from music other than country, bluegrass, and folk, and to take on classical formal and harmonic practices. His first album on a classical music label, Sony Classical, was with the famous classical cellist Yo-Yo Ma and a versatile but jazz-oriented bassist, Edgar Meyer. The CD, Appalachia Waltz, featuring compositions by O'Connor, was a large crossover hit that impressed classical critics with its craft, attractiveness, and originality.

The 1996 Atlanta Olympic Organizing Committee invited him to write a work for its ceremonies, Olympic Reel. And also in 1993, he wrote a full-scale violin concerto using traditional American fiddling technique, calling it Fiddle Concerto for Violin and Orchestra. The work was widely praised, and in the five years after its composition was performed over 150 times, making it the most performed of all modern violin concertos during that period. He was asked to contribute music to the six-part PBS documentary series The American Revolution. His music for the series, arranged into a suite called Liberty! was released on Sony Classical and was another great success. It included as guest artists Ma and jazz/classical trumpeter Wynton Marsalis. It features his own compositions and arrangement of traditional American music.

The New York Times has described his career as "one of the most spectacular journeys in recent American Music" and the Los Angeles Times has noticed that he has crossed over so many genre lines that he can only be classified by his personal style.

He has written a Fiddle Concerto No. 2 ("Fanfare for the Volunteer") and a concerto for two violins and orchestra, which he premiered in September, 2000, at Carnegie Hall, playing with Nadia Salerno-Sonnenberg. He has also written works that do not feature a solo violin part, including an orchestral piece called The American Seasons, a string quartet, and several shorter chamber pieces.

In 2000, he released Appalachian Journey, another collaboration with Ma and Meyer, this time also with vocalists Alison Krauss and James Taylor. Read less
Browse 1-25 of 31 Available Recordings
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  • 1.
    Moc4: Mark O'connor Plays The Classics
    Label: Omac   Catalog: 20 Release Date: 06/10/2014   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Hans-Georg Nägeli,  Mark O'Connor,  Johnnie Lee Wills,  Anonymous  ... 
    Performer:  Mark O'Connor,  Tessa Lark,  Angella Ahn,  Sara Caswell  ... 
    CD: $11.99
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  • 2.
    Blanc / Angele Dubeau, La Pieta
    Label: Analekta   Catalog: 28737 Release Date: 03/18/2014   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Garry Schyman,  Osvaldo Golijov,  Adrian Munsey,  Marjan Mozetich  ... 
    Performer:  Angèle Dubeau
    Conductor:  Angèle Dubeau
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  La Pieta
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    CD: $18.49
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  • 3.
    The Improvised Violin Concerto [includes Dvd]
    Label: Omac   Catalog: 19 Release Date: 06/11/2013   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Mark O'Connor
    Performer:  Mark O'Connor,  Ahn Trio
    Conductor:  Jeffrey Grogan,  Federico Cortese
    CD: $12.99
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  • 4.
    Liberty! / O'Conner, Ma, Marsalis, Taylor, Schermerhorn, Nashville Symphony Orchestra
    Label: Sony   Catalog: 756126 Release Date: 01/08/2013   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Mark O'Connor,  William Shield,  Andrew Law,  Richard Einhorn
    Performer:  Yo-Yo Ma,  Mark O'Connor,  John Jarvis,  John Mock  ... 
    Conductor:  Kenneth Schermerhorn
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Studio Orchestra
    CD: $8.99
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  • 5.
    American Classics / Mark O'connor
    Label: Omac   Catalog: 27 Release Date: 02/14/2012   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  J. Bodewalt Lampe,  Juventino Rosas,  Traditional,  Hoagy Carmichael  ... 
    Performer:  Mark O'Connor,  Rieko Aizawa
    CD: $9.99
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  • 6.
    Resounding - Four World Premieres / Russell, Berman, Ahn Trio, ProMusica Chamber Orchestra
    Label: Summit Records   Catalog: 576 Release Date: 10/11/2011   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Christopher Theofanidis,  Yenn Chwen Er,  Mark O'Connor,  Roberto Sierra
    Performer:  Donald Berman
    Conductor:  Tim Russell
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Ahn Trio
    Recommendation
    On sale! $17.98
    CD: $15.99
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  • 7.
    An Appalachian Christmas / Mark O'connor, Renee Fleming, Sharon Isbin, Alison Krauss
    Label: Omac   Catalog: 16 Release Date: 09/13/2011   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Mel Torme,  Leroy Anderson,  Mykola Dmytrovich Leontov,  Johann Sebastian Bach  ... 
    Performer:  Edgar Meyer,  Mark O'Connor,  Jane Monheit,  Mark O'Connor  ... 
    CD: $11.99
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  • 8.
    Appalachia Waltz / Yo-Yo Ma
    Label: Sony   Catalog: 56116 Release Date: 05/03/2011   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Traditional,  Edgar Meyer,  Mark O'Connor
    Performer:  Edgar Meyer,  Mark O'Connor,  Yo-Yo Ma
    CD: $11.99
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  • 9.
    Beauty In America / Carla Auld, Eric Jacobsen, Ana Maria Rosado
    Label: Msr   Catalog: 1318 Release Date: 12/14/2010   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Robert Beaser,  Gary Schocker,  Mark O'Connor,  Steven Giammarino
    Performer:  Carla Auld,  Ana María Rosado
    Conductor:  Eric Jacobsen
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  The Beauty In America Orchestra
    Recommendation
    On sale! $13.98
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  • 10.
    Appalachian Journey / Ma, Meyer, O'connor, Taylor, Krauss
    Label: Sony   Catalog: 756140 Release Date: 07/20/2010   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Edgar Meyer,  Mark O'Connor,  Stephen Foster,  Traditional  ... 
    Performer:  Yo-Yo Ma,  Mark O'Connor,  James [Soft Rock] Taylor,  Alison Krauss
    CD: $11.99
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  • 11.
    Memories And Souvenirs
    Label: Calabaza Records   Catalog: 50133925 Release Date: 01/01/2010   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Mark Summer,  Osvaldo Golijov,  François Rabbath,  Mark O'Connor  ... 
    Performer:  Amy Sue Barston,  Evan Solomon,  Gabriel Kader
    CD: $31.99
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  • 12.
    Yo-Yo Ma - 30 Years Outside the Box
    Label: Sony   Catalog: 752307 Release Date: 10/27/2009   Number of Discs: 90
    Composer:  Sandeep Das,  Traditional,  Kayhan Kalhor,  Zhou Long  ... 
    Performer:  Joseph Gramley,  Kim Dong-Won,  Yo-Yo Ma,  Mark Suter  ... 
    Conductor:  Miguel Harth-Bedoya,  John Williams,  Ennio Morricone,  Isaac Stern  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Silk Road Ensemble,  Chicago Symphony Orchestra,  Qi Lin  ... 
    On sale!
    CD: $179.99
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  • 13.
    O'connor: String Quartets No 2 & 3 / O'connor, Kavafian, Neubauer, Haimovitz
    Label: Omac   Catalog: 14 Release Date: 05/26/2009   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Mark O'Connor
    Performer:  Matt Haimovitz,  Mark O'Connor,  Paul Neubauer,  Ida Kavafian
    CD: $9.99
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  • 14.
    Journey To The New World - Duarte, Niles, Etc / Sharon Isbin, Joan Baez, Mark O'connor
    Label: Sony   Catalog: 745456 Release Date: 03/24/2009   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Mark O'Connor,  John Jacob Niles,  John Duarte,  Andrew York  ... 
    Performer:  Sharon Isbin,  Mark O'Connor,  Joan Baez
    Recommendation
    CD: $14.99
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  • 15.
    O'Connor: Americana Symphony, Violin Concerto No 6 / O'Connor, Alsop
    Label: Omac   Catalog: 12 Release Date: 03/10/2009   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Mark O'Connor
    Performer:  Mark O'Connor
    Conductor:  Marin Alsop,  Joel Smirnoff
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Baltimore Symphony Orchestra,  Pro Arte Chamber Orchestra
    Recommendation
    CD: $9.99
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  • 16.
    An American Journey - Gershwin, O'connor, Bernstein / Eroica Trio
    Label: Emi Classics   Catalog: 07351 Release Date: 10/14/2008   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Leonard Bernstein,  Mark O'Connor,  Kenji Bunch
    Performer:  Sara Sant'Ambrogio,  Erika Nickrenz,  Susie Park
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Eroica Trio
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    CD: $15.99
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  • 17.
    O'Connor: Folk Mass / Gloriae Dei Cantores
    Label: Omac   Catalog: 10 Release Date: 10/14/2008   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Mark O'Connor
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Gloriae Dei Cantores
    CD: $9.99
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  • 18.
    The Essential Yo-Yo Ma
    Label: Sony   Catalog: 93927 Release Date: 08/16/2005   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Antonio Carlos Jobim,  Antonín Dvorák,  Johannes Brahms,  Joseph Brackett  ... 
    Performer:  Yo-Yo Ma,  Kathryn Stott,  Nilson Matta,  Rosa Passos  ... 
    Conductor:  Kurt Masur,  Ennio Morricone,  Chen Xieyang,  Tan Dun  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  New York Philharmonic,  Roma Sinfonietta Orchestra,  Claude Bolling Ensemble  ... 
    CD: $18.99
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  • 19.
    Drive Time - Blue Ridge Parkway
    Label: Sony   Catalog: 94773 Release Date: 06/28/2005   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Joseph Brackett,  Mark O'Connor,  George Gershwin,  Leroy Anderson  ... 
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  • 20.
    O'Connor: Double Violin Concerto, etc / Salerno-Sonnenberg
    Label: Omac   Catalog: 8 Release Date: 06/14/2005   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Mark O'Connor,  Traditional
    Performer:  Mark O'Connor,  John Jarvis,  Bryan Sutton,  Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg
    Conductor:  Marin Alsop
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Colorado Symphony Orchestra
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  • 21.
    Mark O'connor: The American Seasons / Yoo, O'connor, Et Al
    Label: Sony   Catalog: 89660 Release Date: 09/25/2001   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Mark O'Connor
    Performer:  Mark O'Connor
    Conductor:  Scott Yoo
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Metamorphosen Chamber Orchestra
    CD: $9.99
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  • 22.
    Classic Yo-yo / Yo-yo Ma
    Label: Sony   Catalog: 89667 Release Date: 09/18/2001   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Johannes Brahms,  Johann Sebastian Bach,  Joseph Brackett,  Mark O'Connor  ... 
    Performer:  Emanuel Ax,  Yo-Yo Ma,  Alison Krauss,  Mark O'Connor  ... 
    Conductor:  John Williams,  Ton Koopman,  Seiji Ozawa
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Shanghai National Orchestra,  Shanghai Symphony Orchestra,  Los Angeles Recording Arts Orchestra  ... 
    CD: $14.99
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  • 23.
    Classical Hits / Brightman, Church, Ma, Pavarotti, Et Al
    Label: Sony   Catalog: 89702 Release Date: 09/11/2001   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Mark O'Connor,  Tan Dun,  Carl Orff,  Leonard Bernstein  ... 
    Performer:  Mark O'Connor,  Edgar Meyer,  Yo-Yo Ma,  Joshua Bell  ... 
    Conductor:  Tan Dun,  John Williams,  David Zinman,  Herbert von Karajan  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Shanghai Symphony Orchestra,  Shanghai Percussion Ensemble,  Tanglewood Festival Chorus  ... 
    CD: $8.99
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  • 24.
    Gloriae Dei Cantores - Appalachian Sketches / Mark O'connor
    Label: Gloriae Dei Cantores   Catalog: 3348 Release Date: 08/07/2001   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Mark O'Connor
    Performer:  Mark O'Connor
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Gloriae Dei Cantores
    CD: $19.99
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  • 25.
    Heartland - An Appalachian Anthology /Ma, Bell, Fleck, Et Al
    Label: Sony   Catalog: 89683 Release Date: 07/03/2001   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Mark O'Connor,  Traditional,  Edgar Meyer,  Stephen Foster
    Performer:  John Mock,  Russ Barenberg,  Mark Schatz,  John Jarvis  ... 
    CD: $11.99
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