'05-'06 Encore Series to close with Mark O'Connor and The Appalachia Waltz Trio

Mark O’Connor and The Appalachia Waltz Trio will conclude the 2005-2006 Encore Series at 8 p.m. on Monday, April 24, in the Beach/Schmidt Performing Arts Center.

A violinist, composer and fiddler, Mark O’Connor is widely recognized as one of the most gifted contemporary composers in America. A product of America’s aural folk tradition, O’Connor’s journey began at the feet of violin masters Texas fiddler Benny Thomasson and French jazz violinist Stephane Grappelli. Along the way, between these two marvelous musical extremes, O’Connor absorbed knowledge and influence from a multitude of musical styles and genres. Now in his early forties, he has melded and shaped these influences into a new American classical music.

His first recording for the Sony Classical record label, "Appalachia Waltz," was a collaboration with Yo-Yo Ma and doublebassist Edgar Meyer. The works 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.

Viewing O’Connor as a direct cultural descendant of America’s 18th-century musicians, the producers of the six-part PBS documentary on the American Revolution approached him to contribute music to their work. "Liberty!," an album of that music, features his arrangements of a variety of traditional American music and expansive original orchestral works. Both Ma and Wynton Marsalis appeared as guests on the album.

In 2000, composer John Williams called on O'Connor to contribute solo instrumentalist talents to the Oscar-nominated score of "The Patriot." He also was invited to contribute to the soundtrack of the Ron Maxwell film "Gods and Generals," released in 2003.

"Midnight on the Water," a live recording of his solo recital, was released in 1998. The album, long awaited by those who have followed O’Connor’s 28-year career and regarded by many as a definitive career work, firmly solidified his place as one of America’s premier musical artists. The CD includes O’Connor’s “Caprices 1-6,” which are gaining a reputation as classic works of the modern violin.

With more than 150 performances, his “Fiddle Concerto No. 1” has become the most-performed modern violin concerto.

In 2002, O’Connor formed a new chamber ensemble, the Appalachia Waltz Trio, which features cellist Natalie Haas and violist Carol Cook. The trio performs the music O’Connor created for his "Appalachia Waltz" and "Appalachian Journey" projects. The Appalachia Waltz Trio recorded in 2004.

O’Connor has appeared numerous times at the Walnut Valley Bluegrass Festival in Winfield, KS, at The White House, the Presidential Inauguration Celebration and the ceremonies of Atlanta’s Centennial Olympic Games, for which he composed “Olympic Reel.” He is often featured on major network television shows. Past appearances include "CBS Sunday Morning," "Great Performances" on PBS, the "Kennedy Center Honors" and America’s celebration of Israel’s 50th birthday, televised on CBS.

Tickets are available at the Student Service Center in the FHSU Memorial Union and may be charged by phone at (785) 628-5306. Reserved seat tickets are $18 for the public, $16 for senior citizens and children under 18 and $18 for FHSU students. Unreserved seats are $14, $12 and $10 respectively.

For more information contact Carol Brock at (785) 628-5801 or e-mail cbrock@fhsu.edu.

More information on to Mark O’Connor and The Appalachia Waltz Trio can be found at http://www.markoconnor.com.

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