January 19, 2011

Versatile violinist Mark OConnor to perform at Meany Jan. 29

Mark O'Connor | Photo by Jim McGuire

Violinist Mark OConnor performs at 8 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 29, at Meany Hall. Embracing Appalachian fiddling, the jazz violin and the canon of classical music for strings, O’Connor redefines the idea of “cross-over” artist.

A Seattle native, O’Connors 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 was a French jazz violinist who is considered one of the greatest improvisers in the history of the violin, Stephane Grappelli. Along the way, 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.

His compositions have been performed by the likes of Yo-Yo Ma, Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg and the Eroica Trio. And his jazz violin recordings are considered some of the best in the world. This performance will give a sample of his abilities both as performer and composer in an evening that showcases his range.

OConnor will perform with his own string quartet — Kelly Hall-Tompkins, violin; Gillian Gallagher, viola and Patrice Jackson, cello.

Prior to his UW World Series concert, O’Connor will conduct a free lecture demonstration at Seattle Public Library to discuss and demonstrate his American style of string playing, his improvisational abilities and the process of composition. Appropriate for all ages, this lecture demonstration, which begins at 4 p.m., will offer a personal glimpse into the life of a musical artist who has often been called “genius.”

Tickets for the Meany concert are $30 ($20 for students). They may be purchased by phone at 206-543-4880, online, or in person at the UW Arts Ticket Office.