PORTLAND — American composer and violin virtuoso Mark O’Connor and his string quartet will perform on Friday, March 4, at Merrill Auditorium, courtesy of Portland Ovations.

A Grammy Award-winning artist, O’Connor’s career crosses multiple genres — classical, jazz, bluegrass and country music. The concert will feature Americana-influenced works composed by O’Connor, including his recent String Quartet No. 3 Old-Time, as well as selections from his acclaimed Appalachia Waltz and Appalachian Journey.

A product of America’s rich aural folk tradition as well as classical music, O’Connor’s creative journey began at the feet of a pair of musical giants. The first was the folk fiddler Benny Thomasson; the second, French jazz violinist, Stephane Grappelli. Throughout his career, O’Connor has absorbed, studied and drawn upon influences from a multitude of musical styles and genres that bridge the extremes of Thomasson’s and Grappelli’s methods. This journey has culminated in O’Connor’s own unique style of American classical music for which he is now so popularly known.

O’Connor has sold more than 2 million CDs as a solo recording artist. He has been nominated for 10 Grammy Awards, winning two, and has also received seven Country Music Awards. His compositions include concertos, string quartets, string trios, choral works, solo violin works and a new symphony.

He has collaborated with a wide variety of artists such as Yo-Yo Ma, Edgar Meyer, James Taylor, Alison Krauss, Tony Rice, Bela Fleck, Renee Fleming, Matt Haimovitz, Chris Thile, Patty Loveless, Wynton Marsalis and Rosanne Cash.

O’Connor’s vision for teaching an American classical approach to violin playing was realized in 2009, with the publication of the O’Connor violin method. It is the first teaching method for violin that features all American music. The method is based upon O’Connor’s belief that classical violin students who develop a working knowledge of folk fiddling, jazz music and world music styles are more successful in the new music environment.

Ovations Offstage is partnering with Acoustic Artisans, the Portland Music Foundation, North Yarmouth Academy and 317 Main Street Music Center to present a series of free lectures and demonstrations.

On March 2 at 7 p.m. at Rines Auditorium inside the Portland Public Library, O’Connor and violin maker Jonathan Cooper of Portland’s Acoustic Artisans will discuss and demonstrate how different violins make different sounds. Cooper is the maker of O’Connor’s primary instrument.

On March 3 at 7 p.m. at North Yarmouth Academy, O’Connor will present an informal and lively demonstration providing insights into the differences and similarities between the fiddle and violin.

And on March 4 at 6:30 p.m., immediately preceding the O’Connor Quartet concert, representatives from 317 Main Street Community Music Center will present a lecture/demonstration of techniques for learning string instruments and discuss O’Connor’s influence on the new American school of string playing. This event takes place in the rehearsal hall at Merrill Auditorium.

For more information about the Ovations Offstage activities, visit www.portlandovations.org/offstage.

The concert will begin at 8 p.m. for tickets, from $32 to $40, call 842-0800 or visit the box office window at Merrill Auditorium or visit www.portlandovations.org.


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