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For information about booking Mark O'Connor (solo, groups, orchestra...), please contact:


Jessica Finkelberg
Booking Representative
American Classical Music Management
315 West 57th Street * Suite 14H
New York, New York 10019
917 349 9325
email: jessicaformoc@aol.com


Click here to listen to Mark's Caprice No 1.

To listen to additional sound clips, go to the Sheet Music and Concert Repertoire areas of the site.

To download free copies of Mark's Americana Symphony (Variations on Appalachia Waltz) orchestral score and the scores from his concertos, please go to to the free orchestral download section of the Concert Repertoire page.


(Program Notes follow.)


Letter from Dubuque Symphony Conductor William Intriligator on the new
Mark O'Connor composition, "Variations on Appalachia Waltz" 

 

I'm happy to write praise for Mark O'Connor's new symphony. It was a thrill to conduct, and I am looking forward to another opportunity to perform it again soon.  For me personally, very few pieces of new music have the same emotional and visceral effect as this symphony.  It has such power and beauty, and these traits are expressed in original ways that are pure O'Connor and truly American.

 

I am overjoyed that the pairing of the O'Connor Symphony with Dvorak's "New World" Symphony in Dubuque this weekend seemed to resonate with so many people. They seem to complement one another in so many ways: each work utilizing American folk material while painting landscapes of our country, and expressing American sensibilities.  In Dvorak's symphony, the struggles seem more war- like, with broad strokes painted by a composer who never truly felt at home in this country, and whose homesickness pervades the work.  In the O'Connor symphony, the struggles lead to an ultimate sense of home and belonging, and of being American.

 

My decision to end our Dubuque Symphony concerts with the O'Connor symphony rather than Dvorak's "New World" was carefully thought through, and O'Connor's score did deliver just as much emotional power and catharsis as Dvorak's.

 

It was a privilege to be among the first to perform this symphony. For me, O'Connor's Americana Symphony has become a place where joy, dance, tenderness, and majesty all converge to make me more alive..to make me whole again.

 

William Intriligator

Music Director & Conductor, Dubuque Symphony

October 8th, 2007



Program Notes: Variations on Appalachia Waltz
I composed my first symphony as a series of variation movements of my own composition Appalachia Waltz (1993).  I embarked on the work after completing six full-length concertos for violin and orchestra, dating from 1990 to 2005. In recent years, a few conductors asked when I would be channeling into a symphony the American orchestral language I had developed in my concertos.

I began work on Symphony No. 1 in August 2006 and finished in June 2007. I wrote seven variations, and a partial eight variation, and have decided to include six variation movements in my final draft of the work (although I have allowed the piece to be performed in shorter version in when need be). The piece differs slightly from many variation schemes in that the subject theme is saved for the conclusion. During the piece, the listeners hear the phrases of Appalachia Waltz revealed through various treatments. Motivic, intervallic, inversion, augmentation, imitative, phrase chain development, re-harmonization and characteristic settings are some of the technical applications utilized to vary and develop the material. Each movement chips away at the theme of the original tune, and for the finale, Appalachia Waltz is played in its entirety by the orchestra.

I.     Brass Fanfare:  Wide Open Spaces

 This movement is a characteristic and additive variation inspired by key phrases of Appalachia Waltz for the brass and percussion of the orchestra. This opening music sets up a distinct Americana theme.  With performance descriptions like Boldy with Valour and Resounding, it musically describes the spirit of the American journey, the idealism of the frontier, the Westward expansion, and the notion that a better life may lie ahead over the next hill or in the next hollow. The journey that so many took was dramatic because of tremendous hardship of travel, but it was the price they were willing to pay as they sought better and richer lives in a land and time of uncertainty.  I approach the more solemn aspects with dramatic shifts down in volume to the muted horns and trumpets, creating a setting for a thematic phrase to interrupt the course, and to find the hope again. This westward movement the optimism that charged it the personal loss that was endured and the great prairies and mountain ranges that were the physical backdrop for the journey, form the framework of the piece, and the Fanfare introduces this setting.

II.  New  World Fanciful Dance

 This characteristic variation of key phrases taken from Appalachia Waltz reflects the beginning of the Appalachian communities when this area was the original melting pot of America. Names like Melungeon Jig listed in the score help describe both the original Appalachian people and the music so relevant to this region.  The musical setting is a jig dance, an Irish inspiration.  Within the movement there are different modes and temperaments this jig takes on as it seeks to reflect the various cultures of the people of Appalachia.  The Irish jig reflects the characteristics of a melting pot as European, Mediterranean, African, Asian, South American influences emerge.  I incorporate the musical notion of an American ideal where everyone is dancing the jig but in different ways.  I envision the hills and hollows as alive with folks playing their music and dancing.  I used to see these scenes as a child visiting the region and attending fiddle contests where individual buck dancers kicked up their heels to fiddlers all across the valley. This movement depicts perhaps a more exotic life in Appalachia before the journey westward.

III.  Different Paths Towards Home

 This movement is a fugue composed with the original strict rules of fugal composition from hundreds of years ago. It is perhaps interesting that an old European composing technique can result in American sounding music. For many, the Eastern seaboard meant the discovery of the new world.  It was the New World, but not yet home. Listen for a section described in the score as Silk Road to Appalachia. I hear sounds of Asia in the tradition of American fiddling and folk music and suggest in the music that the Silk Road may have extended all the way to Appalachia. I imagine myself at the edge of the Eastern mountain ranges, the Appalachians, the Great Smokey Mountains, the Alleghenies and looking westward, surveying the journey ahead. The bravest set off in search of a better way of life.  Some knew the hardships getting there, and many more knew they might never see their loved ones again. Many had already endured much to get to the new world, and some came to America enslaved.  But the pursuit of happiness reigned, no matter the awful price. The displacement of peoples is a key component of American music. The fugue, which is based on two phrases of the Appalachia Waltz theme, depicts both the shared journey and the different routes travelers took across the plains. The movement describes an extraordinary time for Americans and concludes in quiet repose.

IV. Open Plains Hoedown

 This movement is a characteristic variation in the form of a dance called the hoedown. It is an American style of music a complex combination of reels derived from Ireland and Scotland.  The hoedown is a uniquely American musical mlange combining elements of two hundred years of musical contributions of African-American slave fiddlers, Southeastern Bluegrass fiddlers and Texas contest fiddlers from the 1930s. With this movement, the hoedown creates what my score suggests as a Swift Gallop across the prairie. I want the listener to feel the dust being kicked up by the wagons and horses as the prairie dogs and rabbits do their own hoedown and scurry out of the way! There is a section described in the music as Indian Dance that the hoedown develops suggesting the excitement and hostility in store. There is another section called Texas Fiddle which is the style of fiddle music I learned as a child from the great Texas fiddler Benny Thomasson. The music of the Southwest is an important cultural development in American music brought on by this Westward expansion. Fire on the Mountain and Vigorously are performance descriptions in the score to call for more energy and drive from the musicians of the orchestra. Each section of the orchestra becomes a part of the hoedown that inspire the fleeting moments on the journey West.

    V.  Soaring Eagle, Setting Sun

 The fifth variation is a canon. It takes two phrases from Appalachia Waltz  and (through canonic imitation and some fugal applications) musically invokes the emotional journey of ascending the majestic Rocky Mountains.  The movement begins in the lowest register of the basses and cellos, a processional recalling the tremendous loss of life so far encountered on the journey. Now the Westward travelers face a seemingly insurmountable obstacle, the face of a mountain.  As the winds and brass join in with their echo phrases, I imagine travelers at the foothills looking forward, looking up, with their wagons, horses and others walking, trudging, plodding. Ultimately, the entire string section with percussion bells and chimes scale the mountain further. The unyielding slopes broaden as the travelers reach the pinnacle and revel in their accomplishment.  As many instruments play repeating notes at fortissimo, the combination of 1st violins, piccolo, flute, oboe, glockenspiel and vibraphone plays the refrains of the canon phrase, exemplifying the mountains top.  One can imagine the exultation. The last great obstacle to the radiant vastness of the West has been overcome.

    VI.  Spendid Horizons

The final movement begins with an introduction in transition from the struggle of the mountain face to the iridescent vistas now seen from this vantage point. The self-determination to get this far has been unyielding, grand and momentous. As the horns in the orchestra introduce the Appalachia Waltz theme, the feelings and memories of the journey, people and their own cultures that will stay with them are invoked.  After the orchestra takes the chorus refrain of the theme to a triumphant peak, the strings take the last strains of the A part again. One by one, the players fall off and discontinue playing, until at the last phrase of the piece, the trio of the violin, cello and bass are left this is the sound of the original piece performed by Yo-Yo Ma, Edgar Meyer and me.   The orchestra joins for the final note of the melody before more motivic refrains offered by the winds, strings, brass and percussion bring a final crescendo that joyously celebrates spirit, wonder, renewed optimism and hope for a brighter future

Mark OConnor
August 23, 2007

 



Symphony No. 1 World Premiere
Mark Reports from the Cabrillo Festival of  Contemporary Music


The Cabrillio Festival of Contemporary Music, Santa Cruz, CA: Marin Alsop, artistic director. August 3, 2007.

"My heart was full all night.  At the conclusion of my premiere, I had not heard bravos and cheers for minutes non stop like that for music I composed before, with me just sitting on the sidelines.  The screaming during the applause from this sold-out opening night concert was amazing, like a rock concert.  So many musicians talked to me afterwards about how the music affected them.  The night was electric."  Mark O'Connor

To read Mark's full report, go to www.myspace.com/composermarkoconnor.

To hear a podcast interview with Mark about composing Americana Symphony (Variations on Appalachia Waltz), please visit http://www.michaelgaither.com. In addition to a discussion of the work, Michael's podcast includes a discussion of Mark's musical influences, fiddle camp and his upcoming appearances at the Aspen and  Strawberry festivals.


Check out Mark's MySpace Page

If you've never seen Mark perform one of his Caprices, checkout his MySpace page at

www.myspace.com/composermarkoconnor or

http://profile.myspace.com/index.cfm?
fuseaction=user.viewprofile&friendid=201277860

You'll find video of his astounding Caprice No. 1, as well as concert dates, with more information coming.
Become a Friend, and let us hear from you!


Mark and Rosanne Cash Share Stage at Markin Hall
A capacity crowd witnessed an incredible night of music Jan. 25, as Mark OConnor and Rosanne Cash shared the stage at New Yorks Merkin Concert Hall in an intimate acoustic concert. The evening began with Marks new piano trio (Melissa Marse, piano; Arash Amini, cello) performing his Poets and Prophets work, based on the life and music of the legendary Johnny Cash. (The composition was commissioned by the acclaimed Eroica Trio.) Rosanne performed the second half of the concert, singing works from her current, Grammy nominated album, Black Cadillac and was joined on stage by Mark and the trio for several of Rosanne's tunes, including two (God is in the Roses and The World Unseen) he arranged especially for the concert.


If you have attended Marks Strings Conference in San Diego or the Mark OConnor  Fiddle Camp in Tennessee, this CD will bring back warm and fond memories.  For others, this recording, Fiddle Camp: Mark OConnor and Guests, will give you a glimpse into Marks internationally renowned string celebrations.
 
A stellar array of faculty members/guest artists will take you on a musical journey across genre and style.  These are some of the most memorable moments from legendary (and a few truly historic) evening concerts with offerings from Sara Caswell, Catherine Cho, Tashina and Tristan Clarridge, Johnny Frigo, Jeremy Kittel, Janet Sung, the late Claude Fiddler Williams and, of course, Mark himself.

This recording is available exclusively through the website.

Click here to visit Merchandise section and purchase the Fiddle Camp CD.


In News & Notes:


 

Mark O'Connor Merchandise Store
The official source for Mark O'Connor music, video, and songbooks!  For your convenience, we accept MasterCard and Visa. Our merchandise area is a good place to purchase harder-to-find O'Connor releases such as Caprices No's 1 - 6 video; the DVD with Ma and Meyer; and O'Connor's new Thirty-Year Retrospective with Chris Thile, Bryan Sutton and Byron House.

Click here to visit Merchandise section.

 

Mark O'Connor Sheet Music
Mark O'Connor's sheet music is available online for purchase and download! Most titles are available in several instrumentations; click on a title to see the variety of arrangements for each title.  New titles and arrangements will be added to the site periodically, so check back often. Technical support relating to the sheet music and shopping cart is available through the sheet music page.

Click here to visit Sheet Music section.
 

Click here to read more about some of Mark's current projects!


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No unauthorized duplication of any content allowed.

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