A product of America’s rich aural folk tradition as well as classical music, Mark O’Connor’s 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, French jazz violinist, considered one of the greatest improvisers in the history of the violin, Stephane Grappelli. Working with classical violin icons Isaac Stern, Itzhak Perlman, Yehudi Menhuin and Pinchas Zukerman, he absorbed knowledge and influence from the multitude of musical styles and genres he studied and participated in. With his body of work including 45 feature albums of mostly his own compositions, Mark O’Connor has melded and shaped these influences into a new American Classical music, and a vision of an entirely American school of string playing.
Mr. O’Connor’s 2016 CD release with the O’Connor Band received a Grammy nomination for “Best Bluegrass Album” after spending nearly half of the year at the top of Billboard’s bluegrass album chart. Forming the band with his wife Maggie, son Forrest, future daughter-in-law Kate as well as Joe Smart and Geoff Saunders, No Depression Magazine describes Mr. O’Connor’s new project this way: “There are some albums that are so sonically gorgeous, they sound as if the music has arrived from another plane; the players are so connected to each other, weaving their own parts so tightly together, the sound encloses you in its warmth and beauty…Very few bands can achieve this sense of playing-as-one so completely, so effortlessly that the entire force of the music – the vocals and every instrument – settles into us physically and emotionally as we listen. But ‘Coming Home’, the debut album by the O’Connor Band – the family band led by Mark O’Connor – is one of those albums.”