Mark O’Connor – Violinist

We speak to Mark O’Connor, Violinist, composer, arranger and music ambassador to just name a few. We ask some questions about his early life and more news about what he’s doing presently. It’s a delight to have him on The Avenue.

Could you give us a brief bio Mark, where you’re from and how you started in this field?

I am from Seattle, began studying the guitar at 6, violin at 11, composing and improvising at 13.

When did you first discover your creative talents?

When I was 12, I could really feel a breakthrough on the creative side. I could fee the rush.

Could you tell us about some of your most recent work?

A few of my latest CDs in the last few years include “American Classics,” “Jam Session,” “An Appalachian Christmas,” “String Quartets No’s 2 & 3” and “Americana Symphony” all on my own label OMAC Records. I also have a new method to learn violin and strings by – the “O’Connor Method.”

What inspires you to keep going and how do you keep yourself motivated?

It is a serious question, and I hope I can answer. I have been motivated for years, but I felt much less motivation in the early years of my career. Interesting. Perhaps I have more to offer now, more experience, more ideas and maybe an increased responsibility to my own abilities, talent and legacy.

Are there any influences or anyone you look up to when it comes to the arts?

Sure, my mentors in music have included Stephane Grappelli and Benny Thomasson. Other heroes in music who have inspired me, and this is only a partial list; Gershwin, Copland, Ives, Armstrong, Duke, Bernstein, Marion Anderson, Dvorak, Beethoven, Barok, Piazzola… So many.

What moments really stand out in your musical life?

My first solo appearance at Carnegie Hall, first command performance at the East Room of the White House for Clinton and my appearance at the closing ceremonies of the Summer Olympics in Atlanta.

Can you share with us something funny that has happened to you recently?

I was at the University of Miami a few weeks ago, finished the final class of my residency and waiting on the curb for a cab. The cab never came, but the Dean’s wife drove up, recognized me and said what are you up to. “Just sitting here waiting for my cab and going back to the hotel to chill for the evening” I replied. She said, oh… I am picking up my girlfriend here at the choral department and we are going to a Wynton Marsalis concert. I responded – “is he playing in Miami tonight?” Well I hopped in their car, texted Wynton from the car, and within no time, I was on stage playing Corinna Corinna with Wynton! I don’t know if that cab ever showed up!

How do you bridge the gap between the business side of music and music?

As an entrepreneur, (ie owner of my publishing, my record company and leader of my ensembles etc.) I must find that creative bridge for the business side of what I do too or my head would discombobulate. I approach it as if they are both inextricably linked. Meaning if I don’t have a commission, I might not compose that piece. Or if I don’t have a concert booked I might not put that ensemble together. Or if I don’t have a YouTube channel (which I do, I might not make that video. I make it all as holistic as I can, therefore it makes sense to me to be an artist and leader as well as an entrepreneur.

Can you describe yourself in 5 words?

Creative, Optimistic, Revolutionary, Tireless, Passionate

Lastly, any words of advice for aspiring artists?

You have to find people who believe in you and what you do. It is extremely difficult to do what an artist must, without support of some kind.

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