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Mark O'Connor and Young Violin Stars Celebrate American Music On New Album

Mark O'ConnorOn June 10th, Grammy-winning violinist, composer, educator and former child prodigy Mark O’Connor will release his album MOC4, continuing his mission of bringing American music back to the forefront of string-playing. Now in his 40th year as a recording artist, O’Connor has collaborated with six acclaimed and previously mentored violinists on MOC4, including Bela Fleck & My Morning Jacket-collaborator Jeremy Kittel, Ahn Trio member Angella Ahn, the O’Connor String Quartet’s Kelly Hall-Tompkins, current Naumburg prize winner Tessa Lark, Jeff Daniels' fiddler and music producer Brad Phillips, and 2013 Downbeat Magazine “Rising Star” Sara Caswell.

“Mark has been influential for so many of us string players,” said Jeremy Kittel. “Playing a duo with him was very inspiring." Fellow duo partner Sara Caswell said "recording ["St. Louis Blues"] with Mark was a thrill on many levels—the joy experienced in blending sound, style, rhythm, and feel, and the realization that this same collaborative excitement will soon be felt by countless young string players."

MOC4 is the latest installment of O’Connor’s series dedicated to classic American music. It features arrangements that cover a plethora of largely American music styles and duets including bluegrass stalwart “Gold Rush” (with Phillips), the swinging mid-tempo jazz classic “St. Louis Blues” (with Caswell), Paul Desmond's energetic “Take Five” (with pianist Dan Nimmer from the Wynton Marsalis band), "The Civil War" theme "Ashokan Farewell" (with Hall-Tompkins), and “Emily’s Reel” (with Kittel), an original composition by O’Connor performed first with Yo-Yo Ma on the Grammy-winning 'Appalachian Journey.’ Watch O’Connor and Kittel perform “Emily’s Reel”: http://bit.ly/1ouRve9

Other album standouts include a Ray Nance-inspired rendition of the Duke Ellington staple “It Don’t Mean a Thing (If It Ain’t Got That Swing),” a solo Bach allemande reinterpreted with American fiddling, and a version of "La Bamba" taking the rock classic back to its Mexican violin roots in 1680s Veracruz.

With MOC4, together with his pedagogical series of method books, O’Connor “celebrates the lasting love of the instrument - its literature, its beautiful sound, its powerful history and the ability to touch people’s hearts.” He proves that an instrument traditionally praised for its triumphs within European classical music can be given new life in the realm of American classical, blues, jazz, bluegrass, spirituals, rock, ragtime and more.

Also in June, O’Connor will release the next book in his revolutionary teaching program, ‘O’Connor Method Book IV.’ The method bases string-centric music education on American musical literature, diversity, creativity and improvisation in solo, band and orchestral settings as opposed to the rote study of mostly all European Baroque pieces emphasized in alternative programs. ‘O’Connor Method Book IV’ also includes the sheet music for MOC4, and will further O’Connor’s mission to redefine string music education in schools and private studios around the world with the genres and styles embedded in American music culture.

"[My books contains] all the standard violin playing techniques along with this beautiful (American) music with rhythm and harmony and great, great tunes,” O’Connor told the Tennessean recently about the O’Connor Method.

MOC4 Track Listing:

  1. “Life Let Us Cherish”
  2. “Hornpipes (Tin Wedding, Golden Eagle, Ostinelli’s)”
  3. “Faded Love” (violin duo with Tessa Lark)
  4. “Clarinet Polka"
  5. “I’ll Fly Away”
  6. “Jole Blon” (violin duo with Angella Ahn)
  7. “Twinkle Twinkle Little Stars”
  8. “Minor Swing”
  9. “Take Five”
  10. “St. Louis Blues” (violin duo with Sara Caswell)
  11. “Mark’s Waltz”
  12. “Canadian Tunes (McNabbs/Fourth Floor)”
  13. “San Antonio Rose”
  14. “Gold Rush” (violin duo with Brad Phillips)
  15. “Beaumont Rag”
  16. “Dawn Waltz”
  17. “Tico-Tico no Fuba”
  18. “It Don’t Mean a Thing (If It Ain’t Got That Swing)”
  19. “Ashokan Farewell” (violin duo with Kelly Hall-Tompkins)
  20. “Bach Partita No. 2 (Allemande)”
  21. “Emily’s Reel” (violin duo with Jeremy Kittel)
  22. “La Bamba”

On the web:

MOC4“It Don’t Mean a Thing (If It Ain’t Got That Swing)”

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