Released 2004 OMAC Records (dist. by Allegro and IODA)
This amazing collection of 30 years of work by violinist Mark O'Connor features fellow instrumental virtuosos Chris Thile, Bryan Sutton, and Byron House recorded LIVE in concert to capture the 29 songs on this double CD set.
MARK O'CONNOR CONCERTS PLANNED TO RECORD LIVE ALBUM
CELEBRATING FIDDLER'S 30-YEAR CAREER
Chris Thile, Bryan Sutton, Byron House to Guest
In 7:00 p.m. Concerts July 3, and 5 and 3:00 p.m. July 4
At Vanderbilt's Blair School of Music
NASHVILLE, TENN. (June 4, 2002) Grammy winning violinist, fiddler
and composer Mark O'Connor returns to Nashville for three concerts July
3, 4 and 5, 2002, at the Blair School of Music at Vanderbilt University
to record a live album drawing from the rich catalog of music he has
created and recorded over his 30 years as a professional musician.
The concerts will begin at 7:00 p.m. July 3 and 5, and at 3:00 p. m.
July 4. Tickets are $15.00 and will be available at the door prior to
He will be joined by three of acoustic music's greatest players: Chris
Thile on mandolin, Bryan Sutton on guitar and Byron House on doublebass,
to recreate music from the genres O'Connor has embraced and influenced
over the last three decades. The program will include tunes from his
fiddle contest years as a 12-year-old star on the festival circuit and
from his first six albums on Rounder Records during his teen years;
music from Strength in Numbers, the legendary gathering of some of
Nashville's finest acoustic musicians; selections from his years as a
Warner Bros. artist ? years that produced his acclaimed Heroes album and
his Grammy winning New Nashville Cats recording, a CD that featured 57
of Nashville's greatest session musicians and artists.
From his most recent years as a solo recording artist for the Sony
Classical label, O'Connor will perform works from Appalachia Waltz and
Grammy-winning Appalachian Journey, his recordings with Nashvillian
Edgar Meyer and acclaimed cellist Yo-Yo Ma, as well as from his
soundtrack album for "Liberty!" the six-part documentary on the American
All three concerts will be recorded live for an album that will be
released in 2003 on O'Connor's own OMAC record label.
"I'm at that age when you tend to look both backward and forward and
reflect on what you've accomplished," O'Connor said. "I made my first
record for Rounder in 1974, when I was 12 years old. I'll be 42 next
year, and I wanted to celebrate this personal milestone in music with
music, so I decided to invite some of today's superstar acoustic
musicians to join me. I think I've got the best around in Chris Thile,
Bryan Sutton and Byron House.
"I could have done this album at another time in another place, but I
wanted to do it in Nashville where there is a real appreciation for
these great players and this music," O'Connor commented. "I chose the
beautiful new Ingram performance hall at the Blair School of Music where
I started the fiddling program. This is a celebration, but it's also
going to be a great homecoming."
Byron House is an in-demand bass player on the Nashville recording
scene. In recent years, he has contributed his talents to recordings by
Amy Grant, Nickel Creek, Emmylou Harris and the Dixie Chicks.
Bryan Sutton burst on the music scene as a member of Ricky Skagg's
Kentucky Thunder band, but left in 1999 to devote himself to recording
work. One of today's elite session guitarists, his work is heard on
recordings by Rhonda Vincent, the Dixie Chicks and is featured on Dolly
Parton's bluegrass album, The Grass is Blue.
Chris Thile, widely heralded as one of the finest mandolin players in
the world, is leader of the award-winning band Nickel Creek. At age 12,
he released his first album, Leading Off. He regularly tours with
Nickel Creek, winning awards and media attention from publications
including the New York Times and Time magazine.
In recent years, O'Connor has resided largely in the classical arena,
composing and performing his own symphonic works with orchestras in the
United States and abroad, as well as performing with his Hot Swing jazz
trio and in solo recital. His latest Sony Classical album, American
Seasons: Seasons of an American Life, won him wide popular and critical
acclaim, with one classical critic calling it the "first great work of
the 21st century."
His jazz album, Hot Swing!, a tribute to his friend and mentor Stephane
Grappelli has reintroduced him to today's jazz audiences. His busy
performance schedule in the classical field has occupied most of his
time and has prevented him from regularly performing in the world of
jazz, an area he frequented as a 17-year-old player touring with
Grappelli. At a Grappelli tribute concert at Carnegie Hall, O'Connor,
basisst Jon Burr (who also toured with Grappelli) and guitarist Frank
Vignola, decided perform together, and the Hot Swing Trio was born. The
results have been spectacularly successful. The trio now plays to
sold-out crowds at virtually every engagement. Most recently, the trio
sold out three consecutive evenings on the Jazz@Lincoln Center program,
earning spectacular reviews from New York jazz critics.
Bryan and Chris,
I hope this finds you both very well. The recordings are getting closer now and wanted to check in. A press release was sent out about it and I passed it on to my mailing list in case anybody from it could attend. I know I have heard form a few people from Bryan's site and from a Nickel Creek generated news site as well. Much, much appreciated. Thank you! I will probably take out a few ads the week before the concerts at Blair to try and put bodies in to the seats for the most spirited enthusiasm we can muster up. All tickets are available at the door. (the musicians can have extensive guests lists if desired) After the press release went out, we were notified that we will be considered for pick of the week in the Tennessean so that is great news for the project. Heads up on the July 4th concert date. Show time will be at 3:00 in the afternoon so it does not conflict with Independence Day fireworks and parties.
I wanted to give you a tip on the sheet music. I went to Kinkos and combined book 1 and book 2 for better management on stage. When and if you have them rebind it (coil binding at Kinkos) make sure you keep the covers (both front and the blank backs) because the page turning will work out and it provides as a nice separation marker for easier navigation. The final set list orders we will figure out during rehearsals.
Well I am excited to play and look forward to putting it down with you all. And I can't wait to wrap my ears around your incredible playing. I am recording three feature albums this summer! I will be the feature soloist on the movie soundtrack for Gods & Generals starring Robert Duvall for Sony, and late summer, another Sony album with Hot Swing Trio along with featured guests Wynton Marsalis and Jane Monheit (the incredible jazz soprano). It will be the most intense and rewarding period of recording I have have ever done, and I want to thank you in advance for being there with me to get everything started great. I will never forget it! See you in Tennessee.
I'm having a great time working on the new stuff! I'm afraid I'm not very close to having it under my fingers, but all will be well by the time we start playing it together. How fun!!! It's amazing to me to see on paper what you were already up to even back then. It's very inspiring for me! Anyway, just wanted to drop you a line saying hi! Can't wait to see you and play with you!
RE: Mark O'Connor's Thirty Year Retrospective
Dear Byron, Bryan and Chris,
I am home now and wanted to write to thank you for a great live concert
album! It was an exciting week and to see it come off like it did was
exceptional. I am proud of you for this accomplishment and sincerely
hope you are too. It was not an easy task and most would say, nearly
impossible. It certainly would have been fifteen years ago!
After reflecting a bit, I can't tell you how nice it was to work with
you for the first time. This particular occasion was the first time
really, that made me wish I still had a hand in the bluegrass/newgrass
scene as well as my classical and jazz stuff I do now. But it is
difficult to keep everything going at once. The only way I would tour
this project, wishing to keep my artistic standards very high, is if you
guys would come on board for it. Something to ponder at a later date I
Your preparation, artistry, mutli-disciplined knowledge, ability to
read, and to improvise so greatly is something that most people will
hear from you on this double CD. My tunes from all through these 30
years have never sounded better. In most cases, I am sure that these
renditions eclipsed the original recordings by quite a mark! That is of
course conjecture, but I am convinced that this is a bench mark project,
not just a best of collection session. Many of these pieces will have a
new impact on the scene because of our playing together. What a nice
legacy for me to leave behind as well.
I am so glad we were able to pull this off together as I really saw this
project no other way, and with no other musicians. I am sure you might
have guessed this but for a while, I thought the project would not come
to reality with the dynamics of our schedules and with management
concerns. The chronology of developments for this project began at first
as a heart stopper, then a heart breaker and in the end, another kind of
heart stopper, but a great kind - a show stopper!
Thanks for all of your guest lists at these recorded concerts. It made
me feel great that you wanted to share this with your friends. As I was
coming home on the plane, a week late on the deadline for my Choral Mass
commission and working like crazy on the final details, I could not help
but think how ironic it is. I would have been perfectly content and
artistically satisfied beyond my dreams to work on my Mass, or on my
next concerto, but I was drawn back to my bygone days. And for only
three reasons Byron House, Bryan Sutton and Chris Thile. It has been
splendid. And I do thank you for the memories!
The very best of luck to you in the year ahead.
I Am Sincerely Yours,