The Rogers Revue

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Mark O’Connor and Friends Appalachian Christmas Resonates American Traditionalism

3 min read

mark oconnor

The mighty violin can be traced back to the roots of American music. Along the way settlers musical traditions were passed along particularly the very compact and mobile violin and cultural variations developed into what could be considered the advent of music during the birth of our nation. At the present day forefront of the new live translation of these traditional practices sits Mark O’Connor one of the most renowned American violinist/fiddlers of our time. He is on stage at the Music Center at Strathmore and he brought along an ensemble of musicians surely to evoke these traditional American standards.

This compilation of sounds seems fitting when paired with holiday tunes. The blends of sounds and genres encompassed such as Folk, Jazz, Bluegrass, Classical, and Country really fit the standard of Christmas tradition and celebration. It was absolutely amazing to hear a bluegrass interpretation of “Ave Maria” and “Carol of the Bells” and that classical music could blend so well with bluegrass. It was like listening to a developmental link of music through time. Almost how Rock ‘n’ Roll was influenced by the Blues, Bluegrass and Country were influenced by Classical music of all things. Well it’s not too surprising I guess. All music was influenced by Classical music in some form or another, but the similarities are astounding when you hear a Bluegrass or Country interpretation of a classical song. It’s like jazz in theory; a Classical song with either Bluegrass or Country sounding improvisations. Every layer of music fit so well and has its place, its genius. I’m in awe; it’s so obvious I don’t know how I didn’t notice it before. Mark O’Connor enlightens you through sound.

This concert also had a number of great performers that made it special. Carrie Rodriguez who sang vocals and played second violin sung so smoothly. She has a real jazzy sound when she sings and performed a beautiful version of “Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire”. It was like I time traveled back to the early 1950’s when she sung and then when she played violin traveled back even further to the 17th century. Mark O’Connor’s son Forrest O’Connor played the mandola and did some vocals as well. His voice is soft but at the same time loud and confident; he sung “Now it Belongs to You” a song about the story of a father who goes off to war and leaves his fiddle behind for his son. It was touching seeing him perform that piece with his dad.

This concert was amazing. I learned so much about music just through analyzing its structure and composition. It’s was like an epiphany of sound. Mark O’Connor violin playing was unprecedented except for maybe Joshua Bell but that’s high praise to say the least. Mark O’Connor’s violin solos will captivate you. There were moments where I was gasping in amazement. Mark O’Connor is a must see for anybody. He is not only one of the greatest American fiddle players but one of the greatest living American musicians period.