Mark O'Connor Biography
Mark O'Connor (born August 5, 1961 in Seattle, Washington) is widely considered to be the most prominent fiddler of his generation. He is also skilled with the guitar and mandolin. Although he started with guitar he began to focus on the fiddle at 11, mentored by Texas fiddler Benny Thomasson, and by age 14 had won three national championships. He's won every major fiddle competition in the US, using a white-painted fiddle up until 1982. He began with the record label Rounder, with many of his albums produced by his mother, Marty O'Connor, and has worked under Warner Brothers, OMAC Records, and Sony, producing many of his albums himself after Marty's death. He has won a Grammy award, and has been named Musician of the Year by the Country Music Association six years in a row (from 1991-1996).
O'Connor has crossed musical genres, composing, arranging, and recording not only bluegrass music but also classical and jazz, and has worked and recorded with a wide variety of artists, such as Yo-Yo Ma, Edgar Meyer, James Taylor, Bela Fleck, David Grisman, Tony Rice, Stéphane Grappelli, and Wynton Marsalis. Some of his more recent albums are or contain tributes to his musical mentors and inspirations, including Niccolò Paganini, Benny Thomasson, and Grappelli.
He has appeared in some soundtracks, including that of the film The Patriot and the PBS Series Liberty! The American Revolution (his work on this appearing in his album Liberty!). He also provided the soundtrack to a 30-minute animated film on the story of Johnny Appleseed (and released the music on his 1992 album Johnny Appleseed), narrated by Garrison Keillor, and appeared in a 1993 album on the theme of The Night Before Christmas narrated by Meryl Streep. One of his most popular compositions, Appalachia Waltz (appearing on the album of the same title), has been adopted by Yo-Yo Ma as part of his recording repertoire. O'Connor is also well known for his unusual ability to play the fiddle while riding a skateboard, and hosts an annual fiddle camp (the Mark O'Connor Fiddle Camp) in San Diego, California.