Ventura Music Festival – Ventura CA

MC25- Mark & Maggie O’Connor

From Executive Director Susan Scott

Dear Friends,

Mark O’Connor is a renowned composer, violin player and guitarist whose early teachers and mentors included a legendary Texas fiddler, a French jazz violin legend and, for guitar, the impeccable Chet Akins. Given these splendid musical extremes, it’s not surprising that by the time O’Connor played the Ventura Music Festival in 2003, he was already celebrated for creating “a new American Classical music” integrating American folk and classical and demonstrated gloriously in his lauded 2001 recording of Appalachian Waltz with Yo-Yo Ma and Edgar Meyer.

For his 2003 Festival appearance, O’Connor brought his Hot Swing Trio and dedicated the program to one of his early teacher-mentors, French jazz violin legend Stephane Grappelli, with whom he toured as a teenager. For his second Festival appearance in 2011, he presented the O’Connor String Quartet and a Bluegrass “old time” program. Given the diverse music influences and programs, the Los Angeles Times may have stated it best when writing that (O’Connor has) “crossed over so many boundaries that his style is purely personal.”

This takes us to O’Connor’s present iteration: Duo. As Mark tells us in his message, he and talented violinist Maggie met, fell in love and became a performing and married Duo in fairly short order. When Covid hit and all paid gigs disappeared, they began live-streaming from home each Monday for a modest ticket charge. I plan to drop in on their concert next week. For now, you can hear them on MC25 in a stunning rendition of Jerusalem Ridge.

One of the video’s commenters wrote that: “Fiddle playing of this caliber gives me goosebumps.” You may or may not get bumps, but you do want to give a listen. It is – they are – amazing.