Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

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October 28, 2009

Audio Slide Show: A musical legacy

Passing it on is important to world-renowned violinist

One of the leading violinists in the world was in Ashland on Tuesday to perform with a group of college students.

Mark O’Connor, whose career has spanned musical genres ranging from classical to country, played a concert at the Paramount Arts Center with the University of Kentucky Symphony Orchestra, under the direction of conductor John Nardolillo, as part of his weeklong residency at the UK School of Music.

The performance is one of two planned as part of the residency. The other will be Friday at the Singletary Center for the Arts in Lexington.

In a backstage interview prior to the performance at the Paramount, the 48-year-old O’Connor — who was born in Seattle and lives in New York City — said residencies like the one he’s doing at UK were his way of passing along some of the things he has learned throughout his career with a generation of younger musicians.

“I really love playing with orchestras, and also love the educational aspects of it, being able to interact with the students and share with them my musical journey,” he said.

O’Connor said he also enjoyed playing with younger musicians because they tend to have a “creative energy” that drives him. In fact, he said he tended to gravitate toward players less than half his age in his own ensembles.

O’Connor said his collaboration with UK came about as a result of him having worked in the past with Nardolillo. He appeared in February with the UK Symphony Orchestra at the Kennedy Center for the Arts in Washington, D.C., as part of the “Our Lincoln” concert presented by the Kentucky Humanities Council.

Tuesday’s concert featured several of O’Connor’s original compositions. He said the students in the orchestra began working on his music in preparation for his residency in March.

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