American String Celebration

American String Celebration

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The Mark O'Connor String Camps in Tennessee, Massachusetts, New York and California are the inspirations for Mark's American String Celebration, an evening of richly mixed musical styles featuring fiddle and violin stars from the world-renowned events Mark has created.
Mark O'Connor has gathered some of this country's most talented and lauded young players for a joyous concert featuring classical, jazz, mountain, Celtic, old-time and Texas-style fiddling.  All of the evening's musicians have appeared, taught and performed at Mark's camps.  A couple of the players started attending the events as children and have, literally "grown up" at the Mark O'Connor Fiddle Camps.

Welcome to our program this evening. About 18 years ago I began a week-long event deep in the hills of Tennessee. It is called The Mark O'Connor String Camp. From out of these annual meetings saw the participation of many talented young people who now have come in to their own as great fiddlers, violinists, artists, and teachers at my camps. Some of the these musicians are here to perform for you tonight.

What we have put together is what one could find at a single concert evening at the Camp. Various players, and playing styles share center stage giving the listeners a new experience in the range and depth of string playing in America today.

The most recent American String Celebration concerts featured Ivonne Hernandez, Billy Conteras, Kelly Hall-Tompkins, Gillian Gallagher, Patrice Jackson and Hans Holzen.

American String Celebration REVIEW

Mark O'Connor's Fiddle Celebration at the Ogle Center

On Saturday, November 4, violinist/fiddler Mark O'Connor brought his "Fiddle Celebration" to the Ogle Center at Indiana University Southeast in New Albany (across the river from Louisville, for those readers out of the area). Fortunately, I was able to take my just-turned-eight daughters to the first of two performances, a 4 p.m. matinee, so that we could enjoy live music together without bedtime issues. O'Connor has developed a week-long Fiddle Camp in Tennessee, but the name is a bit misleading. Just as O'Connor himself is a past master of styles ranging from bluegrass to Western classical to jazz and beyond, so too do his camps attract students who embrace all genres of music. The "Fiddle Celebration" featured players who have all been students and or instructors and both individually and collectively they made a fine advertisement for the camp. The violinists were: Janet Sung, Sara Caswell, Tashina Clarridge, Jeremy Kittel, with Nat Smith (cello), Hans Holzen (guitar) and Kyle Kegerreis (bass).

The performance began with everyone performing round robin on a piece aptly introduced as "mountain music meets classical." The format switched to allow each musician to showcase his/her talents, beginning with Kittel playing "Taking It On" and "The Curious Beetle." Jazz was featured next, with 12-year-old cellist Smith improvising superbly on Charlie Parker's "Scrapple from the Apple." Janet Sung performed a classical piece next, providing an elegant and disciplined change of pace from the preceding numbers. Jazz was spotlighted again as Caswell gave a fresh interpretation of the standard "Bye Bye Blackbird." O'Connor came back onstage for "Lime House" and a piece he wrote for the recently deceased jazz violinist Claude "Fiddler" Williams, "Fiddler Going Home." The finale brought all the players back onstage for "Olympic Reel Medley," during which O'Connor's solo took a decidedly bluesy turn. O'Connor has long been a Louisville favorite, going back to his eclectic early "Lonesome Pine Special" performances to his recent "Hot Swing Trio" concert last October (reviewed here in November, 2005).
-Martin Z. Kasdan, Louisville Music News

updated: 3 years ago