Americana Symphony Press & Mentions

Americana Symphony

December 01, 2006

Americana Symphony

"Love your Americana Symphony and your Concerto #6 CD- it's dynamite!" - Pulitzer Prize Winning Composer, Joseph Schwantner

"a monumental work...inevitably will be compared to Copland" - Associated Press

"as unrepentantly tonal, accessibly melodic and sonically spacious as a great Elmer Bernstein film score" - Los Angeles Times

"This is one of the most enjoyable contemporary orchestral CD's heard in quite some time." - - The Classical Music Network

"the six-movement Americana Symphony, and what a thrill it is" -

"Mark O'Connor provides his answer to a question that has intrigued U. S. composers since the debut of Dvorak's New World Symphony in 1892: "How do you write the great American Symphony?" - David Wallace- Juilliard School

"Americana Symphony" may well be regarded one day as one of this country's great gifts to the classical music canon, as well as being a pivotal moment in the rise of the new American classical music" - David McGee (Spin, Rolling Stone,,

"One might have expected little more than warmed-over Copland, but the results are actually highly listenable. Anyone who has enjoyed O'Connor's work with Ma and Meyer will greet this new work with interest." - All Music Guide

"O'Connor's "Americana Symphony," subtitled "Variations on Appalachia Waltz," is as unrepentantly tonal, accessibly melodic and sonically spacious as a great Elmer Bernstein film score. As in most of his work, themes develop, mutate and transform with complex passage work that often incorporates bent notes or pulsing rhythms drawn from jazz, country, folk and blues sources."
March 15th, 2009 – Randy Lewis, Los Angeles Times Read Full Article Here

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“A hit!” - Marin Alsop

"The form of variations on O'Connor's own haunting "Appalachia Waltz" was compelling evidence that O'Connor's mastery continues to mature." - Metro Santa Cruz

"an infectious hoedown" - San Francisco Classical Voice

"Its impassioned writing is triggered by the evocative and rich melody of O'Connor's excellent fiddle work, Appalachia Waltz." - The Sacramento Bee

“With the Americana Symphony, Mark O'Connor provides his answer to a question that has intrigued U. S. composers since the debut of Dvorak's New World Symphony in 1892: "How do you write the great American Symphony?"
This symphony [Americana Symphony] was just premiered by conductor Marin Alsop at the Cabrillo Festival of Contemporary Music on August 3rd in Santa Cruz, CA to ovations that lasted for several minutes.  The work was commissioned by a consortium of 20 American orchestras and composed in part as a challenge to O'Connor from several conductors who said he should attempt to write "the Great American Symphony."  (These conductors contended that while there were many worthy symphonies being written by noted contemporary American composers, most of these works were indistinguishable from works by their European and Asian counterparts; in essence, these works did not really sound "American" . . .  in other words, in the minds of these conductors, American symphonic music has reverted back to the cultural situation of the 1890s, and new, representative American styles must be explored.)  O'Connor's Symphony No. 1 is a strong, contemporary answer to the same challenge Dvorak faced, and students will be able to perceive similar tools and approaches in O'Connor's work.  There are also a number of personal parallels (e.g. Dvorak was a fiddler, etc.)”
– David Wallace, D.M.A., Graduate Studies / Literature & Materials of Music Faculty, The Juilliard School, Senior Teaching Artist, the New York Philharmonic

"For more than 400 years there was little cross-pollination between classical violin playing and American fiddling. That's where Mark O'Connor comes in.
He's helped bridge that historic gap by establishing a whole new musical style on the violin, and by composing works like his new "Americana Symphony" and his "Old Brass" concerto, which enhance the flavor of American classical music."
April 28 2009
– Julie Amacher, Minnesota Public Radio Listen to Full Interview Here

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"I don't remember being impressed by so masterly a demonstration of orchestral, compositional, or polyphonic technique in the first of O'Connor's works for violin and orchestra that I heard - "The Fiddle Concerto" - though it seemed heartening that at last a violinist had attempted to compose a concerto for his own use. Warmly recommended."
– Robert Maxham, FanFare Magazine, May/June 2009 Read Full Article Here

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"Conducted by Marin Alsop and performed by the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra it is a moving, evocative, tremendously ambitious addition to the modern classical canon and further confirmation of the admiration and creative fellowship he's enjoyed with contemporary masters like Yo Yo Ma and Edgar Meyer, as well as further evidence that the guy can handle and excel at everything from salty sailor reels to swing jazz to commercial country and every damn thing in between and beyond......As each movement unfolds, the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra sounds like they're discovering the new land too, with the string sections dramatic turns capturing the feeling of each new challenge. By the final movement, "Splendid Horizons," the hope of finally arriving on the Pacific coast is almost palpable. O'Connor has confronted his own musical destiny, and given us a chance to hear a person who found a new future."
– Dennis Cook, Read Full Article Here


"Like a page out of Walt Whitman, the piece is sincere and passionate and aims to be nothing less than a song of America itself. Its coloristic effects are frequently imaginative. Witness the fifth movement: a repeating theme that begins on the basses - and how strange and eerie this sounded Saturday night - and gradually spreads through the orchestra and creates a powerful sense of something taking flight." Read Full Article Here

"Based upon O'Connor's own chamber piece Appalachia Waltz, the symphony provides a fascinating aural narrative of the 19th century expansionist era, encompassing the journey from the eastern mountains to the grandeur of the western territory; and on another level perhaps reflects the composer's own progression from his adolescent triumphs in folk fiddle competitions to the world of classical music, all told in six movements of increasing complexity. .......Given the symphony's bold rhythms, playfully aggressive percussive writing, and brightly shining brass, comparisons to Copland are inevitable, but also deceivingly facile – the American idiom brings its similarities, but the voice is entirely O'Connor's own." Read Full Article Here

“...congratulations again on the premiere of the is a big step, a major move, and a tremendous amount of work.  You're right, not many people realize the immensity of the project. But, boy, I can certainly appreciate it.”– Jennifer Higdon, composer
– Gary Panetta, The Journal Star

updated 3 years ago