Gala Season Opening Concert to Feature Grammy Award-Winning Composer and Violinist

by News Bureau on Monday, Sep. 26, 2011

CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo., Sept. 26, 2011 — The Southeast Missouri Symphony Orchestra will present its Gala Season Opening Concert on Tuesday, Oct. 11, with a program featuring the Grammy Award-winning artist, Mark O’Connor.

The concert is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. in the Donald C. Bedell Performance Hall at Southeast Missouri State University’s River Campus.

O’Connor’s spectacular career has included commercial sales of over 2 million CDs, brilliant collaborations with such luminaries as Yo Yo Ma, Edgar Meyer and Renee Fleming, and worldwide acclaim for his spellbinding performances and heartfelt musical compositions.

The Southeast Missouri Symphony will open the program with two movements from Aaron Copland’s Ballet Suite, “Billy the Kid.” Written in 1938, this ballet depicts the life of the famous American outlaw, Billy the Kid, who lived in a small American frontier town in the 1800s. With its lively dances and sweeping depiction of the American prairie, this immensely popular ballet continues to enchant audiences today.

The Southeast Missouri Symphony will then be joined by Mark O’Connor, violinist, and Patrice Jackson, cellist, in a performance of O’Connor’s Double Concerto, “For the Heroes.” This work was written in response to the tragic events of Sept. 11, 2001, and is a celebration of the American spirit. Rather than dark or somber in tone, it is full of energy and brilliance, expressed in the virtuosic writing for the two soloists and the full sonorities of a large symphony orchestra.

After the intermission, the concert will continue with O’Connor’s marvelous work for full symphonic orchestra, his “Americana Symphony.” This work is based on O’Connor’s signature tune, “Appalachia Waltz,” which is woven in and out of the various contrasting moods and movements of the symphony.

The program will conclude with O’Connor as soloist with the symphony in his acclaimed concerto for violin and orchestra, the “Fiddle Concerto.” Named one of the top 10 classical CDs when first released in the 1990s, the “Fiddle Concerto” is the most performed of any violin concerto written in the last 50 years. For this concert, O’Connor will perform the Third Movement of the “Fiddle Concerto” with an extended improvised cadenza.

The two soloists for this evening’s concert, O’Connor and Patrice Jackson, are notable performing artists.

O’Connor is an American bluegrass, jazz, country and classical violinist, fiddler, composer and music teacher. His music is wide-ranging and critically acclaimed. His accomplishments include two Grammy Awards, eight Grammy nominations, six CMA awards, including “Musician of the Year,” seven National & Grand Master fiddling championships, two National Guitar championships and the World Mandolin Championship. He is also an eloquent spokesman for the role of the arts in society and a keen observer of the evolution of the music business.

O’Connor is a native of Seattle, Wash., and is widely regarded as the preeminent exponent of traditional American music. As a teenager, he won many national string instrument championships for his virtuoso playing of the guitar and mandolin as well as the fiddle. His mentors include the legendary fiddler, Benny Thomasson, French jazz violinist Stéphane Grappelli, with whom O’Connor toured, and guitarist Chet Atkins.

O’Connor’s work as a composer has put him in a class by himself. With his work on Ken Burns film projects, the celebrated “Appalachian Journey” album recorded with Yo Yo Ma and Edgar Meyer, and his many classical compositions, O’Connor is leveraging his deep knowledge of indigenous American musical styles to reinvent American classical music.

The brilliant and gifted young cellist, Jackson, is carving a name for herself as a talented and charismatic young soloist. A native of St. Louis, Jackson began piano lessons with her mother at the age of three and cello lessons with her father at the age of eight. At 13, she made her debut with the Belleville Philharmonic Orchestra, performing the Elgar Cello Concerto.

In 2002, Jackson was awarded first place in the Senior Laureate Division of the nationally renowned Sphinx Competition and was the recipient of the 2002 Yale University Aldo Parisot Prize awarded to a “gifted cellist who shows promise for a concert career.” Since then she has performed with the Atlanta, Detroit, Dallas, New Jersey, Milwaukee, Omaha, Cincinnati, St. Louis, Grand Rapids, Nashville, Hartford, Chautauqua, Colorado and Mississippi symphonies, as well as with the Philadelphia Orchestra. Jackson also made her international orchestral and recital debuts in South Africa in 2002. Highlights of the 2008-2009 season included performances with the Chicago Sinfonietta and the Lima Symphony.

Jackson has won numerous competitions and awards throughout her career, including the Alton Symphony Orchestra/Merie Stillwell Solo Competition, University City Symphony Orchestra Young Artist Competition, Laclede String Quartet Solo Competition and Laclede String Quartet Chamber Music Competition. She has spent several summers studying chamber and solo repertoire at the prestigious Quartet Program, the Kneisel Hall Chamber Music Festival and the Banff Center for the Arts.

Tickets are on Sale Now.

Tickets may be purchased by contacting the River Campus Box Office, located in the Cultural Arts Center, 518 S. Fountain St., weekdays from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., by calling (573) 651-2265, or online at rivercampusevents.com.