GRAMMY-winning violinist/composer Mark O'Connor recently visited The Recording Academy's headquarters in Santa Monica, Calif., to participate in an exclusive GRAMMY.com interview. O'Connor discussed performing versus composing, the current state of music education and his series of educational books, O'Connor Method, among other topics.
"I was really born to compose. I love the creativity aspects of music," said O'Connor. "I think without the music that I write, or play, I wouldn't be half as much as what I am as a player. And I think my compositions inspire me to play better."
O'Connor's musical career began as a teenager when he was mentored by American fiddler Benny Thomasson and jazz violinist and Recording Academy Lifetime Achievement Award recipient Stéphane Grappelli. Skilled in styles spanning country, bluegrass, classical, and jazz, O'Connor garnered his first GRAMMY Award in 1991 for Best Country Instrumental Performance for The New Nashville Cats. Subsequent albums followed, including 1993's Heroes and 1996's Appalachia Waltz, the latter a collaboration with GRAMMY-winning classical artists cellist Yo-Yo Ma and bassist Edgar Meyer. O'Connor teamed with Ma and Meyer again on 2000's Appalachian Journey, which topped Billboard's Classical Albums chart and garnered the trio a GRAMMY for Best Classical Crossover Album. In 2009 O'Connor developed O'Connor Method, a series of 10 books intended to teach students classic violin technique and theory. The method has been adapted by institutions such as the Berklee College of Music in Boston. Drawing on classical, country, jazz, and folk, in February O'Connor released American Classics, which includes a rendition of the standard "America The Beautiful" and his original composition "Rain Clouds."