Lawrence Toppman

Mark O’Connor will be Charlotte Symphony’s first artist in residence

Mark O’Connor, seen here while leading a class for violin teachers this summer at Midwood International Cultural Center, has been named artist in residence with the Charlotte Symphony Orchestra.
Mark O’Connor, seen here while leading a class for violin teachers this summer at Midwood International Cultural Center, has been named artist in residence with the Charlotte Symphony Orchestra. jsimmons@charlotteobserver.com

Mark O’Connor has let no dust settle on his bow since landing in Charlotte with wife Maggie this summer, but no day has been more newsworthy than Dec. 7.

The O’Connor Band, which he formed with violinist Maggie and four other musicians, played its first local concert at McGlohon Theater. It also earned a Grammy nomination for best bluegrass album with its debut recording, “Coming Home” on Rounder Records. And on the same day, the Charlotte Symphony Orchestra named him the first artist in residence in its eight-decade history.

The residency will cover the 2017-18 season and include performances across three of the CSO’s core series – Classical, altsounds and Pops – as well as an artistic partnership with music director Christopher Warren-Green.

“This is a big win for the Charlotte Symphony and our entire surrounding music community,” said symphony president and CEO Mary Deissler. “There are many synergies between Mark’s style and the Charlotte Symphony’s mission, and we are really excited to partner with such a high-caliber musician.”

The orchestra is no stranger to his music. It played his Fiddle Concerto, the first major piece linking Americana-style violin and a classical orchestra, in the 1990s. And the O’Connor Band will perform May 19 with Warren-Green and the CSO in the final altsounds concert of the current season, “Fiddles and Blue Jeans.”

The two O’Connors both came South to be closer to family members, and he said at the time of the move that he looked forward to a collaboration with the CSO. Details have yet to be worked out, but you can expect the orchestra to play at least one of his major classical/crossover compositions. The husband-and-wife team will also be involved in the symphony’s education initiatives, including master classes, workshops, and pre- or post-concert talks.

They’ll find out Feb. 12 whether they win that Grammy, the O’Connor Band’s first as a group. He already has two himself, for the albums “New Nashville Cats” (1992) and “Appalachian Journey” (2001).

Toppman: 704-358-5232

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