Having the opportunity to share some of the details about performances I get to experience is one of the best things about my job! I only wish you could have been there too. Nonetheless, I hope when you see some of the groups I review come to your town, you can seize the opportunity to enjoy them for yourself.
On December 22, 2015, we went to one of the nicest venues in our vicinity, The Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall. Here we got to “Meet” Mr O’Connor with his family and friends. Here is the roster:
- Mark O’Connor, violin
- Maggie O’Connor, violin
- Kate Lee, vocals/violin
- Cia Cherryholmes, vocals/banjo
- Forrest O’Connor, vocals/mandolin
- Joe Smart, guitar
- Michael Rinne, bass
Side Note: Lets define the instrument itself. A fiddle is essentially the same instrument as a violin. The fiddle emerged in tenth century Europe. What may differentiate fiddle playing from classical violin is the kind of music that is played. Fiddling tends to be used in Folk or traditional music. As you might expect, different geographic areas or countries have notable musical characteristics. Now, interestingly, as there are definite differences in the regional flavors of fiddling, there are also many similarities. For that reason, when I hear “Appalachian” style fiddling, I hear roots that travel back in time and across the globe.
The set list was comprised of many traditional Christmas tunes and some original compositions. The arrangements were seasoned with that, “Appalachian” flavor that has bits of Bluegrass, swing, gospel, country, old-time music and undeniable old world foundations. There was a well thought out selection of upbeat tunes, as well as a variety of slower tempos to keep it interesting.
The violin playing was precise and perfectly synchronized. The vocalists had exquisite yet different qualities that blended together very nicely. The guitar, banjo and mandolin provided a beautiful combination of adornments and essential structural contributions. Lastly the bass was the key element that gave the groove life, as there were no other percussion instruments. Michael Rinne did a solid job with very little soloing compared to the other musicians, but it was what the music needed to come together as well as it did.
Here are some samples
And in general….
One of the most notable aspects of the night was the palpable love of music and the desire to share with the world both in the way of this live performance as well a serious commitment to educating future generations so as they might carry the torch after we are all gone. Mark has a whole series of educational resources in the way of books (he has his own method), local teachers, camps and his website.
We were fortunate to catch the last Christmas show of the season, but I am confident that next year, there will be more. Make sure you see this group if you can as it is equally rewarding to musicians as well as the general public and is an excellent way to get into the holiday spirit.
Special Thanks to All Classical Portland for making this concert possible!
For more information about Michael Rinne and Mark O’Connor, visit online: