The warmth of the holidays – Appalachian style

Fiddler Mark O’Connor and Friends come to the Quick Center on December 7

Violinist Mark O’ConnorGrammy Award-winning violinist Mark O’Connor, hailed as “one of the most talented and imaginative artists working in music” (Los Angeles Times), will bring a charming concert of beloved holiday standards to Fairfield University’s Regina A. Quick Center for the Arts at 3 p.m. on Sunday, December 7, 2014. “Mark O’Connor and Friends: An Appalachian Christmas” will also feature Joe Smart (guitar), Michael Rinne (bass) and vocalists Carrie Rodriguez (fiddle, tenor guitar), Cia Cherryholmes Adkisson (banjo) and O’Connor’s son Forrest O’Connor (mandolin).

The afternoon’s program will showcase tunes from O’Connor’s latest album, “An Appalachian Christmas,” which includes “Sleigh Ride,” “Away in a Manger,” “Carol of the Bells,” and more. Tickets are $55, $45 and $40. The performance is sponsored, in part, by Sheaffer and The Westport Inn.

Mark O’Connor is a multi-Grammy winning American jazz, folk, classical violinist/composer and author. His orchestral concertos and symphonies have received more than 500 performances around the country, and his million-seller “Appalachia Waltz” is one of the most loved string pieces since Barber's “Adagio.” A product of America's rich aural folk tradition as well as classical music, O'Connor's creative journey began at the feet of a pair of musical giants. The first was the folk fiddler and innovator who created the modern era of American fiddling, Benny Thomasson; the second, French jazz violinist, considered one of the greatest improvisers in the history of the violin, Stephane Grappelli. Now, at age 53, O’Connor has shaped a new American Classical music, and a vision of an entirely American school of string playing. As The Los Angeles Times recently noted, he has “crossed over so many boundaries, that his style is purely personal.”

O'Connor is also an eloquent spokesman for the role of the arts in society and a keen observer of the evolution of American music. The O'Connor Method – A New American School of String Playing has joined the Suzuki method as the most popular method to learn from around the country as students respond to the cultural proximity of the American musical material featured in the Method. The groundbreaking method is the first violin method to feature all American music and has been hailed by teachers from across the country as filling a significant gap in classical music education.

Joining O’Connor on fiddle and tenor guitar will be Carrie Rodriguez, who has played, recorded and written with Lucinda Williams, John Prine, Alejandro Escovedo and many others. Austin, Texas-born, she was raised in a musical family and made her solo debut in 2006 with “Seven Angels on a Bicycle.”

Cia Cherryholmes Adkisson is best known for her work with the five-time Grammy-nominated band Cherryholmes, which enjoyed a No. 1 debut album spot in 2010 for their Cherryholmes IV project. USA Today has described her as “bluegrass’ most stunning new female singer,” and Time Out New York called her a “future star.”

Forrest O’Connor first picked up the mandolin at age 13, teaching himself bluegrass and fiddle tunes. After graduating from Harvard in 2010, he began writing, singing and performing, both solo and with the David Gallagher Band, as well as with Melissa Ferrick and his father. In March, he won the Tennessee State Mandolin Championship and he is now a founding member of the country pop trio Wisewater.

Joe Smart, an award-winning multi-instrumentalist is the 2005 winner of the National Flatpick Guitar Championship, who has played with Barbara Lamb, John Cowan and T. Graham Brown, among others. He is also a member of the country band Brewer’s Grade.

Michael Rinne has recorded with Jack White and Alicia Keys and toured European jazz festivals with The Chester Thompson Trio. One of the most versatile young musicians in Nashville today, he toured the country with Rodney Crowell’s band and has collaborated with Steuart Smith of The Eagles and Shannon McNally.

Tickets are available through the Quick Center Box Office at (203) 254-4010, or toll-free 1-877-ARTS-396 (1-877-278-7396) or online at

The Regina A. Quick Center for the Arts is located on the campus of Fairfield University at 1073 North Benson Road in Fairfield, Connecticut. Entrance to the Quick Center is through the Barlow Road gate at 200 Barlow Road. Free, secure parking is available. Access for people with disabilities is available throughout the Quick Center for audience members and performers. Hearing amplification devices are available upon request at the Box Office. Fairfield University is located off exit 22 of Interstate 95. For further information and directions, call (203) 254-4010 or 1-877-278-7396, or visit

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Media Contact: Meredith Guinness, (203) 254-4000, ext. 2950,

Posted on November 18, 2014

Vol. 47, No. 113

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