Violinist-composer Mark O’Connor looks back in his ‘Crossing Bridges’

Add the role of memoirist to the long list of milestones achieved by violinist-composer Mark O’Connor

The three-time Grammy Award winner, educator and roots music advocate has written a 400-page memoir, Crossing Bridges, that will be released in February. “The book is about my childhood years in music,” said O’Connor in a recent interview. He will perform two of his own works, String Quartet No. 3 and Strings and Threads Suite, with wife Maggie in a CSO MusicNOW concert Nov. 21.

A native of suburban Seattle, O’Connor was a prodigy, starting on the guitar at age 5 and violin at 8. At 12, he appeared at the mecca of country music, the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville. Then 25 years ago, O’Connor joined cellist Yo-Yo Ma and bass Edgar Meyer for the best-selling crossover disc, “Appalachian Waltz” (Sony Classical), followed two years later by the equally popular “Appalachian Journey.” Both discs cemented his worldwide recognition as a leading exponent of a new American music idiom. 

This fall, he’s also performing a Christmas tour, and to help promote those concerts, he has released a roots version of J.S. Bach’s “Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring,” out Dec. 9 on Spotify, Apple Music and other services.

“I have a few big projects coming out early next year,” O’Connor said. “Maggie is a wonderful singer, so I have produced a new album of original songs I've written, and a few classics, and me singing some harmony. It is a surprisingly big production.”

It will have a companion photo book, A Musical Childhood in Pictures, with his mother’s black and white photography from his childhood years, featuring images of his mentors, including American fiddle legend Benny Thomasson and French jazz violinist Stephane Grappelli. 

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