Denison's Vail Series Opens 21st Season With Acclaimed 'Fiddler' Duo
Posted: October 16, 2000
GRANVILLE - Denison University's Vail Series opens its 21st season at 8 p.m. on Friday (Oct. 20) in Swasey Chapel with a joint recital featuring acclaimed violinists Rachel Barton and Mark O'Connor. Making their debut appearance as joint-recitalists, these two artists come from completely opposite musical directions. Classically trained Barton recently mastered the fiddling technique, while O'Connor, internationally renowned fiddle champion in Bluegrass and Texas Swing, is establishing himself as a celebrated composer and performer in the classical style. The term "crossover" was meant for this event.
A native of Chicago, Barton began violin studies at age three and made her professional debut four years later with the Chicago String Ensemble. The now 24-year-old Barton has appeared as soloist with many prestigious ensembles including the Chicago Symphony, the St. Louis Symphony, the Dallas Symphony, the Vienna Symphony and the Belgian National Orchestra among others. She continues to play chamber music with the Chicago String Trio and as a guest artist with such groups as the Orion Chamber ensemble and the Pacifica String Quartet.
Barton holds prizes from many of the world's leading competitions including the gold medal at the 1992 Quadrennial J.S. Bach International Violin Competition in Leipzig, Germany, becoming the first American and youngest artist to do so. Other top honors came from the Queen Elisabeth (Brussels, 1993), Kriesler (Vienna, 1992), Szigeti (Budapest, 1992) and Montreal (1991) international violin competitions, as well as many national and regional competitions.
Barton appeared as a torchbearer in the 1996 Olympic torch relay and later was featured as soloist with members of the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra for the opening ceremonies of the Paralympic Games at Centennial Olympic Stadium in Atlanta.
O'Connor is a Grammy Award winner, and has appeared at The White House, the Presidential Inauguration Celebration and the ceremonies of Atlanta's Centennial Olympic Games for which he composed "Olympic Reel." He is often featured on major network television shows, and past appearances include "Great Performances" on PBS, the "Kennedy Center Honors" and America's celebration of Israel's 50th birthday televised on CBS.
Thirty-eight year old O'Connor premiered his newest commission, "The American Seasons: Seasons of an American Life," at the Troy Savings Bank Music Hall in Troy, N.Y., in April of 2000. His current album, "Fanfare for the Volunteer," recorded with the London Symphony Orchestra under the baton of Steven Mercurio, was released by Sony Classical in October 1999. O'Connor's compositions are frequently embraced by a variety of performers including Yo-Yo Ma and the New York City Ballet and Hubbard Street Dance Chicago. With more than 150 performances, his "Fiddle Concerto No. 1" has become the most-performed modern violin concerto.
He is founder of the internationally recognized Mark O'Connor Fiddle Camps held twice yearly near Nashville, Tenn. The camps routinely draw participants from across the U.S. and Canada, as well as from Europe, South America and Asia. O'Connor now resides in San Diego, Calif. with his wife and two children.
Associate Professor Andrew Carlson will make a cameo performance with Barton and O'Connor. A frequent performer at Denison, he joined the faculty last fall and currently teaches violin, music history, and directs the Baroque Orchestra. A traditional fiddler since age five, Carlson has twice been named the Georgia State Champion Fiddler and was recently crowned the 2000 Ohio Grand Champion Fiddler. His book "Fiddling for Classical Violinists" is nearing release.
Other Vail Series events at Denison this year are:
Denison's Vail Series, made possible by a generous gift from the late Foster and Mary McGaw in memory of Jeanne Vail, a 1946 alumna, is part of the Vail Program that provides the University with a range of support for fine arts activities, including art history, cinema, dance, music, studio art and theatre. Each year the program underwrites performances by major artists through the Vail Series and provides for one or more Vail artists-in-residence who work with faculty and students to expand and enrich the cultural opportunities at Denison.
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