Three Questions with Mark O’Connor

Crested Butte Music Festival is taking a look behind the curtain and bringing the personalities of our artists to you, our audiences! Emily Ondracek-Peterson, co-Artistic Director of the Festival, is launching and curating a new blog series, Three Questions With…, a fast and fun look at upcoming performers throughout the Festival season.

Our first post features three questions with legendary fiddler Mark O’Connor. Mark has recorded over 45 albums and has defined the modern tradition of American Classical music. He’s recorded with the likes of Johnny Cash, Yo-Yo Ma, and Wynton Marsalis, and brings his signature musicality and creativity to every project on which he collaborates. The winner of multiple Grammy and CMA awards, we’re thrilled to welcome Mark to Crested Butte for the first time. He’ll be performing on June 28 and 29: once with his wife, Maggie, and once with his Family Band.

What is your favorite element of performing in a band with your family?

I just love it. I never thought playing with O’Connor family members on stage professionally would be in the stars for me. Performing with my wife Maggie O’Connor on violin is the greatest feeling, and along with that, playing with my son and daughter-in-law, Forrest and Kate Lee O’Connor, is extremely special too. It just so happens they can all tear it up on stage and hold their own without a single worry about it from dad or husband! They are all stars on the rise and they are all in the O’Connor Band!

Your debut album with the O’Connor Band won a Grammy Award for Best Bluegrass Album. Where do you go from there in the recording studio?

To follow up our Grammy-winning “Coming Home” this year, we decided to release “O’Connor Band Live!”, a great show we played that we got on tape in Sellersville, PA. We had been building our on-stage repertoire all year that included the album material, but so much more and we felt we had to let our new fans in on this. It is an energetic jam band sound, cross-pollinated with chamber music sophistication, happening grooves, wonderful vocals and virtuoso solos. The disc also features some of my old classic instrumental tunes too we brought in from my Strength In Numbers, New Nashville Cats era. Old fans of mine will love this album. For more info, see

You’ve created so much music – you’ve written concertos, recorded acclaimed albums with a diverse cross-section of musicians, and even created a teaching method. What drives your creative output and how do you continue creating such inspiring projects?

Ever since I was a teenager, I have had an inner drive to get the music out to folks that was just bottled up in my head. I always let the musical ideas guide each of the settings. Consequently, some of my efforts led towards an unaccompanied instrumental concert, some all the way to the symphony orchestra like my “Americana Symphony” that had a breathtaking performance last year with the NRO in Breckenridge. And some of it is geared to this blistering band we have here that also includes a National Flatpick Champ Joe Smart and Doctor of music, bassist and banjoist Geoff Saunders!

Events Featuring Mark O’Connor:

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