Grammy winners perform 'Appalachia Waltz for Guitar and Violin'

March 5, 2010 10:13:57 AM PST
Two-time Grammy Award-winning classical guitarist Sharon Isbin and virtuoso violinist Mark O'Connor will perform together in for the first time in Chicago this weekend.

The renowned musicians will perform the World Premiere of O'Connor's Appalachia Waltz for Guitar and Violin. Isbin and O'Connor appear on Saturday, March 6 at 7:30 pm at the Harris Theater for Music and Dance in Millennium Park.

Acclaimed for her lyricism, technique and versatility, Isbin is considered the preeminent guitarist of our time. Her catalogue of more than 25 recordings ? spanning Baroque, Spanish/Latin to jazz-fusion ? reflects her versatility and ability to expand the guitar repertoire with some of the finest new works of the century. In 2009, Isbin released her newest CD, Journey to the New World, a voyage in song from the British Isles to the New World; the album received the 2010 Grammy Award for Best Instrumental Soloist Performance (without orchestra) and marks the first time in 43 years that a guitarist has won a second classical Grammy. The #1 Bestselling Classical CD at, iTunes, and, Journey to the New World features John Duarte's Joan Baez Suite and Mark O'Connor's Strings & Threads Suite for violin and guitar, both of which will be performed at the Harris Theater engagement.

Winner of the Madrid, Toronto, and Munich Competitions, and Guitar Player's "Best Classical Guitarist" award, Isbin gives sold-out performances throughout the world in the greatest halls including New York's Carnegie and Avery Fisher Halls, Boston's Symphony Hall, Washington D.C.'s Kennedy Center, and throughout Europe. She has appeared as soloist with over 160 orchestras, including the New York Philharmonic, National Symphony, Baltimore, Detroit, Houston and Dallas Symphonies. She has also appeared with the Zurich and Lausanne Chamber Orchestras, the London Symphony, Orchestre National de France, and the Jerusalem and Tokyo Symphonies; and has performed at countless festivals including Mostly Mozart, Aspen, Ravinia, Grant Park, Paris and Budapest International Festivals. In November 2009, she performed a concert at the White House by invitation of the President Barack Obama and First Lady, Michelle

A product of America's rich aural folk tradition, as well as classical and flamenco music, O'Connor has been called "one of the most talented and imaginative artists working in music today." He has been influenced by folk fiddler and innovator Benny Thomasson, who created the modern era of American fiddling in the 1940's, and French jazz violinist Stephane Grappelli. Considered one of the greatest improvisers in the history of the violin, O'Connor has melded and shaped these influences, along with a host of other musical styles and genres, into a new American Classical music and a vision of an entirely American school of string playing. As The Los Angeles Times noted, he has "crossed over so many boundaries, that his style is purely personal."

Among his recordings is the acclaimed Appalachia Waltz (1996), a collaboration with cellist Yo-Yo Ma and bassist Edgar Meyer and the follow-up release, Appalachian Journey, which received a Grammy Award in February 2001. The World Premiere performance of Appalachia Waltz for Guitar and Violin at the Harris is an adaptation of the original Appalachia Waltz and was arranged by O'Connor specifically for performance with Isbin. With more than 200 performances, his first full length orchestral score "Fiddle Concerto" (1995) has become the most-performed modern violin concerto, and in March 2009 he released the recording of his most ambitious work yet, the six-movement "Americana Symphony" (performed by the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra under conductor Marin Alsop).

Last year, O'Connor released a new method book "The O'Connor Violin Method," which evolved from the New York string camps he hosts for violin students every summer. The guide represents music from all of the Americas (Mexico, Canada and the United States) and features musical styles including classical, folk, Latin, French-Canadian jigs, jazz and ragtime.

For tickets to the Isbin and Mark O'Connor concert, visit the Harris Theater box office located in Millennium Park at 205 E. Randolph Dr.; call 312-334-7777 or visit

About the Harris Theater

Opened in 2003, the Harris Theater's mission is to partner and collaborate with an array of Chicago's emerging and mid-sized performing arts organizations to help them build the resources and infrastructure necessary to achieve artistic growth and long-term organizational sustainability. The Harris Theater for Music and Dance was the first multi-use performing arts venue to be built in the Chicago downtown area since 1929 and today the Theater continues to host the most diverse offerings of any venue in Chicago, featuring the city's world-renowned music and dance institutions and the Harris Theater Presents series of acclaimed national and international companies. To learn more about the season at the Harris Theater, visit or call the box office at 312-334-7777 to request a brochure.


Music Series Celebrating Classical Music & Awards for After School Arts, Humanities Programs

On Wednesday, November 4th the White House will continue its Music Series which was created by First Lady Michelle Obama to celebrate the arts, demonstrate the importance of arts education and to encourage young people who believe in their talent to create a future for themselves in the arts community be it as a hobby or as a profession. At 2:15 PM in the East Room Mrs. Obama will introduce a Classical Music student Workshop concert featuring Grammy Award-winning violinist Joshua Bell, Grammy Award-winning guitarist Sharon Isbin, renowned cellist Alisa Weilerstein, and acclaimed pianist Awadagin Pratt. The concert will also include child protégés Sujari Britt and Jason Yoder who will accompany Alisa Weilerstein in duets. Other music workshops will be held in the White House earlier in the afternoon focusing on violin, cello, piano and classical guitar for 120 middle and high school students from across the country.

In the evening, Joshua Bell, Sharon Isbin, Alisa Weilerstein and Awadagin Pratt will perform in the East Room where President Obama will make remarks. This concert will be streamed live on and rebroadcast on Sirius XM Radio's Symphony Hall Channel over the weekend.