McNeese Banners series opens with O’Connor String Quartet

By Special to the American Press

Grammy Award-winner Mark O’Connor and his String Quartet are ready to kick off the McNeese State University Banners Cultural

Series at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 23, in McNeese’s F.G. Bulber Auditorium.

Quartet members include: Mark O’Connor, violin; Kelly Hall-Tompkins, violin; Gillian Gallagher, viola; and Patrice Jackson,


O’Connor is a multi Grammy

Award-winning composer, violinist and fiddler and has sold 2 million CDs

as a solo artist. He collaborated

with Yo-Yo Ma and Edgar Meyer on “Appalachia Waltz,” and the works

O’Connor composed for the disc, including its title track,

gained him worldwide recognition as a leading proponent of a new

American musical idiom. The tremendously successful follow-up

release, “Appalachian Journey,” received a Grammy Award.

At age 13, he was the youngest person

ever to win the Grand Master Fiddler Championships competing against all

ages, amateur

and professional. Thirty-seven years later, his record still

stands. O’Connor is still the only person to ever win national

titles (open to all ages) on fiddle, bluegrass guitar and mandolin

and he won an unprecedented six Country Music Association

Musician of the Year Awards in a row. He has played as a member of

several bands — the David Grisman Quintet, The Dregs, Strength

in Numbers, The American Music Shop house band and New Nashville

Cats. He became the most in-demand session musician of any

instrument and in any genre for a three-year period, appearing on

more top 10 hits in the country, recording over 500 albums.

The O’Connor String Quartet is the

first of 20 performances and lectures included in the 2013 Banners

Series season. Performances

will continue through May 4.

Tickets to individual performances will

be available at the door at $20 for adults, $5 for students and free to

McNeese and

Sowela students with IDs. Lectures are free to the public. People

can join by calling the Banners office at 337-475-5123 or

visiting the Banners website at