Mark O'Connor has mastered the distinctly American, strangely poignant art of the country fiddler -- and, at the same time, he has classical grace and virtuosity. He has a tremendous regard for the bittersweet rags, polkas and reels, Stephen Foster ballads and folk melodies that make up America's rich history. He pays tribute to them on his newest CD, "American Classics." (See review on Page 20.)
O'Connor's own compositions mirror the music he loves. He dazzled our area three years agowhen he played his whirlwind Fiddle Concerto with the Orchard Park Symphony. This weekend, he is coming to Kleinhans Music Hall, to join the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra in a performance of his Improvised Violin Concerto. Commissioned by the Boston Youth Symphony Orchestra, this new concerto was premiered in Boston just a week ago. If it is anything like the Fiddle Concerto he played here last time, it should be lively and colorful.
The concerto is the centerpiece of a program that also features Four Dance Episodes from Aaron Copland's "Rodeo"; Roy Harris' one-movement Symphony No. 3; and John Adams' "Lollapalooza." Associate Conductor Matthew Kraemer conducts.
This festival of Americana takes place at 8 p.m. Saturday and 2:30 p.m. Sunday. For info visit www.bpo.org.
-- Mary Kunz Goldman