He’s not just a fiddler, although he is proud to be one. He is not just a classical guitarist and violin virtuoso. He’s not just a composer, he’s not just a teacher and coach and he’s not just an expert on American music.

Mark O’Connor – who started playing guitar at five and violin at 11 and was a national champion and recording artist by age 13 – is not content being defined by or confined to one of those avocations, and while in Johnson City April 18-21, he will be sharing all of those talents and his musical secrets with East Tennessee State University students and faculty, as well as the community.

“I do have a lot of music secrets,” O’Connor says. “But I have always wanted to share them, as much as I could. I am not a full-time teacher, but rather I share that job description with being a recording artist, a composer and a concert performer (soloist with orchestra and bandleader) and now an author. I think all of these experiences and these settings I have succeeded in, give me a very good vantage point in training the next generation of 21st century string players over the previous methods.”

Sponsored by ETSU’s Mary B. Martin School of the Arts and Bluegrass, Old-Time and Country Music Studies, O’Connor’s skills will be used in a wide spectrum of ways.

On Wednesday, April 18, O’Connor spent some time coaching ETSU’s Bluegrass Pride Band, then they gathered on The Down Home stage for a faculty all-star jam with the guest musician.

Faculty and graduates of the ETSU program expected at the jam include Adam Steffey, Brandon Green, Danny Stewart, Jeremy Fritts, Dave Yates and Hunter Berry.

In the evening on Wednesday, O’Connor presented a 90-minute training workshop for area fiddle and violin teachers.

He will focus on the students, rather than the teachers on Thursday, April 19, in a Fiddler’s Master Class, 9:45-11:05 a.m. in ETSU’s Nicks Hall, room 225.

Students are preparing a number of O’Connor’s arrangements, but the public is welcome to act as audience and peripheral learners, says Mary B. Martin School of the Arts Director Anita DeAngelis.

The general public is also invited to absorb the music education on Thursday afternoon, from 2:15-3:45 p.m., when O’Connor presents a lecture and demonstration on American music in ETSU’s Brown Hall, room 206.

“I will speak about American music as a music system that was ‘developed’ by its practitioners through individual expression and experimentation,” says O’Connor, who is a Seattle native, but a Tennessee transplant who lived in Tennessee for 15 years around the 1990s.

“Musical culture was established uniting communities and racial groups through sharing repertoire, techniques, styles and cultural backgrounds,” he says.

Then on Saturday, April 21, O’Connor and fellow violinist Kelly Hall-Tompkins will expand the musical cultural landscape as guest artists for the Annual Mary B. Martin Memorial Concert by the Johnson City Symphony Orchestra at 7:30 p.m. in Mary B. Martin Auditorium, Seeger Chapel, Milligan College.

The concert will include a mix of Appalachian, jazz and bluegrass music, as well as a performance that will include O’Connor’s newest violin work, the Double Violin Concerto.

O’Connor’s compositions are in a genre he calls “new American classical music,” which includes a seven-movement commissioned symphony, he told Crossover radio host Jill Pasternak last year.

Whether he is standing on the fiddle side, the violin side, or the composer’s or bandleader’s side of the music stand or podium, O’Connor has his own style and perspective and even his own method – The O’Connor Method, which he is now marketing as a violin curriculum.

Part of the mission of Mary B. Martin School of the Arts is to bring and/or support a diverse spectrum of arts events for the Northeast Tennessee region, says DeAngelis, so O’Connor’s wide array of skills, interests and knowledge are an exciting addition to an already diverse season.

“With Mark O’Connor’s palette of abilities, we can entertain, educate and engage so many people in so many ways in a relatively short time. He is almost a season-worth of events in one person and week. We are so thrilled to be able to bring him back to East Tennessee and keep him here a short while.”

To reserve tickets for the JCSO concert, call 423-926-8742.

For information about the O’Connor events, contact the ETSU Mary B. Martin School of the Arts at 423-439-TKTS (8587) or the Bluegrass, Old-Time and Country Music program at 423-928-8742.

For more about MBMSOTA, please visit www.etsu.edu/cas/arts.