O'CONNOR METHOD CAMP NEW YORK CITY
O'Connor Method Camp New York City ®
In November 2002, Jonathan Cooper, a well-respected violin maker from Maine, had a wonderful idea for honoring Daniel Pearl, the violinist, fiddler and Wall Street Journal reporter who was murdered in Pakistan earlier that year. To continue Daniel’s legacy through a musical mission of peace, Jon crafted a work of art, the Daniel Pearl Memorial Violin, and presented it to composer and violinist Mark O'Connor at a Boston concert in honor of Daniel. From that initial inspiration, the array of Daniel Pearl Memorial Instruments grew, eventually becoming a quartet of uniquely beautiful stringed instruments dedicated to Danny’s memory. Two violins crafted by Cooper, as well as a cello and a viola, are now presented each year to promising young musicians by Mark O’Connor.
At the O’Connor Method Camp New York City, exceptional string students are awarded the honor to play these instruments for a year. "By passing the instruments through so many hands and playing past musical borders, we hope that the beautiful sound of these violins will help inspire listeners to live in harmony, on a peaceful planet.” –Jon Cooper.
Read more here...
Left to right: 2014 recipients Minnie Jordan, Ella Jordan, and Mary Kate English along with guest on cello perform an emotional "Appalachia Waltz" by Mark O'Connor before passing along the instruments to the new 2015 recipients.
"Using journalism as their voice, Daniel Pearl and his wife, Mariane, hoped to expose truth to the world and challenge people’s perspectives. Mariane writes, 'We believed ordinary people like us could change the world by changing the way people think about each other'. For me, music is my opportunity to change the world. What better way to change peoples’ perspectives than through something as unifying and powerful as music? Music has changed my life and brought me clarity and understanding. I feel as though I can move mountains with the gift of music. With this beautiful Cooper violin, I hope to spread messages of love, peace, and the quest to create a better world—as Daniel Pearl would have wanted."--Katherine Evans
Katherine Evans is a 20-year-old singer/songwriter from Westchester, NY. She found her passion for music at an early age—learning the violin when she was just 3 years old. At the age of 14, Katherine began writing songs and learning piano and guitar.
After her first year in the Frost School of Music, Katherine switched to the Bruce Hornsby Creative American Music songwriting program, as her first love was song-writing. At this time, Katherine uncovered a deep passion for folk music after taking an Anglo-American songwriting class taught by Carlos Rivera. She joined a band called Big City Folk Band who got a chance to meet Mark and Maggie O’Connor and play for them on campus, which led to her participation in the O’Connor Method Camp NYC. The camp was a wonderful experience that allowed her to connect with and be inspired by so many musicians. This past summer, Katherine was Artist of the Month at The Bitter End in July and played at numerous venues in the city such as Rockwood Music Hall, Caffe Vivaldi, and The Bowery Electric. She is incredibly excited to enter her junior year at University of Miami and continue her musical pursuits. For more, visit katherineanneevans.com.
Hana Morford is a musician and educator dedicated to empowering youth through the creative arts. Currently the Teaching and Learning Specialist of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra’s OrchKids program, she teaches string classes and oversees educational programming to over 1,000 at-risk youth. Hana is also a faculty member at the Peabody Preparatory, where she conducts the Preparatory String Ensemble. As a creative workshop leader, she is passionate about using musical composition to promote youth ownership and connection, and has collaborated with organizations including Creative Connections, the Orchestra of St. Luke's YOSL program, and the New England Conservatory. Hana’s former experiences include serving as Education Director of the Greater Baltimore Youth Orchestras’ Bridges program (a large urban strings initiative), as well as managing the Baltimore Symphony’s Academy programs for adult amateur musicians. She holds degrees from the Cleveland Institute of Music, Rice University, the Peabody Conservatory and the New England Conservatory’s Sistema Fellows program. Hana is a certified teacher in O'Connor Method Books I & II.
Hana is extremely honored by the opportunity to play on the Daniel Pearl Memorial Viola, feeling a deep connection to Daniel’s mission of cross-cultural understanding and commitment to connecting diverse communities through music. She hopes that the music made on the viola in Baltimore this year can pay but small homage to the powerful message for which Daniel stood.
Ronan Brown is 13 years old from Seattle Washington. He has been playing violin since he was 5 and has loved it ever since. His first teacher was Leah Hoffman, and currently Ronan has graduated to study in Margaret Pressley's studio. In 7th grade, Ronan was concert master in the Washington Middle School Senior Orchestra and the Senior Fiddlers Group, led by another one of his mentors Elizabeth Fortune.
In October 2015, Ronan's orchestra had the opportunity to play with Mark and Maggie O’Connor at the Wintergrass festival, where they performed Mr. O’Connor's composition Strings and Threads Suite. After the performance, Ronan learned about the O’Connor Method Camp in NYC and enthusiastically signed up. Ronan remarks on the NYC Camp:
"Camp – It was amazing! I loved it so much. The teachers were so good at connecting with all the students, and helping them all along at their own pace. There were many highlights for me, but the two main ones were:
On a lunch break, Mark O'Connor came up to me to show me some variations on a piece. I grabbed my violin so I could play with him. Then we both started playing the Strings and Threads Suite together, and Mr. O'Connor and I were bouncing our licks and patterns off of each other as we played.
Another amazing highlight for me was receiving the Daniel Pearl violin. I was stunned, and couldn’t believe that I had been entrusted with an instrument that meant so much for music, peace, and tolerance around the world. Soon after camp concluded I got a chance to meet with Jonathan Cooper, who made the Pearl violins. He inspired me when he told me why he made the violins, and how many hands the violin has been in. I am excited about the number of ways I can work with the Pearl Foundation and Daniel’s family this coming year to share their vision of spreading peace and harmony through music." --Ronan Brown
Jonathan Cooper at his shop in Portland, ME
Jonathan Cooper - Daniel Pearl Memorial Instruments
Congratulations to the new 2016 recipients Jafre Chase of Baltimore (age 15, viola), Joshua Wang of New York (age 12, violin), and Angelo Chery of New York (age 15, violin) for being awarded the Daniel Pearl memorial instruments for a year! See them pictured above with Mark O'Connor and the 2015 recipients Katherine Evans and Ronan Brown.
Angelo Chery is a violinist and Harmony Program student. He is 16 years old. He started learning the violin at age 13. He is in 11th grade at Edward R. Murrow High School and has two great conductors, Mr. James Duncan and Mr. Zelman Bokser. He is Concert Master of the Chamber Orchestra, Assistant Conductor of the String Orchestra, and Assistant Director of Strings for the PYT Orchestra at his High School. Angelo likes Classical music and the many genres of music in the O’Connor Method. He is a recipient of the Daniel Pearl Memorial Award 2016 and is currently playing on the Memorial Violin made by Jonathan Cooper, which was given to him at the O’Connor Method Camp NYC. He will be playing “Czardas” at a Harmony Program Gala in April 2017, and will be playing Beethoven String Quartet No.1 in F major, op.18 No1 with members of the New York Philharmonic. Angelo lives in Brooklyn, New York.
“When I play the Daniel Pearl Violin I think about the first time I met Mark and Maggie O'Connor. I was in music class and they invited me to play on stage with them. I couldn't believe it - I was so excited. I attended the O’Connor Method Camp NYC that following Summer and I was overwhelmed. At camp I was surrounded by great musicians who inspired me to work harder. The next Summer I returned to the camp and was awarded the violin. It was the answer to my prayers and I was flooded with joy and tears. Whenever I play this instrument I feel blessed! I am elated to be playing on such an amazing instrument. I am grateful to Mark and Maggie O'Connor for giving me this award. I thank Jonathan Cooper for creating this violin because it's shared among great musicians and I am proud to be one of them. The Daniel Pearl Violin has made me improve my music skills such as my rhythmic accuracy and listening skills. I have learned to express myself through the music that I play. This violin influences me to practice more and I feel like playing all day long. I have shared the story of Daniel Pearl with my music teachers at school and classmates. Before I play solos I make sure to inform the audience about Daniel Pearl and the instruments made in his honor by Jonathan Cooper. I also tell people that playing on this incredible violin will cause you to want to keep playing music because it sounds amazing.” – Angelo Chery
Joshua started his musical journey at age of three. His first violin was made out of a tissue box and a ruler for a fingerboard. Since then, he has traveled from performing solo in the living room for his ninety-year-old great grandmother to more public venues such as open-mic for the Long Island Restoration Farm farm concerts, adult day care centers, Ronald McDonald House of Long Island, and recital halls at Stony Brook University and LIU Tilles Center stage as a member of Stony Brook and Long Island University summer chamber music programs. This past September Joshua had a unique opportunity to join the Daisy Jopling Music Academy Orchestra for their “Awakening” concert. This was especially memorable for Joshua because two other Daniel Pearl Memorial Violin recipients, Angelo Chery and Katherine Evans, were also in the orchestra.
In addition to the classical genre, Joshua has been learning how to play Baroque violin since 2014. As a member of Dr. Stuckenbruck’s Kammermusik chamber group since 2013, Joshua has been able to journey musically with wonderful musicians from diverse cultural and musical backgrounds. These musicians include Navid Kandelousi of the Persian violin and Kamancheh, Majid Khaliq with music styles from European classical to American Jazz, Liu Fang with the Chinese pipa, Ben Cohen on tabla exploring India rhythm, and Yowana Sari Orchestra with Gamelan music from Bali. When preparing to play “Ashokan Farewell” for a farm concert in 2014, Joshua came across a video of Mark O'Connor and Kelly Hall-Tompkins with a link to the O’Connor Method Camp NYC. From there Joshua journeyed further into American folk music. Joshua met many students, kids and adults alike, who shared genuine interest in this music. A favorite memory for Joshua at the 2015 camp was when a camp faculty member offered to play the “Bunker Hill” piano accompaniment for Joshua’s afternoon recital, only to find the piano was locked! Instead, Mr. O’Connor got up and borrowed a guitar and played the accompaniment. Joshua is a member of The Children’s Orchestra Society Junior Symphonic Ensembles, under the direction of Dr. Yeou-Cheng Ma and Michael Dadap since Fall, 2016.
Currently a seventh grade student at The Waldorf School of Garden City, Joshua received the Rex Chao Memorial Scholarship for 2015 and 2016. Bridging the connections with others through their love of music was an important part of both Daniel Pearl’s and Rex Chao’s life. Receiving the awards to continue their legacy has been a great honor and humbling experience for Joshua. Joshua is also thankful for the violin teachers he has studied with in the past: Agnes Kwasniewska, Alejandra Mahave, and Dr. Dale Stuckenbruck - Joshua’s current violin teacher since 2012. Joshua is grateful to luthier, Xiao-Hang Luo, who spent many afternoon hours explaining the wondrous sound of music traveling between the violin end pin and the scroll. For now, Joshua is not entirely sure where he will be making the next musical stop and what other amazing adventures or wonderful people await him along the way, but he sure is glad music will be his constant and faithful traveling companion!
“Receiving the Daniel Pearl Memorial Violin has been a tremendous honor and I humbly accept it. I hope to continue Daniel Pearl’s legacy as well as the work of all the previous recipients to help empowering world peace through music. I also would like to show people a different way of hearing and viewing music.”
“Hello my name is Jafre Chase, and having the Daniel Pearl Memorial Viola has been a very good experience. The viola has helped a lot with my technique and overall tone production. I have really gotten better having it and I’m sure that I’ll improve even more. The Memorial Viola has a beautiful muted tone on all four strings, it amazes me every time I pick it up and play it. It looks perfect and it sound perfect. This is a very fine instrument. Some performances that I’ve done while having the viola are: my first recital, my repertoire classes, and chamber music and orchestral concerts all performed at the Baltimore School for the Arts. The performances went very well and I was able to perform exceptionally well on the memorial viola. I was able to produce and create the desired tone and sound that I like to hear with a viola. Audiences have told me that I made had very nice tone and vibrato. People have also thought that I was a virtuoso! I have also volunteered at OrchKids in Baltimore helping young students enhance their musical talents. Also, I have used this very beautiful Viola at the church that I attend called New Life Community Church. I will begin to play and post weekly videos of me playing various pieces for the God’s Glory. I also played for Bethel AME Chesapeake also for the God’s Glory. Having this viola has really helped me to do a lot of things that I wouldn’t have been able to do without it. Thank you for allowing me to be in possession of such a wonderful, beautiful instrument.” – Jafre Chase