We sat down with new Education Director, Patrick O’Connor, for a more in depth look at the upcoming Young People’s Concert, The Orchestra Rocks.
Q What were you doing before you came to the SC Philharmonic?
A Before joining the SC Philharmonic, I was the Music Director and Conductor for the District 214 Honors Orchestra and orchestras at Prospect High School in the Northwest Suburbs of Chicago for ten years. I also served as Prospect’s Coordinator of Fine & Performing Arts at the beginning of my career.
Q What is your music background?
A I started out as a trombone player in South Carolina’s Lexington District One. After graduating from Lexington High School in 1999, I attended and graduated from Illinois Wesleyan University in Bloomington, Illinois with a degree in Music Education and emphasis in Conducting. I knew from a young age that I wanted to conduct orchestra, so I traveled to Illinois to study with a fantastic conductor, Steve Eggleston. My primary instrument is trombone, but I have also studied cello, piano, french horn, and tuba privately and performed with many orchestras, bands, jazz, and small ensembles across the country. I have also been fortunate to study conducting privately and participated in seminars with the current/former directors of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Royal Philharmonic of London, Tallahassee Symphony, Cincinnati Concert Orchestra, Oregon East Symphony, and the University of Illinois, Illinois Wesleyan, Boston University, and University of North Carolina Greensboro Orchestras.
Q What are you most excited about regarding the Link Up programming?
A When I was in middle school at Lexington, my music class attended a South Carolina Philharmonic concert. I was inspired by the music and the orchestra’s sound, and admired the leadership the conductor displayed on the podium. The opportunity to hear an orchestra live had a huge impact on me as a child, and I am excited that the same may be possible for the students attending our Link Up program!
I am also excited that the Link Up program is engaging and interactive, providing students with the opportunity to play along on their recorder or sing with the Philharmonic. Two local school groups will also perform on stage with the SC Phil: the Dutch Fork High School Choir and Dreher High School Drumline. Dutch Fork’s choir will accompany the SCP, singing “O Fortuna” from Carmina Burana, and the Dreher High School Drumline will perform a feature pieces for the students in the audience.
Q What is your favorite kind of food?
A Definitely Asian food. I love Hot Pot, Korean BBQ, Pho…
Q Do you think being a dad will prove to be beneficial to you through this process? Any secrets you use in your parenting that will translate to the stage?
A I was an educator first, so I really feel that my experience in education has helped me be a father. I think preparing for Link Up and being a father are very similar. Both take a lot of work, but are very rewarding experiences.
Q What is your favorite piece from this year’s Link Up selection?
A My favorite piece on the Link Up program is “O Fortuna” from Carmina Burana! It is a very recognizable and powerful piece that audiences love to hear, and musicians love to perform. I am also looking forward to hearing the SCP play Tchaikovsky’s Symphony IV Finale and Mars from The Planets.
Q Roughly how many children will be in attendance for Link Up?
A We will have more than 6,000 students performing in four concerts!
Q How often do you communicate with the folks at Carnegie Hall during the preparation process for Link Up?
A The staff at Carnegie Hall has been fantastic! They hosted a Webinar last year, which provided a lot of guidance on organizing this year’s collaboration with the Philharmonic, The Orchestra Rocks! We also communicate often on the phone, via email, and through all of the resources on their website.