news-category: Campus News

Over 400 Orchestra Students Present Concert with Grammy Award-Winning Violinists Mark & Maggie O’Connor at Gardner-Webb on March 14

Mark and Maggie O'Connor play on stage
Mark and Maggie O'Connor play in Gardner-Webb's Dover Theatre in 2018 for a concert event.

Free Event, Co-Sponsored by the University, will be held in Paul Porter Arena at 6:30 p.m.

BOILING SPRINGS, N.C.—Gardner-Webb is co-sponsoring an event hosted by six orchestra programs from Cleveland County Schools on Thursday, March 14, in Paul Porter Arena. Special guests for the free program at 6:30 p.m. that evening are Grammy award-winning violinists Mark and Maggie O’Connor.

The huge concert will include all of the students — over 400 sixth- through 12-graders — playing a variety of bluegrass, fiddle, and concert music. The O’Connors will be featured in a duo performance.

Gardner-Webb Professor of Music Dr. Patricia Sparti is conducting two pieces; then each school director will conduct a selection in the program.

Last month, students from area middle schools and high schools came to Gardner-Webb for an Orchestra Festival and were critiqued by a panel of judges. Some of these same students will participate in the concert in Paul Porter Arena on March 14.

The directors for the schools are:

  • Andrew Wehmueller – Shelby High  
  • Billy Norton – Burns High
  • Peter Strickland – Crest High
  • Mandi Colson – Burns Middle
  • Hannah Stevens – Shelby Middle
  • Justin Harper – Crest Middle

The directors have challenged their students to “Pack Porter Arena” for the event. Students will rehearse in the morning, and the O’Connors will arrive in the afternoon to practice before the concert.

Mark has won three Grammy awards and is a 13-time National Grand Champion on violin and guitar. He has sold over 3 million records and has recorded with Earl Scruggs, Johnny Cash and Yo-Yo Ma. Eight times Mark was named Country Music Artist of the Year.

Maggie, who has one Grammy award, has a unique background in both traditional classical violin training and American musical styles. She has regularly performed at the Grand Ole Opry with her husband in both band and duo configurations. In the classical world, she and her husband have performed around the globe, including the Leopold Auer Music Academy in Hungary and the Berlin Konzerthaus celebrating the centennial birthday of the legendary violinist Yehudi Menuhin.

Mark is the author of a series of educational books called the O’Connor Method, which has become the fastest growing string method in the country. The O’Connor Method features American music styles, creativity, cultural diversity and western classical technical training.

For more information about the event, contact Strickland at Crest High School, (704) 476-8331.

Gardner-Webb University is North Carolina’s recognized leader in private, Christian higher education. A Carnegie-Classified Doctoral/Professional University, GWU is home to nine colleges and schools, more than 80 undergraduate and graduate majors, and a world-class faculty. Located on a beautiful 225-acre campus in Boiling Springs, N.C., Gardner-Webb prepares graduates to impact their chosen professions, equips them with the skills to advance the frontiers of knowledge, and inspires them to make a positive and lasting difference in the lives of others. Ignite your future at

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