Del Norte native thrives

Written by Holly O. Austin March 07, 2014 04:23 pm

Morgan O’Shaughnessey and pianist Jacob Tchorvewski.
Morgan O’Shaughnessey and pianist Jacob Tchorvewski. Submitted
Morgan O’Shaughnessey, a Del Norte native, started playing the violin at age 5, when he took lessons from local violinist and longtime teacher Sybil Wakefield.

In June, he will perform a concert for the president of the Italian Republic of Italy at the Quirinale Palace in Rome, which will also be broadcast live on Italian National Radio.

But before that, he’ll perform in Crescent City on Friday night.

His journey from student to teacher and performer has been filled with interesting turns and connections. As a small child, he has been told, he was always making noises and humming a sound track to everything.

“Music was like breathing to me,” he said. “It’s continually in the background.”

He originally wanted to learn to play the cello, but “Mom said it was too expensive. So viola is my grand Freudian compromise,” he chuckled.

“I studied music with Sybil for two years, in the Suzuki program,” O’Shaughnessey said. At which point, since he was both learning and playing so fast, she recommended he start taking lessons from teachers at Humboldt State University, which he did every Saturday for many years.

“Karen Davy is responsible for the classical player I am today,” he said of his primary instructor from that time.

At age 6, he attended a Del Norte Association for Cultural Awareness performance with his parents that turned out to be quite special for him.

Irish fiddler Martin Hayes, accompanied by guitarist Dennis Cahill, performed in Crescent Elk Auditorium in November of 1998. The concert start time that night was delayed by half an hour, during which the artists were circling overhead in a 30-seat passenger plane waiting for a break in the clouds to land.

“I was fascinated by Martin and loved his music, “ said O’Shaughnessey. “We bought his CD, and I learned all the pieces by ear.”

His interest in folk music has continued, and in addition to Celtic music he has learned and played Quebecois, Swedish, and Eastern European forms. In the Ashland region where he currently lives, teaches and plays with orchestras, he has also done some studio recording in the pops industry.

O’Shaughnessey attended the San Francisco Conservatory of Music for four years, preceded by a high school year in which he also took classes there. He and his mother made the long commute from Gasquet every other weekend.

Along with pianist Jacob Tchorvewski, a Polish musician from Vienna, O’Shaughnessey will perform a viola concert at 7:30 p.m. Friday at Grace Lutheran Church, 188 E. Cooper Ave., Crescent City.

The program includes works by Shostakovich, Brahms and a unique, modern piece by a relatively unknown Italian composer.

A freewill donation is suggested.