North Carolina

July 27-31, 2020
(Orientation July 26)

Daniel Pearl Memorial Instruments Award
In 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. As one of Daniel’s musical mentors, Mark O’Connor was invited by the family and friends of Daniel Pearl to perform at his memorial service in Boston, November, 2002. Jon contacted Mark to help him present the beautiful violin to the Pearl family at this memorial for Daniel. One year later, the Pearl family gifted the violin to Mark and his string camps in order for deserving students to have the opportunity to practice and perform on such a valuable instrument with the monetary value of $20,000 to $30,000. A tradition was established at O’Connor String Camps, that the violin in Daniel’s name, would rotate through the student body in perpetuity. From that initial inspiration, and through the help of more private commissions, 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 String Camp, exceptional string students are awarded the honor to play these instruments for a year, and are also given a scholarship to return to camp the next year and continue the tradition. 
"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.
Daniel Pearl Memorial Instruments

2019 recipients

2019 recipients Toby Conn (violin), Nick Cladakis (violin), Amanda Arey (viola), and Erin Anderson (cello)! These deserving students will play these beautiful instruments for a year and attend the Charlotte, N.C. 2020 Camp with a full tuition scholarship to continue the tradition, performing Mr. O'Connor's "Appalachia Waltz" for the ceremony at the Student Electives Concert! They are pictured here with the 2018 recipients Noshi Norris, Lucas Nyman, Oly'Via Thompson, and Kristina Roller along with Mark O'Connor at the 2019 award ceremony.
Toby Conn, Violin
Fourteen year old singer and violinist Toby Conn studies classical music with LaDonna Smith in Birmingham, Alabama. She was originally introduced to her instrument when she was six years old. She has played classical and fiddle music for about nine years. Toby performs as concertmaster of the Altamont Orchestra and the Sequana Strings Group. Toby enjoys playing in her band, FiddleFace, at Mark O'Connor Camp, festivals, and busking. Toby says, "Before Mark O'Connor Camp next year I am excited to finish his orchestra books, record music at Fame Studios with FiddleFace, perform Czardas by V. Monti, Kol Nidre by Max Bruch, and several other solo pieces on the Daniel Pearl Violin. Along with being a symbol of world peace and connectivity with music, the Daniel Pearl Violin has mainly inspired me to follow in the previous recipient's footsteps. I was handed the violin from Lucas Nyman, a great friend who I met several years ago at O'Connor Camp. He and everyone else at Mark O'Connor Camp have thoroughly inspired and taught me about music and fiddle. The experience of Mark O'Connor camp and my year with the Daniel Pearl instrument has taught me not only about fiddle music, but about leadership, discipline, and responsibility. Being able to carry on a tradition, learn from the best, and play a beautiful violin is a once in a lifetime opportunity to achieve my very best in music."


Amanda Arey, Viola
Amanda is 17 years old and is a rising senior in the Academy of Engineering at Independence High School, where she plays in the Symphonic Orchestra led by Thomas Arbuthnot.  She was first introduced to the viola in elementary school by her school orchestra director, Bruce Becker.  Currently, she spends time developing her talent as a violist under the instruction of Kirsten Allen and has received an NFMC Superior Rating Certificate.  Amanda has been invited to join the Viola section of the Charlotte Symphony Youth Orchestra for the 2019-20 season, where she looks forward to the honor of playing the uniquely beautiful hand-crafted stringed instrument.  Amanda intends to perform though the year and participate in Daniel Pearl World Music Days with a dedicated performance in October.
I’m excited to have been selected for this incredible opportunity, says Amanda, to join in sharing a message of peace, tolerance and connecting with others through playing music this year.  I am so humbled by the long list of extremely accomplished and world class recipients who have fulfilled the vision as caretakers of these instruments over the years. Receiving the Pearl Viola to play has inspired me to achieve my very best.

Erin Anderson, Cello
Erin is thirteen years old and has been playing cello for over seven years. She started out accompanying her violinist sister on a cello she made for herself out of cardboard, until her parents finally relented and got her a real cello. She has played for several years in the Youth Orchestras of Charlotte, and often plays in her church. Erin loved exploring different musical styles this summer at the O’Connor string camp. The highlights for her were the daily jam sessions and the all camp play-down. She is very honored to be awarded the Daniel Pearl cello for a year and she is looking forward to playing at nursing homes and schools, sharing the gift of music with those who otherwise wouldn’t get to hear it.

2018 recipients

2018 recipients Noshi Norris, Lucas Nyman, Oly'Via Thompson, and Kristina Roller! These deserving students will play these beautiful instruments for a year and attend the Charlotte, N.C. 2019 Camp with a full tuition scholarship to continue the tradition, performing Mr. O'Connor's "Appalachia Waltz" for the ceremony at the Student Electives Concert! They are pictured here with the 2017 recipients Croft (Didi) Stone, Jodie Stone, and Hannah Klinghoffer along with Mark O'Connor at the 2017 award ceremony.
Noshi Norris - violin
Noshi Norris is a student of Amadi Azikiwe and David Burnett. He is an 8th grader at Mark Twain IS 239 for the Gifted and Talented in Coney Island, Brooklyn where he plays violin and double bass. Noshi was introduced to violin through an in-school program run by the Noel Pointer Foundation. He is a member of the Noel Pointer String Players chamber group, and is concert master of Mark Twain’s chamber group. Noshi has been very fortunate to be able to play the Daniel Pearl Memorial violin during the 2018-2019 school year. He has been able to perform with it frequently during a touring engagement of A New York Lamentation, a play by the Episcopal Diocese of New York. Most recently, Noshi played it during the CSI Competition for Strings - Middle School Division, and was awarded first place. Noshi looks forward to attending Brooklyn Technical High School in the fall and playing in their orchestra. He will carry the experience of playing the Daniel Pearl Memorial Violin, and the courageous story of Daniel Pearl, with him.

Lucas Nyman - violin
Lucas Nyman is a 14 ­year ­old violinist that lives near Atlanta. He has been playing violin for 9 years. His youthful experiences were with the Fayette Fiddlers, where he played for 7 years. He is currently part of a local string quartet and an advanced orchestra in Atlanta. He began playing when his mother signed him up for a Suzuki program against his 5­ year ­old better judgement. Lucas has played some fiddle music but has mostly played a classical repertoire. He says that his time at the O’Connor String Camp gave him a better appreciation and understanding of the fun and value of improvisation and collaborative jamming. This year he has played the Daniel Pearl violin at festivals including the Cotton Pickin’ Fair, a gala in downtown Atlanta, concert halls including Spivey Hall and the Schwartz Center in Atlanta, and at local house parties. Lucas is an eighth grader and plays with the Rising Starr Middle School orchestra as well as the All­State Middle School Orchestra in Athens, Georgia.
Oly'Via Thompson - viola
Oly’Via Thompson is currently an 11th grade student at Northwest School of the Arts in Charlotte, North Carolina, where she is a member of the Symphonic Orchestra.  Oly’Via has been playing the viola for five years.  She has had been a member of the CMS Honors Orchestra, the Western Regional Orchestra and the Junior Charlotte Symphony Youth Orchestra.  Oly’Via also plays with the Florence Price Youth Orchestra, which is an all women youth orchestra.
Oly’Via has been able to share the rich sound of the Daniel Pearl Memorial Viola with her community and church as she has played for several programs and occasions.  She had her first recital this year.  She also received two superior ratings in Solo and Small Group Ensemble.
“Last year was my first time attending the O’Connor Method String Camp.  I can remember on the first day when Mr. Mark O’Connor was talking about the Daniel Pearl Memorial Instruments and thinking that would be an awesome experience but never thought that I would be awarded one of the Memorial Instruments.  Looking back over the year, this has been one of the best musical experiences I have had.  I would like to thank the O’Connors for this wonderful experience.  It has made me be more appreciative and aware of the sounds and tones as I play this remarkable instrument.  Thank you all again for allowing me the opportunity to grow musically this year with the Daniel Pearl Memorial Viola.”
Kristina Roller - cello
Kristina Roller is a homeschooler who has been playing cello for over 11 years and has loved the five years of involvement with a youth orchestra under the direction of Dr. Ernest Pereira. She has also enjoyed a variety of summer music camps through her high school years including the O'Connor Method Strings Camp in 2018 when was honored with the Daniel Pearl Memorial Cello Award.
Kristi also has thrived in musical theater with Eagles' Wings Studio for three years, with her final year as the leading lady, Amalia Balish, in the musical, She Loves Me, in April 2019.
Kristi is looking forward to attending Pensacola Christian College, in Pensacola Florida, this fall majoring in cello performance with a minor in voice to further her love for singing and musical theater.
Kristi Roller was awarded the privilege of playing the Daniel Pearl Memorial Cello at the 2018 O'Connor Method Strings Camp. Since then, she has had many opportunities to play at assisted living facilities and spread the joy of music. She has called her Daniel Pearl program "Beauty for Ashes" which she believes sets the scene for the wonderful comfort and beauty of music amidst times of tragedy. She has had some wonderful experiences while playing for senior residents and talking with them. At one of the homes, she met a 92-year-old man who she learned was a medical student of her great great grandfather's. She plans on playing the Pearl cello much more this summer, taking her "Beauty for Ashes" program to more senior homes before the next O'Connor camp. Her sister, Laura, who also attended the O'Connor camp will play violin and piano with her this summer when she's home from college. Overall, Kristi says it's been an amazing experience and looks forward to playing her Pearl cello at senior homes, even more, this summer!

2017 recipients

2017 recipients Croft Stone, Jodie Stone, and Hannah Klinghoffer! These deserving students will play these beautiful instruments for a year and attend the Charlotte, N.C. Camp to continue the tradition, performing Mr. O'Connor's "Appalachia Waltz" for the ceremony at the Student Electives Concert! They are pictured here with the 2016 recipients Angelo Chery, Joshua Wang, and Jafre Chase, along with Mark O'Connor at the previous camp in New York City.
Hannah Klinghoffer - violin
Hannah Klinghoffer is 15 years old and from Seattle, Washington. She started playing violin at the age of 8, playing strictly classical music. It wasn’t until she began studying under Ben Hunter that she was introduced to the fiddle side of the violin. With Mr. Hunter, Hannah performed in the Northwest Folklife Festival for the first time when she was 9 years old, and fell in love with that style of music. She has come back each year to perform in the festival. Hannah also plays in the symphony at her school, Ingraham High School, under the direction of Heidi Oveson.    

In 2015, Hannah had the opportunity to join the youth orchestra at the Wintergrass music festival. During the festival, the students in the orchestra played with many artists, including Mark and Maggie O’Connor. Hannah found out about the O’Connor method camp in NYC and after listening to Mark and Maggie O’Connor perform, she knew that she wanted to play more of that genre of music.

“Attending the O’Connor method camp in NYC is an experience that I will never forget. It is such an honor to be surrounded by incredible musicians who inspire you to work harder on your music. One of the highlights for me was during my first year at the camp when I was working on a duet with Angelo Chery, and Maggie O’Connor came in to help us perfect the duet before we performed. The following summer I came back to camp and was awarded the Daniel Pearl violin. I’m so honored to be able to play this violin, that has already been played by so many outstanding musicians, for the next year and I’m overcome with joy every time I take it out of the case. The violin has an amazing sound and it inspires me to practice more and share with others the story of Daniel Pearl. Through the coming year I hope to spread Daniel Pearl’s message and make the most out of the time I have with the violin.” - Hannah Klinghoffer

Croft (Didi) Stone - viola
Croft (Didi) Stone is currently a 6th Grade student at Rising Starr Middle School in Fayetteville, GA and is 12 years old. He began playing the violin at the age of 5 and the viola at age 8. Throughout his years of learning the violin, he has been performing with the Fayette County Fiddlers in multiple local events and concerts. He has also been the principal violist of a community orchestra, Fortissimo String Orchestra and a member of a youth quartet, "Quartet le Petit" along with his sister, Jodie Stone.
Didi has participated in different music camps over the years. The O'Connor music camp has always been his favorite. The fellowship, rigor, and fun of the camp, including the inspiring musicians, have helped him grow as a violinist and violist over the past few years. Winning the Daniel Pearl Viola has been an amazing validation to his hard work and dedication to his violin and viola playing. Since winning the Daniel Pearl Viola , Didi has become the principal violist at his middle school, performed with the All County Orchestra as a violinist, and performed with the Emory Junior Chamber Orchestra as a violist. He will also be performing as a violist with the Georgia All State Orchestra in March, 2018.

"Playing the Daniel Pearl Viola helped me realize my potential in becoming a good violist. It has a tone that is hard to reproduce on any other instrument, and is such an improvement on my last viola. It is so loud, clear, and has opened up my sound tremendously. Since having this instrument, I have gotten so much better at viola that I cannot believe. When I was selected as the Daniel Pearl Viola winner, I was in shock. It was a huge honor accepting the viola from Jafre, who is an exceptional violist. I had dreamed about the day I would get a Daniel Pearl Memorial instrument since I saw Joshua get the Daniel Pearl Violin the year before, and when I got the viola, it was truly a dream come true! I am able to make a great sound on this viola, and I will continue to improve as a violist. Thank you Mark O Connor for allowing me to have this instrument for a year." - Croft (Didi) Stone

Jodie Stone - violin
Jodie Stone is currently an 8th Grade student at Rising Starr Middle School in Fayetteville, GA and is 13 years old. She began playing the violin at the age of 5 and the viola at age 10. Along with her brother, Didi Stone, she has been performing with the Fayette County Fiddlers in multiple local events and concerts. She has also been the principal violinist of a community orchestra, Fortissimo String Orchestra and a member of a youth quartet, "Quartet le Petit" along with her brother, Didi Stone.    

The first year of participating in the O'Connor music camp was one of the biggest turning points of Jodie's musical experience. She could not stop talking about how much it has helped her realize she loves playing the violin. She looked forward to listening to, learning, playing, and performing alongside world class teachers and musicians during the camp. Winning the Daniel Pearl Violin raised this experience of awe with the camp even higher than she could imagine. Since then, Jodie has become the principal violinist of her middle school orchestra, auditioned into the Emory Junior Chamber Orchestra (currently the principal 2nd violin), and performed with the All County Orchestra. She will also be performing with the Georgia All State Orchestra in March 2018.

"Playing with the Daniel Pearl Violin was an amazing experience. It was the first time I realized I have the potential of making sounds beyond my expectations. It helped me understand the subtleties of performing and playing and inspired me to improve and grow as a musician. I always understood that I have to practice to get better and play a certain way to sound good, but I never realized how big a difference an instrument can make. Receiving the Daniel Pearl Violin is an honor and a boost of confidence that allows me to scratch the surface of what it means to be a musician. Practicing and performing with the Daniel Pearl Violin has helped me getting into Georgia All State Orchestra and Emory Junior Chamber Orchestra. I am so humbled by this opportunity and look forward to what violin playing will bring." - Jodie Stone

Daniel Pearl Memorial Cello
We are thrilled to share with you that we will be awarding the Daniel Pearl Memorial Cello at the 2018 camp! This gorgeous instrument has been with the maker Jon Cooper, but is now ready for the next lucky student at the 2018 camp. Here is a photo of Mark O'Connor with the cello from a feature article in the Charlotte Observer. This cello was made in 2010, read more about previous cello recipients here .    

The last recipient of the cello was Duncan Hall in 2012:
"Part of my great love for the cello stems from how it so naturally serves as an extension of the human voice, and through that, the soul. I believe the music that means the most in this world touches something much deeper than just the ear or the mind, and allows a musician to create a connection of the heart with their listeners. That is what I look for in my playing, and I think it strongly resonates with the Daniel Pearl Foundation's grand vision of a world united by music. I feel so privileged to join with the Daniel Pearl Foundation in their mission through this unique instrument." - Duncan Hall

Read about recipients from the NYC Camp from 2015-2016:

2015-2016 NYC Camp Recipients