G. Allan O'Connor earned his Bachelor of Music Education degree and Performers Certificate from the State University College of Fredonia, New York, and his Master of Music degree in percussion performance from the University of Illinois.
He was appointed head of percussion studies at Northern Illinois University in 1968, assistant chair of the School of Music in 1983 and associate dean of the College of Visual and Performing Arts in 1989.
He established the first actively performing steel band in an American university at Northern Illinois in 1973, and was able to add Cliff Alexis to the staff in 1985 as builder, tuner, arranger and co-director of the NIU Steel Band.
He has received seven grants from the United States National Endowment for the Arts to support various artistic endeavors and was twice nominated for Fulbright fellowships by the Council for the International Exchange of Scholars.
As a percussion soloist and conductor, O'Connor has premiered over 25 compositions for percussion solo or ensemble. He has written more than 50 arrangements for steel band - some incorporating other acoustic and electric instruments as well as musics of West African Drumming and Trinidad and Tobago's Tambu Bambu. His arrangement of Aaron Copland's "Appalachian Spring" was performed by "Our Boys Steel Orchestra" of Tobago at the 1988 Music Festival held in Port of Spain, Trinidad.
O'Connor has been instrumental in the formation of steel bands in many schools and colleges in the United States, Canada, New Zealand and most recently at the National Institute of the Arts in Taiwan, Republic of China.
He has studied tuning with Mr. George Richards of Grenada and Cliff Alexis, formerly of Trinidad and Tobago.
In 1987 O'Connor established at Northern Illinois University a curriculum in music with Pan as its major instrument, leading to a Bachelor of Arts in Music degree.
He brought the 24 piece NIU Ensemble on a 12-day tour of Taiwan, Republic China, in 1992, which included a performance in the prestigious National Concert Hall.
He visited Trinidad where he was appointed by Pan Trinbago, the National Steel Band Association, a judge for the International Steel Band festival "Pan is Beautiful VI".
O'Connor passed away on June 9th, 2019.