Conductor-organist Marshall keys in to B.C. composers
Most classical musicians will tell you that their first music lesson was the joyful resolution of weeks or months of anticipation. Not so for British choral conductor and organist Wayne Marshall.
"That was a very difficult day. A very dark day, that was," he recalls on the line from his hometown of Leamington Spa in the West Midlands. Until then, the seven-year-old Marshall had been content to noodle on the family piano, armed with perfect pitch and a precocious musical ability that enabled him to play directly from ear. "My mother was having lessons, and I used to just copy what she used to play," he says. With the arrival of his own private teacher, however, he suddenly had to unlearn everything he had instinctively picked up and concentrate on technique and theory. At first uncooperative with his new instructor, Marshall, to the benefit of audiences worldwide, eventually came around to the idea of private lessons.
Now 34, the internationally acclaimed musician has earned a reputation as a versatile and dynamic performer who, despite having trained in the classical tradition, maintains the spirit of independence that characterized his youth. Take, for example, the trademark improvisations with which he concludes each organ recital: off-the-cuff works that might have a jazzy hint of George Gershwin or Leonard Bernstein, for whom he has a great fondness.
"I've never really considered myself one of these traditional organists," he admits. "I like to think that my programs have a rather eclectic feel to them."
Marshall's Festival Vancouver appearances are sure to be no exception. His performance next Thursday (August 4) on Christ Church Cathedral's brand-new tracker-action pipe organ promises a lineup of French romantic works by the likes of César Franck, Marcel Dupré, and Charles-Marie Widor, as well as a composition of his own and an improvisation or two.
Marshall will also conduct the Festival Vancouver Chorus in an a cappella program of both British and B.C. composers on Monday (August 1), with contemporary music by Benjamin Britten, Charles Wood, and Stephen Chatman.
"Oh, there's some great music there [in B.C.]," he says with enthusiasm. "I'm really looking forward to that."
As, no doubt, are festival concertgoers.