Brief Biography

Secretary General of the European Union Youth Orchestra, CEO of the International Youth Foundation, President Sistema Europe, Trustee Sistema England, member of the Honorary Council of the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, I am the Founder of Sistema Europe, Sistema Africa, the SERA Archive, The European Music Campus, La Orquesta Barroca Simón Bolívar de Venezuela, and a Co-founder of the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment.

I have been inspired by, and involved in, the world of music since the 1960s, and as a violinist, programmer, writer, educator and broadcaster have  worked in around 70 countries across 5 continents. I am currently particularly interested in the role of culture to help realise the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, and was recently the General Editor of the European Commission’s Voices of Culture Structured Dialogue brainstorming report ‘Culture and the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals: Challenges & Opportunities’. 


2012 – 2021
Before taking up my current post with the EUYO, I advised and taught at Fundación Musical Simón Bolívar in Venezuela, lead Southbank Centre’s International Sistema Research Programme in London, worked with the British Council to develop new international youth orchestra networks, and advised and tutored the Eastern Partnership ‘I, Culture’ Orchestra composed of young musicians from Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova, Poland and the Ukraine. I was a member of Sistema Global’s Advisory Board, and for six years, the British Council’s Arts and Creative Economy Advisory group. Other projects in the last decade include teaching at the Neojiba project in Bahia, Brazil, and creating and directing ‘SERA’, an online global Sistema Evaluation and Research Archive. In recent years I have taught and/or lectured in Abu Dhabi, Armenia, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Chile, China, Dubai, France, Germany, Italy, Korea, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Poland, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, Venezuela, the UK and the USA.

Between 1994 and 2006 I was Chairman and then Chief Executive of the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, an orchestra which I co-founded with colleagues in 1985, and from 2006 – late 2011, Head of Music at London’s Southbank Centre (including during the reopening of the Royal Festival Hall in 2007), where I programmed and oversaw one of the largest arts centre music programmes in the world.

Before entering the world of music programming and management I enjoyed a 25 year career as an orchestral, solo and chamber violinist, recording and performing in more than 60 countries. I have worked regularly with major artists such as Sir Simon Rattle, Sir Roger Norrington, Pierre Boulez, Daniel Barenboim, Claudio Abbado, Mariss Jansons, Gustavo Dudamel, Mitsuko Uchida, Maurizio Pollini, Lang Lang and Cecilia Bartoli, and in an eclectic career have happily collaborated as a performer with musicians as varied as the Moscow Soloists, Baaba Maal and The Michael Nyman Band.

Beginning in the 1970s, I was a member of the BBC Symphony Orchestra, and then Concert-Master of the Orquesta Filarmonica de Caracas, Professor with the Simón Bolívar Youth Orchestra of Venezuela, a Principal player with Amsterdam Baroque, Leader of the Orchestra of St. John’s Smith Square, and a player member and Executive Director of Endymion Ensemble, as well as appearing as leader with many orchestras including the Academy of Ancient Music, the London Classical Players and the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment.

Numerous recordings include the Rossini String Sonatas with Chi-Chi Nwanoku, Richard Tunnicliffe and Elizabeth Wallfisch, Globokar’s string quartet Discours VI with Domus, the complete Beethoven symphonies with Sir Roger Norrington, complete Bach Cantatas with Ton Koopman, complete Haydn Symphonies with Christopher Hogwood, and a number of film scores in studios with groups including The Michael Nyman Band.

Education: teaching and studies
I have worked for decades in music education, particularly between the late 1970s and late 1990s and after 2012, designing projects at primary, secondary and university level, and teaching at institutions including Bristol University, The Royal Academy of Music, The Royal College of Music and El Sistema. In 2014 I created the European Music Campus at Grafenegg, and was the driving force behind Towards 2020, a Creative Europe programme to help skill young musicians in the EU for 21st century challenges. My current education work focuses on the way in which musical and cultural activity can help the development of young people from all of the various diverse areas that make up contemporary society, seeing culture as one of our best ‘engines’ for global exchange, learning and development.

I am an MA graduate of The Queen’s College Oxford University in Philosophy and Experimental Psychology – where I was President of the Oxford Musical Club and Union, a Hastings Scholar and a Music Exhibitioner – and was a post-graduate at Trinity College Cambridge University in the teaching of English. I became an Associate of the Royal College of Music in performance in 1973. My violin teachers, to whom I owe an immense debt, included principally Michael Vyner, Frederick Grinke, and Eta Cohen, with the latter of whom I studied for 10 years.

Other Activities
Board, judging panel and advisory appointments have included The Royal Philharmonic Society, The Association of British Orchestras, The British Association of Concert Halls, Kings Place Music Foundation, Sphinx UK, BBC Musician of the Year, and The Leverhulme Trust. I was Vice Patron of the Kampala Music School Appeal, and am an Honorary Fellow of The Worshipful Company of Musician’s, an advisor for the National Orchestra For All (NOFA), and was a founding member of the Art.Change.Europe Alliance. I appeared regularly on UK BBC radio and TV during previous decades, and have written for a number of publications including, principally, the UK Guardian and the website Chameleonworld. My blog has focused mainly on El Sistema and the classical music world, but also contains selected essays from Chameleonworld, and has been accessed by people in well over 120 countries.



2 thoughts on “Brief Biography

  1. Gordon Dipple

    Hi Marshall, so amazing to see my yurt design used for such an excellent project. Love to hear your conclusions on its audio proprieties. Keep up the good work. Gordon

  2. Marshall Marcus Post author

    Ha. Glad you are pleased. I didn’t know it was your design. It sounds good inside the yurt. Just come back from a late night session with it. Music and intimacy.

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