Celebrating Marcus Tsutakawa’s 30 years at Garfield High School

Last night, the Seattle Symphony celebrated a community leader who has inspired countless young musicians — Marcus Tsutakawa.

Before the Side-by-Side concert with the Garfield High School orchestra, Seattle Mayor Ed Murray proclaimed Tuesday, March 1, 2016 “Marcus Tsutakawa Day” in honor his 30 years of teaching and service at Garfield High School.

“I want to thank him for his dedication to providing an inclusive education for all our students,” said Mayor Murray in his remarks. “Thank you for fulfilling their interests and helping them achieve their passions.”

Marcus Tsutakawa started as a music teacher in the Seattle Public Schools in 1979 and has been the director of the Garfield Orchestras since 1985. Under his guidance, the orchestra program at Garfield grew from 19 students to a nationally acclaimed program with more than 150 students.

In 2006 he was a participant for his second time in the Follow the Leader Program sponsored by Macy’s, The Seattle Times and KING 5 TV, featuring outstanding community “Leaders.” He is a past member of the Board of Directors of the Seattle Symphony and was recently added to the Seattle Symphony Lifetime Board of Directors.

After growing up in Seattle and attending Franklin High School, Tsutakawa received his bachelor's and master's degrees from the University of Washington in Music Composition and Music Education respectively.

Today, his former students are members of orchestras across the country, including the Cleveland Orchestra, the San Diego Symphony and the Oregon Symphony. We are proud to have three of his former students in the Seattle Symphony: Jeffrey Barker, Associate Principal Flute; Jonathan Karschney, Assistant Principal Horn; and Mara Gearman, Viola.

Here is what they had to say about Tsutakawa:

“He was an inspiring conductor for us because he treated us like adults and like professionals,” said Jeffrey Barker, Associate Principal Flute. “He chose real, difficult symphonic works for us to play and he expected us to rise to the challenges he put before us.”

“Marcus — or as we called him, “Tsut” — treated us with respect and as young professionals,” said Jonathan Karschney, Assistant Principal Horn. “Without it being said, he demanded excellence, which meant to us showing up on time and being prepared.  All of this helped along the way to becoming a professional.”

“Tsutakawa saw how invested and motivated I was on the viola right from my freshman year,” said Mara Gearman, Viola. “He made sure great opportunities were available to me, including performing Mozart’s Sinfonia Concertante in Salzburg, Mozart’s home town!”

Following the Mayor’s proclamation, more than 150 students from the Garfield High School orchestras joined the musicians from the Seattle Symphony to perform a concert in Benaroya Hall. The concert ended with a Side-by-Side performance of Debussy’s La Mer, led by Music Director Ludovic Morlot.

The opportunity for students to play side-by-side with professional musicians is an important piece of the educational process and an important part of the Seattle Symphony’s Community Connections program. Every year, the Symphony performs free Community Concerts in neighborhoods around the greater Seattle area to bring the transformational power of great music to everyone in our community.

Community and Side-by-Side Concerts are made possible with support from 4Culture, the Seattle Office of Arts & Culture and Seattle Symphony donors.

Give now to support the Seattle Symphony’s community and education initiatives./p>

Posted on March 2, 2016