Friday, June 22, 2007


(San Bernardino, Calif.) Eldred Marshall, 26, began his classical piano studies at six. The following year saw his first public performance. Then at 16 he made his orchestral debut with the Victor Valley Symphony Orchestra, playing the first movement of Brahms’s Second Piano Concerto.

Marshall’s 2007-2008 will officially begin in September in Portland, Oregon, where he will launch his “Beethoven Project” series, playing the 32 piano sonatas of Beethoven in seven concerts at the Portland Community Music School. He is also scheduled to make appearances in New Haven, CT, Columbus, OH, Phoenix, AZ, San Francisco, CA and Sacramento, CA. He will repeat his “Beethoven Project” series in eight concerts at the First Unitarian Universalist Church of San Francisco in January and March of 2008.

He has performed all over the world, playing throughout the United States, Italy, the Republic of San Marino and Spain. His catholic solo repertoire spans almost 500 years, from Byrd to the music of the 21st Century. Additionally, he has a large repertoire when it comes to chamber music as well as piano concertos, as he is frequently sought after as an accompanist as well as a soloist.

Marshall is a member of a very small club: black concert pianists. “Classical music is fundamentally a European tradition,” he says. “However, blacks have long participated in the development of Western music, having becoming celebrated composers and performers. It’s a shame that they’re not better known.”

“Andre Watts is the first internationally recognized black concert pianist,” Marshall continues. “He is a pioneer.” Watts became well known thanks to conductor Leonard Bernstein, who introduced to a nationwide audience on CBS television in 1963. “When I attended his live concert in Pasadena when I was 10, it proved to me that it [becoming a black concert pianist] can be done.”

The situation for black performers in classical music continues to be rough, but Marshall feels fully charged to share his art with as many people as possible in spite of the odds. “Opportunities for us are still few and far between,” Marshall says. “However, I enjoy defying stereotypes.”

“Whenever I introduce myself as a pianist, it is always assumed that I play jazz or gospel. None of my white or Asian colleagues have to clarify or defend themselves in that manner. For some players, the most annoying question is, ‘Who is your favorite composer?’ My most annoying question is ‘How come you don’t play jazz or sing while you play?’ I’m not bitter about other peoples’ ignorance, but I see it as a chance to show that we are all fundamentally human – the difference is only skin deep.”

When he isn’t performing concerts, Marshall is in great demand as a teacher and as a lecturer. He teaches privately to beginners, although he immensely enjoys his advanced students and giving master classes.

“There is a real hunger for good music,” Marshall says. “One of the best treats anyone can give himself is to expose himself to great music. We all appreciate music. It’s what makes us human.”

Dedicating his life to classical music is second nature. After all, he responded to Johann Sebastian Bach’s music as a baby before he responded to words.

Eldred Marshall currently divides his time between Rancho Cucamonga and Sacramento, and can be reached via e-mail at