Conductor. Cellist. Teacher
Now in her 14th year of being a New England resident, Marshunda Smith hails from Tennessee, and she comes from a family tradition of music. She started playing cello in 6th grade because of a teenage crush but ended up falling in love with the cello instead.
After obtaining her Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, Marshunda began teaching at a local high school. It was there that she discovered a love of conducting and teaching music! So inspired, she embarked on finding a Master’s degree program in Orchestral Conducting that closely embodied her approach to music. She completed her Master’s degree in Orchestral Conducting with an emphasis in Music Education at the University of Southern Maine, under the tutelage of Dr. Robert Lehmann. Other past conducting mentors include James Fellenbaum, Victor Yampolsky, Harold Farberman and Richard Rosenberg.
While in Maine, she conducted the Odeon Youth Orchestra as well as guest conducted during various music festivals in the state. Her musical pursuits kept pointing her to the Boston area, and so she eventually settled in the North Shore area, while continuing to still hold a presence in the Maine and New Hampshire area.
Marshunda was inspired to help co-found and conduct the No-Name Orchestra of Boston, granting musicians a chance to play a concerto or other solo work with a full orchestra. The conductor, soloist, and orchestra perform a work for the first time upon meeting each other with no rehearsals. No-Name Orchestra is now in its 5th year since being founded and gives at least 3 performances each year around the Boston metro area.
In February of 2018, Marshunda guest conducted the North Shore Philharmonic Orchestra and made history by becoming the orchestra's second female conductor in 20 years and the first African American to conduct the orchestra in its 70-year history!
2018 gave rise to Marshunda's charm via performing chamber music in homes across the Boston area. Her Coquettish Dances program was such a hit that she performed it in her hometown of TN after being away for twenty years AND she recorded and released the Coquettish Dances album on December 25, 2018.
Currently, Marshunda is working on several musical endeavors titled "The Marshunda Project presents". The first Marshunda Project premiered on October 5, 2019. She conducted and premiered new works by a local composer as well as brought forth works for chamber orchestra from composers who aren't well known. Because of the success of the first project concert, Marshunda is creating a series of concerts. "Il Violoncello Italiano" and "Second-Hand Melodies" are two concerts that are coming up in March and May.
When not performing, recording or making history, Marshunda pursues her love of teaching, inspiring young musicians, and sharing her own quirky sense of fun with others. She teaches at the Waldorf School in Beverly, MA and holds a private music studio of violin, viola, and cello students.
"I'll follow your conducting anywhere!" - Cape Ann Symphony musician
"Our son is loving having his violin lessons with you. We already noticed his wanting to practice again after just knowing he was going to be with you." - Luciano S.
"Thank you for breathing us in during the performance. We seldom get that.." - NH brass player
"I always know exactly where you want the music! - Mary Jane F.
"Telling our daughter that it's ok to make mistakes has decreased her anxiety level while performing. Thank you! - Larissa M.
"It's impressive that you can bring an orchestra and soloist together on no rehearsals!" - Celia R.
"You are so easy to follow!" - Nancy P.
"You have this ability to see the best in every child and allow them to imagine and paint a picture while playing. My daughter is better for that. Thank you.
- Jennifer R.
"Well THAT was fun and exciting!"
- No-Name Orchestra soloist after 1st and only run-thru/ performance
"Instead of switching to another violin teacher, my daughter showed me cellos for sale. She doesn't want to leave you.
- Myriah K.
"You explain things in an age appropriate and understanding way to my class. My students respect that about you."
- 8th grade Waldorf class teacher
You are a bright joyful light. You make the best of every situation and have undying positivity for the kids!
- 2nd grade class teacher
"When I look up and see you shaking your hips while conducting, I feel the music more."
- No-Name Orchestra instrumentalist