Conductor. Cellist. Teacher
Originally hailing from Tennessee, Marshunda's enchantment with music began in 6th grade when she first picked up the cello. Initially sparked by a teenage crush, her passion quickly evolved into a genuine love for the instrument. Earning her Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, marked the inception of her musical odyssey.
Her journey took a significant turn while teaching at a local high school, where her enthusiasm for conducting and music education flourished. This newfound love led her to pursue a Master's degree in Orchestral Conducting with a focus on Music Education at the University of Southern Maine.
Along this journey, Marshunda had the privilege of receiving mentorship from distinguished conductors such as James Fellenbaum, Victor Yampolsky, Robert Lehmann, Adrian Gnam, and others.
Adrian Gnam noted that Marshunda's conducting style bears a striking resemblance to the Ilyia Musin technique, a rarely taught style in American conservatories and schools of music. This expressive technique emphasizes conveying the music with minimal verbal statements, making it a unique and powerful method of communication between the conductor and the orchestra.
During her time in Maine, Marshunda's conducting talents shone as she led the Odeon Youth Orchestra and conducted at various music festivals. However, her musical journey ultimately led her to the Boston area, where she established herself in the North Shore community while maintaining connections in Maine and New Hampshire.
Driven by a commitment to push the boundaries of classical music, Marshunda co-founded the groundbreaking No-Name Orchestra of Boston. This innovative ensemble challenges norms by bringing soloists and orchestra members together for performances without rehearsals, fostering spontaneous and captivating musical experiences. Now in its 8th year, the No-Name Orchestra continues to captivate audiences across the Boston metro area with its unique approach.
A pivotal year for Marshunda was in 2018 when in February, Marshunda made history by guest conducting the North Shore Philharmonic Orchestra, becoming the second female conductor in two decades and the first African American conductor in its 70-year history. Marshunda also captivated Boston audiences with her Coquettish Dances program, a chamber music sensation. This program resonated with her hometown in Tennessee when she returned to offer her first concert in Chattanooga in two decades, subsequently releasing Coquettish Dances as an album.
Currently, Marshunda channels her artistic energies into "The Marshunda Project," which encompasses the Cherry Hill Chamber Orchestra and NoName Orchestra. Premiering on October 5, 2019, The Marshunda Project featured new compositions by local talents and brought lesser-known works for chamber orchestra into the spotlight.
The Cherry Hill Chamber Orchestra brings together musicians and audiences in a way that is refreshingly different than the the standard 'concert activity'. Marshunda brings in intellectual anecdotes, history, and humor as she weaves a tapestry on the concert theme. Her program "Art Nouveau: Whispers of an Ephemeral Age" concert delighted both musicians and the audience as she unfolded her storytelling skill set
In September 2023, Marshunda made history once again by accepting the position of Music Director and Conductor for the Lowell Philharmonic Orchestra, becoming the first black female to lead the Lowell organization. Shortly after, she accepted the role of Music Director for the opera "Post: Pardon," scheduled to be performed in Maine in June 2024 and June 2025.
Beyond her musical pursuits, Marshunda is a dedicated educator, inspiring the next generation of musicians at the Waldorf School in Beverly, MA. She also maintains a private music studio for violin, viola, and cello students. Marshunda shares her wealth of knowledge by mentoring fellow Waldorf teachers across the United States and is currently working on her first book, further solidifying her legacy in the world of music education.
Her approachability and genuine love for music are evident in every note she conducts, sometimes even dancing on the podium as she brings together the orchestra and the audience. Marshunda's future aspirations include guest conducting up and down the East Coast, continuing to share her unique approach to music, and fostering the growth of classical music appreciation. To experience the vibrant new programs Marshunda is building in the New England area, reach out, connect, and become a part of her musical community.