Meet the Student: Q&A with Marcus Shaw

Marcus Shaw, from Ossining, N.Y., entered the Curtis Institute of Music in 2022 and studies horn with Jeffrey Lang and Jennifer Montone. All students at Curtis receive merit-based, full-tuition scholarships, and Mr. Shaw is the Bernard M. Guth Fellow.



What is your first musical memory as a child and what led you to pick up the horn and pursue a career as a classical musician?
Both my parents are musicians, so music was always a part of my life. Though I can’t recall my first musical memory, I vividly remember my parents practicing and listening to their favorite recordings during dinner as a child. From the first time I heard it on a recording, the sound of the horn captivated me, and I knew the horn would be the instrument I’d eventually choose to learn. I began learning to play the horn in 4th grade, and by high school, I was having such a good time with my musical studies that it only made sense to aspire toward a musical career.

What have you enjoyed the most about your experience studying at Curtis thus far?
So far, my experience studying at Curtis has been incredibly enlightening. I’ve most enjoyed being in the presence of Curtis’s exceptional faculty. They have given me the knowledge and wisdom to develop as a musician and person. The faculty here have created a warm and inclusive environment that has made me comfortable experimenting with different aspects of my approach to music making and inspired me to strive for excellence in all aspects of my life.

What are some of your most memorable performance experiences to date?
My most memorable performing experience to date was my first concert with the Curtis Symphony Orchestra. Performing with the CSO has been my dream since I was a kid, and when it actually happened, it was utterly surreal. It was so gratifying to perform with an ensemble of such skilled musicians. I still remember the excitement that came as I took the stage. It was an unforgettable experience that I will always treasure. Another experience that comes to mind was a concert during middle school with a regional honor ensemble. This concert was my first experience playing in an orchestra, and I immediately fell in love with it. Being part of a horn section was extremely rewarding, and I enjoyed the challenge of learning new pieces of music. I also found playing with other musicians and observing our music come together as we rehearsed and performed very interesting.

Who are the musicians that inspire you and what is your favorite repertoire to perform?
I’m inspired by all of the other musicians here at Curtis. Observing everyone’s work ethic and dedication to excellence motivates me to improve. We are a team, and I don’t want to let my team down when it’s time to perform! I’m also inspired by the many teachers who have helped me along my journey. They believed I had what it took to be a great musician, and I am determined to prove them right! My favorite repertoire to perform is post-romantic orchestral music. The composers of this music took advantage of the horn’s full capabilities. There are many glorious horn moments in Gustav Mahler and Richard Strauss’s music; for me, these parts are the most fun to prepare!

When you aren’t practicing or performing, what are some of your non-musical hobbies or interests?
Outside of music, I love learning new things! I’m always looking for opportunities to better understand the world around me and the people in it.

Photo credits: 1.) Marcus Shaw and Jack Bryant performing in the Brass section of the Curtis Symphony Orchestra at Verizon Hall; David DeBalko. 2.) Courtesy of the artist. 3.) Courtesy of River Journal, Laura Mogil.

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