Breaking: South Bank music chief quits

Breaking: South Bank music chief quits


norman lebrecht

November 03, 2011

Marshall Marcus, head of music at Europe’s biggest arts centre, has resigned from London’s South Bank after five fruitful years.

Marshall’s greatest achievement was to maintains the peace between four resident orchestras – LPO, Philharmonia, London Sinfonietta and Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment – while bringing in high-calibre promotions like Daniel Barenboim’s Beethoven cycle, Gustavo Dudamel’s residency and the present focus on Pierre Boulez.

But he’s  restless man, ready to move on. He has a long-standing relationship with José Antonio Abreu and el sistema in Venezuela and his next task will be to develop joint projects between the South Bank and the sistema. He will also head up a baroque music programme for the Simón Bolívar Music Foundation in Venezuela.

His timing is immaculate – ahead of the 2012 Olympic overkill, and the inevitable letdown that will follow. I wish him well.

UPDATE: If you read the South Bank press release, out this morning, you will be hard pressed to understand that Marshall is actually leaving. The clever smoothies have spun it to give the impression that he’s staying put forever. Read on:

4 November 2011
Over the last half decade Southbank Centre has been at the heart of the ‘social transformation through music’ movement in the UK, working closely with Maestro José Antonio Abreu (the Founder and Director of El Sistema), the conductor Gustavo Dudamel, and young musicians from El Sistema, all of whom are inspiring figures for artists and educationalists worldwide. Following hugely successful residencies with both the Simón Bolívar and Teresa Carreño Orchestras, as well as the forthcoming residency of Gustavo Dudamel and the Simón Bolívar Symphony Orchestra in June 2012, Southbank Centre now intends to develop a programme of work that significantly deepens that relationship.
Southbank Centre is delighted to announce that Marshall Marcus will lead the work to develop this new partnership. Marshall has had a longstanding relationship with El Sistema since its establishment in the 1970s, and this project will allow him to focus his work on the international development of El Sistema. The project will see him working on the development of a business plan that supports a wide range of music partnerships nationally and internationally, advising the Centre for Social Action Through Music (CASPM) in Caracas, and facilitating staffing exchanges between Southbank Centre and CASPM. At the same time Marshall has accepted an invitation from El Sistema’s Fundación Musical Simón Bolívar to create a new orchestra within El Sistema. He takes up the dual positions of Special Project Advisor for Southbank Centre’s El Sistema project and Director of the Simón Bolívar Music Foundation’sVenezuelan Baroque Music Programme, relinquishing his current position as Head of Music at Southbank Centre in order to fulfil these new posts. He has been resident in Venezuela as a guest of El Sistema during autumn 2011in order to commence work on these projects.
Jude Kelly, Artistic Director of Southbank Centre, said: “We are very pleased to announce this research programme aimed at deepening the long-term partnership between Southbank Centre and El Sistema‘s Centre for Social Action Through Music in Caracas. I know we are lucky to have Marshall Marcus leading on the development of this research, and whilst I am very sorry to lose him from the Music Team after five exceptional years, this is an incredible opportunity for him.  I know we all look forward with excitement to the new project, both here at Southbank Centre, and in Venezuela.”
Eduardo Mendez, Executive Director of Maestro Abreu’s Fundación Musical Simón Bolívar, said: “London’s Southbank Centre is a profound supporter of El Sistema and embraces and espouses the values at the heart of the Simón Bolívar Music Foundation. It gives us great joy therefore to see our long-time friend Marshall Marcus help create a bridge between our two organisations and we look forward to him deepening and strengthening our bonds.’Marshall Marcus, said: “I feel privileged to be able to carry forward my commitment and enthusiasm for Venezuela’s revolutionary El Sistema, whilst at the same time retaining a close connection with Southbank Centre. I have enjoyed five spectacular years at Southbank Centre, following the reopening of the Royal Festival Hall, and am honoured by the invitation to establish an orchestra in Venezuela alongside the project to further cement ties between Southbank Centre and Venezuela.”


  • Doug says:

    Sometime you wonder if people are more skilled and work more feverishly at political maneuvering for their own self promotion and enrichment than actually fostering real and lasting art.