Marcus Tsutakawa


Photo by Tom Wolken

Marcus Tsutakawa has been an instrumental music teacher in the Seattle Public Schools since 1979. He became director of the Garfield Orchestras in 1985 and has since led the orchestra to many honors and awards and on several tours.

The son of Northwest Artist George Tsutakawa, Tsutakawa was born and raised in Seattle.  He received his Bachelor's and Master's degrees from the University of Washington in Music Composition and Music Education respectively.

Among his many honors for contributions to music education:

1996 Prix de Martell award, from Martell Cognac, Int'l, recognizing "Champions of Classical Music."
1996 & 2006 Participant in the Follow the Leader Program sponsored by The Bon Marche, Seattle Times, and KING 5, featuring 25 outstanding leaders.
2002 A&E Network Biography Community Hero.
2005 Mayor’s Arts Award for Excellence.
2006 KSTW Class Act Teacher.
2007 University of Washington College of Arts and Sciences Distinguished Alumni Award (one of four). The selection committee noted:
Marcus Tsutakawa's career as an artist and educator reflects a commitment to excellence, as well as his family's multigenerational commitment to community and active citizenship. In his work as Director of both the national-award-winning Garfield High School Orchestra and the Roosevelt Chamber Orchestra, "Tsut's" impact on students reaches beyond the practice room and concert stage. As a former student, now an orchestra director, phrased it, "...Using classical music, we not only learned how to become musicians but ultimately to be better citizens...Through music he taught us how to work with other people, to really see how a whole is greater than the sum of its parts, in general how music imitates life." Tsutakawa's accomplishments are emblematic of the best possible fusion in the artist/teacher, and deeply reflective of the values inherent in a liberal arts education.
2008 Indiana All-State Orchestra Conductor.
2008 Guest conductor of the Suzuki Youth Orchestra of America in Minneapolis.

Tsutakawa was a member of the Board of Directors of the Seattle Symphony from 2003-2007. He has been director of the Junior Symphony Orchestra since 1999 and is on faculty for Marrowstone in the City. He served as president of Metro Music Educators from 1989 to 1998.

In 2000, the family of a student musician created The Marcus Tsutakawa Endowment to recognize Tsut's exemplary leadership and dedication. The Endowment's purpose is to generate income for major purchases of lasting benefit to the orchestra program such as instruments and scores.