It is hard to say whether the multitalented Wayne Marshall is primarily an organist or pianist. Though he is a busy conductor as well, his keyboard activities have clearly dominated his career. As an organist he has developed a sizable international following performing a broad repertory that includes works by J.S. Bach, Liszt, Mendelssohn, Franz Schmidt, Reger, Hindemith, and Copland. Many, however, know him better as a pianist: he has recorded the entire output of Gershwin and has performed works by Bernstein, Ravel, Stravinsky, and many jazz compositions. Moreover, he has acted as accompanist to several popular artists in different genres, including Broadway actress/singer Kim Criswell, opera/folk singer Willard White, violinist Tasmin Little, and trumpeter Ole Edvard Antonsen. As a conductor, Marshall has focused largely on Broadway scores, particularly those by Gershwin and Bernstein. Marshall has made numerous recordings for several labels, including EMI, Virgin, Philips, Delos, Chandos, and Collegium.
Wayne Marshall was born in Oldham, England, on January 13, 1961. He played the piano by ear at three, and began lessons at seven. He studied organ and piano at 11 at Chetham's School of Music in Manchester. Later studies were at the Royal College of Music in London and at Vienna's Hochschule für Musik.
While much of his time has been devoted to Broadway and jazz music, Marshall began his career as a church musician, serving as organ scholar first at Manchester Cathedral, then at St. George's Chapel, Windsor. Marshall quickly developed an international reputation as an organ soloist and recitalist. He also began appearing regularly as a pianist in both roles and as accompanist.
Among Marshall's earliest recordings are the 1994 Saint-Saëns Organ Symphony with Mariss Jansons on EMI, and the 1995 album Masters of English Church Music on Collegium, containing organ works by Byrd, Stanford, and Howells. Marshall had also begun developing his career as a conductor by this time, and over the years would lead such orchestras as the Rotterdam Philharmonic, Vienna Symphony, and BBC Philharmonic. His choice of repertory with these ensembles tended to favor selections from American musicals like Wonderful Town, West Side Story, and Guys and Dolls.
In 2004 Marshall premiered James MacMillan's Organ Concerto, subtitled "A Scotch Bestiary," and recorded it for the Chandos label in 2006. Among other recordings is the 2006 Virgin CD of Bernstein works, on which Marshall appears as pianist with conductor Paavo Järvi.