Today we’d like to introduce you to Marcus Norris.
Marcus, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
I started out making rap beats as a kid. No one ever heard them, they were just a form of expression for me and how I grew to process life. In high school this turned into producing and rapping with my friends. After high school I got a scholarship to a community college, where in the process of learning recording technology, I also learned a little about classical music theory and Jazz. I was hooked and kept studying, transferring to get my Bachelors in Music Composition, then my Masters, and now I’m at UCLA getting my PhD in Music Composition.
South Side Symphony is a project that I think was always in the back of my mind. A “wouldn’t it be crazy if…” type of thing. This idea of fusing high-level orchestral writing with high-level Black music. We partnered with the brilliant folks at WACO Theater Center in North Hollywood to do our first concert earlier this year after I had been working there composing for their plays over the last couple years.
We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
Well… Our first South Side Symphony concert was at the end of February 2020, a short time prior to COVID-19 becoming a global pandemic and all concerts being banned. We found ourselves in an indefinite pause almost immediately after starting. But, all things considered, we’re just thankful to have our health, and are making the most of our time by consistently releasing music every week in the meantime.
South Side Symphony – what should we know? What do you guys do best? What sets you apart from the competition?
South Side Symphony, AKA L.A. Trillharmonic, is the only orchestra I know that might perform Back That Thang Up on the same concert as a lush violin concerto. We’re passionate about Black Music. We’re passionate about collaborating with young creatives in Dance and Film. We’re passionate about keeping our events authentic and inviting the audience to feel like they’re part of the family. The motto is “Our Music in Our Time,” because we know nobody can tell our stories like we can. Also, I want my flowers while I can still smell them, instead of people waiting until after I’m dead to start playing my music.
So, what’s next? Any big plans?
Currently, we’re releasing new South Side Symphony music every Friday on Spotify, Apple Music, and all other major retailers. For the musicians and aspiring musicians, we also put up all the sheet music to our music on our website. It’s a lot of fun stuff in styles that they don’t normally get to play. Although we can’t plan for performances yet, I’m excited to get back to playing whenever it is safe to do so for our musicians and audiences. We miss each other! The best way to get first notice of our future projects and concerts is to subscribe to our email list on our website, www.SouthSideSymphony.org.