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American conductor Marlon Daniel is one of the foremost exponents of music by composers of African and African American descent in the world. He has been described as “…one of the youngest and most prominent pianist/conductors in New York today.” (Le Figaro - France Amerique), “…a natural and enormous talent.” (Chicago Sun-Times) and “fabulous and exceptional” (Pravda - Moscow). He is the winner of the 2009 John and Mary Virginia Foncannon Conducting Award.
Daniel started his musical career as a child prodigy pianist in Chicago, Illinois. Later he worked as a freelance concert artist while studying conducting and piano at Manhattan School of Music. In 1993 he was selected as one of thirteen pianists from around the world to participate in the Gilmore International Keyboard Festival Young Artist Program. He continued to be active as a soloist with orchestra, recitalist and chamber musician in collaboration with noted vocal and instrumental soloists in the United States and Europe.
In 2000, Daniel founded Manhattan Virtuosi and became its Music Director for the next four years. Increasingly focusing on his conducting career, from 2003 until 2007 he resided predominantly in Europe. During this time he served as Associate Conductor of the Praga Sinfonietta. After the dissolution of Manhattan Virtuosi, Daniel founded and was Music Director of the New York-based chamber orchestra Ensemble du Monde in 2004, which brought together virtuoso musicians from around the world, including many former members of Manhattan Virtuosi.
Daniel has subsequently appeared in concert halls throughout the world including Carnegie Hall (New York, NY), Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts (New York, NY), The Rudolfinum (Prague, Czech Republic), Bulgaria Hall (Sofia, Bulgaria), Insular Hall (Alabang, Philippines), Severance Hall (Cleveland, OH), L'Archipel (Basse-Terre, Guadeloupe) and alongside several internationally renowned artists that have included Deborah Voigt, Julian Milkis, Koh Gabriel Kameda and Magali Léger.
He has also appeared as conductor and Music Director for several international commercial media ventures that have included the world premiere of the Maybach Maybach car at the New York Wall Street Regent Hotel and the world premiere of the Nickelodeon Television’s EMMY winning Wonder Pets Save the Goldfish episode live at New York‘s Javits Center.
In addition to Ensemble du Monde, Daniel is the Principal Conductor of the New Horizons Orchestra of the Festival of African and African American Music (FESAAM), Artistic Director of the Festival International Saint-Georges in Guadeloupe and Principal Guest Conductor (2012–14) of the Sofia Sinfonietta. He has guest-conducted orchestras in the United States, the Caribbean, Czech Republic, Philippines, Germany, France and Russia.
A champion of music by living composers, he has performed new works of Giya Kancheli, Matthew Kajcienski, Libby Larsen, Dominique Le Gendre, Fred Onovwerosuoke, Hampson Sisler, Patrick Soluri, Eino Tamberg and Lev Zhurbin. He is credited with conducting the world premieres of Dominique Le Gendre’s Le Génie Humain for Orchestra, Fred Onovwerosuoke’s Meditation for Darfur for Mezzo-soprano, Harp and Orchestra and Hampson Sisler’s Phoenix Forever Suite for Orchestra, the American premiere of Giya Kancheli’s Night Prayers for Clarinet, Strings and Tape and the Russian premiere of William Grant Still’s Afro-American Symphony with the Tatarstan State Symphony Orchestra.
He is a member of Mu Phi Epsilon International Professional Music Fraternity and co-chairman of the fraternity's International Committee.
Born in Chicago, Illinois, his family is originally from New Orleans, Louisiana and Atlanta, Georgia and he is of African American, French and American Indian descent (through maternal grandmother Ruth Chitwood). He received his formative education at St. Ita Grammar School and Lane Technical High School in Chicago, Illinois. He also studied dance as scholarship student at Boitsov Classical Ballet School and was a member of Najwa Dance Corps. For a brief period he pursued acting as a child and appeared on Sesame Street. He holds two silver medals in competitive Jujitsu.
Daniel’s talent was first discovered at the age of seven by his father, Michael Daniel, an amateur musician, when he was able without lessons to play his father's pieces on the piano by ear. He received his first piano lessons with Kathryn Gladden, a pupil of Moritz Rosenthal. He continued his elementary music education with Salavatore Spina at the Music Center of the North Shore and the American Conservatory of Music in the Young Artists Program.
With the support of Mayor Harold Washington and Vernon Jarett, Daniel continued his formal musical education in both the United States and Europe, earning piano degrees from Manhattan School of Music studying with Arkady Aronov and Lev Natochenny, Le Conservatoire Américain “Fontainebleau” (France) with Gaby Casadesus, Centro de Estudios Musicales Isaac Albéniz (Spain) with Dmitri Bashkirov and New York University where he was the last student of renowned Russian piano pedagogue Alexander Edelmann, father and teacher of pianist Sergei Edelmann. Conducting studies were made at both the Prague Academy and Prague Conservatory with Tomáš Koutník and Miriam Němcová.
After winning the James and Lola Faust Fellowship in 2007, Daniel spent time with Sir Simon Rattle and the Berlin Philharmonic. He has also worked closely with Jiří Bělohlávek, Vladimir Feltsman, David Gilbert, Richard Goode, Nicholai Lomov, Miyoko Nakaya Lotto, Larry Rachleff and Oxana Yablonskaya.
- International Saint-Georges Award 2011
- Global Association of Women for the Arts ‘Dove Award’ for Outstanding Artistic Contributions to Cultural and Humanitarian Causes 2010
- John and Mary Virginia Foncannon Conducting Award 2009
- United Nations ‘Voice of the Artist’ Award 2008
- James and Lola Faust Fellowship 2007
- National Symphony/Leonard Slatkin Conducting Institute Search - Finalist 2006
- Yvar Mikhashoff Trust for New Music - Award recipient 2003
- Hazel Scott Memorial Prize for Outstanding Musical Achievement 2003
- Mabel Henderson Memorial Grant for Foreign Experience 2001
- Capitol Region Foundation Grant for Arts in Education 2001
- Rose Hanus Fellowship - Recipient 1998
- North Shore Music Competition - Winner 1987
- NAACP National ACT-SO Competition - Winner 1986
- Key to the City of Chicago - Recipient 1986
- Ravel: Piano Concertos and Orchestra Works
- Phoenix Forever (Music of Hampson Sisler) MSR Classics 1389
- The Second Coming (Music of Hampson Sisler) MSR Classics forthcoming 2013