Christopher Marks is consistently praised by reviewers for “style and assurance” and “musicality [that] seems to flow effortlessly”. With his series of recordings of music by Seth Bingham and his many performances on historic American instruments, he has gained a reputation as an expert in American organ music old and new.
Marks is a Professor in the Glenn Korff School of Music at University of Nebraska-Lincoln, where he also serves as Associate Dean of the Hixson-Lied College of Fine and Performing Arts. He has taught organ, music theory, and performance practice, and previously taught organ and served as University Organist at Syracuse University. An active proponent of new music, Marks has premiered a number of commissioned organ works. His diverse stylistic interests also steer him towards a variety of other repertoire, with a recent interest in American organ music of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Equally comfortable with solo and collaborative playing, he has performed with ensembles such as the Boston Brass, Ethos Percussion Group, and Lincoln’s Symphony Orchestra. He holds degrees from University of Richmond (B.M., piano), University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (M.M., piano and M.M., organ), and the Eastman School of Music (D.M.A., organ), where he studied with Michael Farris. His performances have garnered him top prizes in competitions, including the Arthur Poister Competition, the San Marino Competition, the Fort Wayne Competition, and the Mader Competition.
Marks' recording entitled Discoveries was made on the historic Walter Holtkamp organ at Syracuse University and represents his varied musical interests, featuring music spanning four centuries that is rarely performed and recorded. His latest recording project involves the organ music of Seth Bingham (1882-1972), who was a prominent New York composer, teacher, and church musician. Three critically acclaimed volumes of this series are complete and are available from the Raven label at www.RavenCD.com
Marks is active as a performer, teacher, and writer, having published articles on performance practice, organs, and professional concerns. He has performed at conventions of the American Guild of Organists and the Organ Historical Society and has participated in more than a dozen Pipe Organ Encounters. He served on the Board of Directors of the Organ Historical Society from 2009 until 2017 and served as Chair 2015-2017.
“Marks provides definitive, supremely musical performances, offering an ideal blend of virtuosity, sensitive phrasing, rhythmic flexibility and control, and masterful manipulation of the immense array of tonal resources (including percussions) on the magnificent Schoenstein [organ].” – The American Organist, reviewing Organ Music of Seth Bingham, Vol. 2
“Marks…has done us all a great service by reviving the consistently attractive and imaginative organ music of Seth Bingham. … Marks is an ideal interpreter for the music.” –The Diapason, reviewing Organ Music of Seth Bingham, Vol. 1
“Marks played a remarkable program.” – Sandusky Register
“Victorious” – Lincoln Journal Star
“Marks is a fine player and the Schoenstein organ responds to his every touch. Great stuff.” – The Organ, reviewing Organ Music of Seth Bingham, Vol. 1
“Marks plays all these pieces with assurance.” – American Record Guide, reviewing Organ Music of Seth Bingham, Vol. 1
“Marks played wonderfully … humorously” – The American Organist
“Marks … played … with great élan. … Marks is a rapidly rising young star … who performed with great style and assurance.” – The Diapason
“A sparkling performance” – The American Organist
“[Marks’] recital … may have been the most successful of the [2007 Region II AGO] convention” – The American Organist
“Throughout this disc of really interesting and frequently quite difficult music, Marks changes tonal color with panache and alacrity. His musicality seems to flow effortlessly.” The Journal of the Association of Anglican Musicians, reviewing Organ Music of Seth Bingham, Vol. 2
What do you enjoy the most about being on the faculty at the Glenn Korff School of Music?
Marks: The collegiality and collaborative spirit among the faculty. We have a terrific group of musicians and scholars who are always happy to work together on a project. I’ve been extremely fortunate over the years to perform with my colleagues on many occasions and many types of music.
What do you want others to know about the Glenn Korff School of Music?
Marks: We also have amazing students! It has been a joy to teach the students, to hear their performances, to mentor them and watch them grow. I know that the faculty are dedicated to the success of our students and go to great lengths to support their growth and development. There are few other music schools where you can get the caliber of teaching and musicianship along with the selfless investment by the faculty in the development of students.
What do you like to do outside of the Glenn Korff School of Music?
Marks: Lately, I spend most of my time outside the Glenn Korff School of Music, through my roles as Associate Dean of the Hixson-Lied College of Fine and Performing Arts and Interim Director of the Johnny Carson School of Theatre & Film. I love being able to take part in such a wide variety of performing arts at UNL. In my spare time, I love to cook, read, listen to all kinds of music, and watch films.